Entrepreneurship is an Attitude

By Matthew Kwan

Principal Consultant of Adams (www.adamshk.com)

Copyright © 2010.

awardYou do not need to start up your own company to gain entrepreneurship, and in fact, you need to be an entrepreneur to be successful in business.  Entrepreneurship is an attitude, a mindset, a way of thinking and something you need to internalize.  So, are you an entrepreneur?  Here are some questions you may ask yourself?

 

1.          Do you enjoy in solving problems and seeing the (desirable/undesirable) results at the end?

2.          Do you enjoy hearing new ideas?

3.          Do you enjoy building new business processes?

4.          Do you enjoy learning how other organizations work?

5.          Do you enjoy thinking win-win proposals?

6.          Do you enjoy working with other (internal & external) parties (departments/companies)?

7.          Do you think negotiation is a way to achieve win-win?

8.          Do you think calculated risk is bearable?

9.          Do you think performance improvement is mandatory?

10.      Do you think alternative route is an answer to a dead end?

 

If you get mostly “YES” to the above questions, then the chance is that you are already possessing qualities of entrepreneurship.  There are a number of qualities you would look for if you are determined to pursuit entrepreneurship:

 

1.      Problem Solving Capability – It is a process which you need to go through before you can see desirable results.  You need to be discipline enough to follow the right procedure of thinking if you want to solve problems.  The way to solve big problem is to break your problem into little problems.  Your job is just to solve the little problems one by one and you will solve the big problem at the end!  Problems may evolve but you can always apply the same treatment.

 

2.      Explorative– We are too easy to get used to the best practices and formal procedures.  New ideas always sound strange at first but if we are open minded enough to compare thoughts, there are always insights from new ideas that we can adopt to make better ideas!

 

3.      Organization– Operational excellence is built on effective business processes.  However, clear definition of business processes takes thoughtful planning and flawless execution.  The only success factor to this is continuous review and refinement.

 

4.      Continuous Learning – You can always learn from the successful and disastrous organizations stories to shorten your path of success and help yourself in falling into the same traps.  It is both motivational and gauging to your own business endeavor.

 

5.      Think Win-Win – Business world is a network of ecosystem, there is no absolute winner in this world.  The way to be successful in your ecosystem is to collaborate.  One very wonderful word is Co-opetition! (Cooperation + Competition)

 

6.      Teamwork– Working in team(s) is an art!  Not only you need to be fully aware the politics behind of each internal or external team members, you also need to appreciate the strength and weakness of each player before you can built a successful team.  Teamwork is always built on trust but trust will never build in short time!

 

7.      Objective Driven – How well and clear do you know your objectives?  Without knowing your priorities, you will never know how to trade off.  Return-On-Investment is just a matter of trade off!

 

8.      Risk Taking – In order to advance, you need to take risk.  Taking calculated risks is a very mature business act.  Without taking risks, organizations will never advance to new heights.

 

9.      Pursue of Excellence – Complacency is a poison to any growing organization.  Measuring performance and finding ways to improve should always be a responsibility of a professional.

 

10.  Never Give Up! – You will hit dead ends for sure on your road of success.  Though it may look like running in a maze, by systematical back tracking and learning by mistakes, dawn will always come!

 

 

 

 

About the Author

Matthew Kwan is Principal Consultant of Adams Company Limited (www.adamshk.com) responsible for business consulting and enterprise training.  He is an entrepreneur, author, speaker, lecturer, consultant working with enterprises and organizations in both commercial and Christian communities.  He served many years in multi-national companies including Intel, JP Morgan, Jardines with broad experience of Sales & Marketing and Management in multicultural and international settings.

7 Most Important Steps for Entrepreneurship

By Matthew Kwan
Principal Consultant, Adams Company Limited http://www.adamshk.com/
© Copyright. April 10, 2009

Starting up a business is not difficult and failing it is more than easy. What are the most important steps entrepreneurs should take in order to stay above the water is the most critical question one should ask well before actually forming a company. I have summarized the our own experience as well as gathering some good practices that are available to ensure the chance of success for entrepreneurs as described below:

  1. Business Ideas
  2. Sales & Marketing Planning
  3. Cash Flow Calculation
  4. Business Registration & etc…
  5. Website Building
  6. Promotion & Advertising
  7. Execution & Continuously Review

1. Business Ideas

Whenever you think of any business idea, you need to start from the TAM (Total Available Market). Without knowing how big the demand of your products or service is, it is impossible to estimate how well you will achieve your sales goals in time. Even knowing your TAM, you should ask also how well is your potential competitors are doing in such market as they are a very good reference for you to evaluation the potential growth of this business in future.

2. Sales & Marketing Planning

I have written before about the 5C’s Business Planning idea and I would like to recap the idea here as it is too important to do this analysis to ensure you are not too far off from reality. Moreover, I think it is a very simple and effective way to plan & measure your sales & marketing effort. I have used in many customer cases and they work extremely well for them to position and re-position the overall business plan and idea. So, what are the 5C’s, they are Customers, Competitors, Complementors, Channels and Costs. Our of the 5C’s, I personally think Complementors is the most important of all. For details, please refer to The 5C’s of Business Planning in Adams’ Business Advisory Blog.

3. Cash Flow Calculation

Cash Flow is Everything! (as written in Adams’ Business Advisory Blog) If you cannot manage well you cash flow, you are dim to fail in time. A lot of companies fail not because of not having enough sales but not enough of cash flow. The most important question to ask is when can you breakeven your running expenses each month. If you cannot maintain a stable cash flow, your feeling will just like riding a roller coaster! The other important question to ask is how much initial capital you need to have to sustain throughout the period before breakeven. Obviously, the earlier you can breakeven, the less capital you need. Oppositely, if it takes too long for you to breakeven, you will very soon loose your momentum and your energy level and sometimes faith in yourself or your partners!

4. Business Registration & etc…

The process of registering a company in different countries are different but typically it is a lot easier to work with company secretary companies or certified public accountants and sometimes business centre companies to get these processes done with reasonable costs as there are too many nitty-gritty’s that you need to pay attention at for just once when you form a company. Personally, I think it is not justified at all to spend time to learn it through but not helpful for your business

5. Website Building

It is an internet age, if you are not building a website, you will never survive a chance to win in this extremely competitive world. In terms of building a business effective website, I recommended that there is a 4C strategy. (Please refer to Websites are so important to make e-Marketing campaigns successful!) The 4C’s are Customer Oriented, Contextual Contents, Call to Actions and Community. Since Converting Clicks to Sales Leads is the most important consideration, you really need to try every effort to make sure whoever visiting your site would take action to call you, email you, fill in a form or forward your information to friends. These would ensure you have a very good chance to succeed.

6. Promotion and Advertising

In order to be cost-effective, you don’t have choice but use e-Marketing as it is proven to be one of the highest ROI (Return On Investment) ways in promoting your company products and services. There are many ways to promote your products and services using e-Marketing and largely they may involve sending emails, doing search engine optimization or marketing, advertising online with banner ads or registering to directories…etc. However, if you don’t have any idea to start, you can use my proposed 6 Simple Steps to Start e-Marketing with a Success. More importantly you need to Maximize your dollars on e-Marketing in order to gain the best possible ROI.

7. Execution & Continuously Review

Doing plans and generate business ideas is very easy as it is comparatively less effort than execution. When you actually execute your plans you will soon find them difficult to realize as some of the ideas or methods would never work in the real world. With limited time, money and resources, you often end up dumping the whole idea all together. Therefore it is extremely important to do reality checks and review what is really happening with all your effort in executing your plans in a quantitative measure. I found many clients have a very ambitious start with lot of energy and so passionate about their dream in success of your business, however they fail to review the progress constantly and sidetracked by many things and challenge. So they were not able to re-focus and re-prioritize their effort early enough to regain the momentum to move forward.

Finally, I wish all the best to all entrepreneurs who have wonderful dream of success may achieve great result with their business plan and share with us the joy of Entrepreneurship!

Magical Top Three Things – Priority Setting for SME

By Matthew Kwan
Principal Consultant, Adams Company Limited
© Copyright. May 14, 2007

Managing time and priority in SMEs is extremely challenging as it is largely due to the fact that resources are limited and things have to do are so many. SMEs have no exemption from doing Sales & Marketing, keeping Accounts, managing Personnel and Office Administrations and yet at the same time keeping all Operations running smoothly.

One very simple way of priority setting I learnt during my Intel days is to always ask ourselves which are the most important Top Three Things (I call it as 3T from here on) at any given moment. Why it is so magical about 3T is once you ask this question, then you don’t have many choices in setting your priorities. Naming your top 3T does not mean you need to ignore all other important things you have to do, but rather keeping yourself stayed above the water with all the things needed to be accomplished in a timely fashion.

I understand that every opportunity is important to SMEs but if we cannot even handle 3 things at a time, we just have to simply “say no” or push out things to allow enough time and resources to deal with 3 things first.

Before I go in details, there are some rules that we may follow when we are using this 3T approach:

We only select the most important 3 things at a given moment; hence the list will change subject to the change of moment.
The given moment can be within next hour, next day, next week, next month, next year and so forth…
Before we can decide which are the most important 3 things, we should have a clear idea in mind what are things are required to complete by when across the board including Sales & Marketing, Accounting, Personnel & Admin and Operations…etc
Deadline is a good indicator for setting priorities of things but I would rather use “Impact of failure” to decide the priorities. The bigger the impact, the higher the priority it should be!

With the above rules in mind, now I want to list a few sample questions that we may ask ourselves when choosing our 3T in different aspects of our business affair. I am sure you can add other relevant questions to the list!

Sales
- Which top 3 customers or market segments that will bring majority of our revenue?
- Which are the top 3 deals in this moment can bring higher income to the company?
- Who are our top 3 competitors in the market in the specific product segments?

Marketing
- Which top 3 products/services of our company have higher growth potential?
- Which top 3 media are most cost effective to support our sales?
- Which top 3 marketing channels can help our products/services get more awareness in the market?

Finance & Accounting
- What are the top 3 accounting gaps that our company is facing most challenges?
- What are the top 3 financial issues in our company may hinder our growth most?
- What are the top 3 areas that we can improve our accounting accuracy?

Personnel & Office Administrations
- What are the top 3 requirements we want most in an opening job position?
- What are the top 3 problems that may deteriorate our working environment?
- What are the top 3 areas that can motivate our workforce?

Operations
- Which top 3 top 3 processes may need attention in order to improve efficiency?
- What are the top 3 issues that may hinder our overall productivity?
- What are the top 3 areas may need to increase resources?

Summary
The ability of identifying our 3T is not difficult to learn but whether we can master this art is a matter of discipline. It is so easy to make a plan without any desire of execution. I have experienced this fact myself and witness many other fellow SMEs failing in doing so very often! Therefore, my advice is making your 3T list as open as possible to your stakeholders including employees, business partners and to certain extends your customers. In such case, we may ask our stakeholders help and safe guard our 3T as well as to avoid false expectation or false understanding of our priorities. 3T may not solve all our priority conflicts but it should give us a good guideline when to distinguish our top 3 priorities when we are so buried in our work with confusion!