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2016

On occasion, I feel it’s necessary to stoke the ‘ol entrepreneurial fires. How best to do that? For me, sometimes there is nothing better than a good quote – knowing that others have faced the same dilemma, and seeing their insights, can be just the boost one needs.

 

Here are a few great quotes that should inspire any entrepreneur:

 

On success

“Try not to become a person of success, but rather try to become a person of value.”

– Albert Einstein

 

Of course we all want success, and in business, success is often judged by your business’ bottom line. While financial success is certainly one of our big goals as small business owners, we all know that that is just one factor that goes into the success equation. Offering customers quality and satisfaction, creating jobs, having integrity, designing a great place to work are factors that hold a great deal of value.

 

On failure

“Success is waking up from failure to failure with no less of enthusiasm.”

                – Winston Churchill

 

“Many of life’s failures are people who did not know how close to success they were when they gave up.”

                – Thomas Edison

 

Quotes about failure may seem cliché at this point, but they have become cliché for a reason; the fear and feeling of failure is one of the biggest and most universal deterrents that can prevent us from succeeding. We all know things won’t always go according to plan, and there’s

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no doubt you will become frustrated and discouraged along the way. However, persistency, optimism and enthusiasm in the wake of challenges allows us entrepreneurs to turn failure into something positive.

 

Just stick it out a little bit longer – you might be closer than you think!

 

Click here to read more articles from small business expert Steve Strauss

 

On perseverance

“I’m convinced that about half of what separates successful entrepreneurs from the non-successful ones is pure perseverance.”

                – Steve Jobs

 

“80% of success is just showing up.”

                - Woody Allen

 

Being in business for yourself requires all sorts of things, two of which apply here. The first is vision. To start a business, you likely saw something others did not – a business where once there was nothing. And to create that business required the second trait, which is perseverance. Don’t lose sight of the fact that you have already shown both of those traits in spades – otherwise you would not be here now.

 

On being bold and taking risks

“In a world that’s changing really quickly, the only strategy that is guaranteed to fail is not taking risks.”

                – Mark Zuckerberg

 

My dad always used to say that an entrepreneur was a person who takes a risk with money to make money. Risk is part of this gig.

I have saved my favorite quote for last. This comes from W.H. Murray in his 1951 book, The Scottish Himalayan Expedition:

 

Until one is committed, there is a hesitancy, the chance to draw back; always ineffectiveness. Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation) there is one elementary truth, the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: That the moment one definitely commits oneself, then providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would not otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one’s favor all manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance, which no man would have dreamed would come his way.

I have learned a deep respect for one of Goethe’s couplets:

 

‘Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it! Boldness has genius, magic, and power in it.’”

Be bold my friends. For boldness has genius and magic and power in it.

 

About Steve Strauss

Steven D. Strauss is one of the world's leading experts on small business and is a lawyer, writer, and speaker. The senior small business columnist for USA Today, his Ask an Expert column is one of the most highly-syndicated business columns in the country. He is the best-selling author of 17 books, including his latest, The Small Business Bible, now out in a completely updated third edition. You can listen to his weekly podcast, Small Business Success, visit his new website TheSelfEmployed, and follow him on Twitter. © Steven D. Strauss.

You can read more articles from Steve Strauss by clicking here

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Steve Strauss to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Steve Strauss is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Steve Strauss. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America, its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.

Bank of America, N.A. Member FDIC.  ©2016 Bank of America Corporation

One of my favorite things to watch on TV, after sports, are food-related competition shows like those on the Food Network. Even though I don’t cook (unless you count the microwave), I love to watch the endless parade of amazing chefs and scrumptious food.

 

Surprisingly, I have found a lot of business takeaways from this engaging programming.  Here are a few important business lessons you can learn and apply in your own small business.

 

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Do One Thing Well: In virtually every Food Network competition, one competitor tries to show-off by preparing a food item “multiple ways.” Whether the main ingredient is steak, fish, chicken, shrimp or even apples, when I hear the contestant say they are going to serve it two or three ways, I cringe.  By spreading your focus amongst multiple dishes, none gets your full attention.  And in every single case, while one of the preparations turns out well, the others are a miss.  Had the contestant just focused efforts on one preparation, they would have helped, not hindered, their chances to win.

 

You can take that lesson and apply it directly to your business. Trying to do too many things means you are doing none well and quality will suffer.  So resist the temptation to add new products and services or to have each employee wear too many hats.  Instead, focus on one blow-away effort.  This proves a winning formula – on TV and in the business world – every time.

 

You Can Lose a Battle and Win a War: It’s an emotional challenge to be an entrepreneur.  You have days when you lose clients or potential clients, find out a potential investor is backing out, have an employee quit or some other struggle that makes your business endeavors seem futile.  But perseverance is critical to entrepreneurship and you see that clearly when watching food competitions.

 

In many shows, a contestant will fall down on a particular challenge yet still end up the overall winner. Stumbling in an early challenge of “Next Food Network Star” may not earn you the advantage you seek in the next round, but doing well enough puts you back in contention to be named the overall winner.

 

Click here to read more articles like this one.

 

Also, chefs that have appeared on these competition shows but didn’t win often come back as revered judges on future programs. The element of having been there and done that gives the chef credibility and notoriety they can leverage, even if they weren’t the winner.

 

Losing a battle doesn’t mean that you can’t win the war.  You need to get back up and try again because staying in the game is one of the main ingredients for success (pun entirely intended).

 

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Being Prepared Allows for Improvisation: A large percentage of the Food Network Shows, from Chopped to Cutthroat Kitchen, involved twists thrown into the mix to make the challenge more difficult for the participants and simultaneously, more exciting for the viewer watch. Those who are able to maintain grace under pressure and innovate in the face of adversity are the competitors that come away as winners.

 

The same thing applies for entrepreneurs. If you fail to prepare, you prepare to fail.

 

However, no matter how well prepared you are, there will be surprises along the way.  New products will take longer to develop than you expect. You will miss budgets or have a cash-flow issue. Your marketing promotion won’t produce the intended results or perhaps it will work too well and you struggle meeting demand. Regardless, you need to be calm in the face of chaos and learn to improvise.

 

If you prepare for what you can control, it’s easier to improvise when things inevitably go awry. And when they go haywire, don’t focus on the problems, focus on the potential solutions: fall back on your strengths and don’t fall to pieces.

 

As the food competition programs show, the ones who can’t stand the heat fail in the kitchen.

 

About Carol Roth: Carol Roth is the creator of the Future File™ legacy planning system, “recovering” investment banker, billion-dollar dealmaker, investor, entrepreneur, national media personality and author of the New York Times bestselling book, The Entrepreneur Equation. She is a judge on the Mark Burnett-produced technology competition show, America’s Greatest Makers and TV host and contributor, including host of Microsoft’s Office Small Business Academy. She is also an advisor to companies ranging from startups to major multi-national corporations and has an action figure made in her own likeness.

 

Web: www.CarolRoth.com or Twitter: @CarolJSRoth.

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Carol Roth to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Carol Roth is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Carol Roth. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America, its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.

 

Bank of America, N.A. Member FDIC. ©2016 Bank of America Corporation

The best way to get ahead in 2017 is to review what worked in 2016. But how should you go about it? Taking you step-by-step through the process, our new infographic will help you discover past trends and reveal challenges that you can prepare for now, as well as help you move forward with momentum into the new year.

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Click here to download a PDF of this infographic.

I think it should go without saying that good writing is an essential skill for any successful small business owner. Unfortunately, that does not always go without saying. When is the last time you read something poorly written from a fellow small business owner? I bet not long ago, and I bet it was memorable for all of the wrong reasons.

 

No, this does not mean you need to go out and try to be the next Faulkner, but what it does mean is that you should step away from the email you are writing, and don’t press send just yet.

 

There’s an old commercial you may remember – “People judge you by the words you use.” This is true, especially in business. As small business owners, we all know what a huge difference a great first impression can make (or a bad one, for that matter). Especially today, many first impressions happen through the written word: emails, online articles, blogs, social media, brochures, and so on.

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So you have to write it correctly.

 

Click here to read more articles from small business expert Steve Strauss

 

We are living in a very relaxed business age (I don’t miss my tie, do you?), but that does not mean that your business writing should be super relaxed. People judge you by the words you use. Here is what I suggest:

 

Aim for clarity: Above all, you need to get your point across – clearly, succinctly, and professionally. That said, there is a lot that can get lost in translation when you are using the written word; after all, you don’t have the advantage of hand gestures, intonation, and inquiry that you get during an actual face-to-face conversation. As such, you have to be extra careful that your writing is communicating your exact thought or idea.

 

Here are some of the top writing faux paus that can make ideas nebulous:

 

  • Run-on sentences. Be mindful of where one thought starts and another ends. It’s far too easy to get caught up in the passion we have for our idea and thereby put it all on paper at once. Make sure your thoughts are organized and separate.
  • Sentence fragments. Every sentence requires a subject and a verb at the very least.
  • Length. Nowadays it’s very easy to lose reader interest. Usually it is better to be short, sweet, and to the point. See? 

 

Aim for professionalism: Improper grammar and spelling mistakes make you appear unintelligent and unprofessional. Period. I think it’s already pretty obvious that you should never spell “you” as “u” or “are” as “r,” but there are definitely some trickier rules that I think would behoove us all to brush up on and watch out for:

  • “its” vs. “it’s”
  • “their” vs. “there” vs. “they’re”
  • “your” vs. “you’re”
  • Confusing the possessive with plural. For example, more than one puppy is NOT spelled puppy’s. The apostrophe makes it possessive – “That is the puppy’s collar”.

 

There are a lot of grammar rules that would take a long time to master, and I don’t think we should worry too much about trying to do so. The important thing is to be mindful of your grammar. The point is to express your ideas clearly and have the person reading them take them seriously. You achieve that with good grammar. Accordingly, my essential rule of writing is this:

 

Writing is re-writing: Is there anything worse than sending off that email with a typo in it? Well, yes there is, but you get my point. The good news about your writing is that you can take the time to have it say exactly what you mean. But that only happens if, well, you take your time.

 

Writing is re-writing.

 

What if re-writing isn’t your thing?

 

Hire a freelancer: If we are talking about bigger projects and writing just isn’t for you, I suggest hiring a freelance writer as needed. There are plenty of fresh college graduate English majors who are knock-your-socks-off good at writing and are chomping at the bit to beef up their resume with professional writing gigs. Not to mention, they are usually very affordable. This can be a solid investment for your company’s success and welfare.

 

P.S. Finally, please note that if we are talking about Twitter, nix everything I just said.

 

About Steve Strauss

Steven D. Strauss is one of the world's leading experts on small business and is a lawyer, writer, and speaker. The senior small business columnist for USA Today, his Ask an Expert column is one of the most highly-syndicated business columns in the country. He is the best-selling author of 17 books, including his latest, The Small Business Bible, now out in a completely updated third edition. You can listen to his weekly podcast, Small Business Success, visit his new website TheSelfEmployed, and follow him on Twitter. © Steven D. Strauss.

You can read more articles from Steve Strauss by clicking here

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Steve Strauss to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Steve Strauss is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Steve Strauss. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America, its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.

Bank of America, N.A. Member FDIC.  ©2016 Bank of America Corporation

Not surprisingly, running your own business is fun and exciting. It can also be challenging, petrifying and exhausting. Things can go wrong and will go wrong. So what should you do during these trying times?

 

It is said that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. In the small business world, that saying is especially true. While mistakes happen, you have a far better chance of surviving them if you can try to anticipate challenges and avoid them. From my perspective, here are the top four mistakes small business owners make (and how to avoid them):

 

1. Not sharpening your saw/doing your homework: In the book, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, there is a particularly impactful fable titled, “Sharpening the Saw” which states:

 

“Suppose you were to come upon someone in the woods working feverishly to saw down a tree.

 

‘What are you doing?’ you ask.

‘Can't you see?’ comes the impatient reply. ‘I’m sawing down this tree.’

‘You look exhausted!’ you exclaim. How long have you been at it?’

‘Over five hours,’ he returns, ‘and I'm beat! This is hard work.’

‘Well, why don't you take a break for a few minutes and sharpen that saw?’ you inquire. ‘I'm sure it would go a lot faster.’

‘I don't have time to sharpen the saw,’ the man says emphatically. 'I'm too busy sawing!’”

 

Entrepreneurs have a lot of traits in common, not all of them good. One of the lesser ones is having a bit too much self-confidence and doing things your own way. A better way is to take a step back and sharpen your saw. Learn something new. Do your homework.

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Click here to read more articles from small business expert Steve Strauss

 

Having the wisdom to lean a little less on that sense of self-trust and a little more on being precise, thoughtful, and humble will take you far. You need more than a great idea to be successful, and you definitely need more than a good idea to take you all the way. If you are exacting, intentional, well-informed, do your homework, and are willing to learn and change, then you should have no problem avoiding this common small business error.

 

2.  Running out of gas/not taking time off: As I’m sure you know, when running your own small business, the stakes are higher, the hours are longer, and the stress much more palpable than when you were an employee.

 

Give yourself a break.

 

I think one of the most important elements that people overlook when fostering a successful small business is that it will be emotionally taxing, mentally exhausting, and physically draining. How do you avoid that? By taking time off, turning off the phone, not responding to emails every night, and remembering to be a good boss – to yourself.

 

3. Not marketing/advertising enough: This is a drum I beat a lot because it’s true. The only way to get new people to learn about your business is by marketing and advertising. The only way to replenish the customers who leave (for whatever reason – they move, find someone cheaper) is through your marketing efforts.

 

4. Not swallowing your pride/asking for the help you need: It’s natural for you to feel protective and possessive of your small business. However, that said, you need to avoid the entrepreneurial tendency to control everything and not let your pride and sense of ownership get in the way of getting the help you need.

 

The fact is, you will not be able to maintain a successful small business for long all by yourself. You need to engage with a team. Listen to your employees, freelancers, customers, investors, partners, and family members.

 

No, things will not always go quite according to plan, but that’s OK. The trick is to avoid the easy mistakes.

 

About Steve Strauss

Steven D. Strauss is one of the world's leading experts on small business and is a lawyer, writer, and speaker. The senior small business columnist for USA Today, his Ask an Expert column is one of the most highly-syndicated business columns in the country. He is the best-selling author of 17 books, including his latest, The Small Business Bible, now out in a completely updated third edition. You can listen to his weekly podcast, Small Business Success, visit his new website TheSelfEmployed, and follow him on Twitter. © Steven D. Strauss.

You can read more articles from Steve Strauss by clicking here

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Steve Strauss to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Steve Strauss is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Steve Strauss. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America, its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.

Bank of America, N.A. Member FDIC.  ©2016 Bank of America Corporation

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