Posts Tagged "Business"

Look at these key factors when making your decisions.

2 min read

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

In this video, Entrepreneur Network partner Phil Town discusses how to set up a stock wishlist and a watchlist. Town explains that stocks on your wishlist should be companies you have completed research on and are interested in buying. On the otherhand, a watchlist should be a collection of stocks you are interested but still need to look into. 

Instead of being extremely lazy during a certain period, and very aggressive in the next, Town recommends an alternative. When other investors are pulling back, you should choose to be more aggressive. 

A stock wishlist — a list backed up by research — can be extremely helpful when you are in a high pressure scenario and need to make a decision quickly, without letting emotions get in the way. 

To move stocks from your list of tentative companies to a list of companies you are sure you want to invest in, make sure you are focusing on each commpany. By concentrating on individual stocks and narrowing down what you want to research and properly look into, you can find the companies that are right for you. 

Click the video to hear more attributes that determine if a stock is right for your wishlist. 

Related: How to Make Your Wealth Last for Generations

Entrepreneur Network is a premium video network providing entertainment, ewitducation and inspiration from successful entrepreneurs and thought leaders. We provide expertise and opportunities to accelerate brand growth and effectively monetize video and audio content distributed across all digital platforms for the business genre.

EN is partnered with hundreds of top YouTube channels in the business vertical. Watch video from our network partners on demand on RokuApple TV and the Entrepreneur App available on iOS and Android devices.

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Startup cost: $1,000

Equipment: baking materials, kitchen costs, shipping costs, base ingredients, packaging materials

Sick of going to the store for dog biscuits every week? Think cats deserve some unique treats too? Start a pet bakery business! Gourmet pet snacks are not only a unique business idea, but they could also be your foot in the door for other animal-related businesses.

There are many options with animal treats ranging from a focus on healthy, all-natural selection, to unique and crazy flavors. Just make sure to do your due diligence for what dogs can and can’t eat — for example, did you know that dogs can get sick from eating onions, garlic or avocados?

“It took me three years before I opened to come up with recipes that are safe and that dogs would love,” said Penny Milligan, owner of pet bakery The Hungry Hound.

Karry Barolo, owner of D.O.G. Bakery, whose products are carried in nearly 100 stores nationwide, creates healthy, natural dog treats. However, when she started her business, people dismissed it as silly.

“Once I was able to educate them on the importance of great nutrition for dogs, they started to see the value of what we do,” Barolo explained.

Neither Milligan or Barolo had baking experience before starting their businesses, however Milligan had worked in retail for most of her adult life and Barolo worked in restaurant management.

“As a small-business owner you have to be able to do everything. So I would strongly recommend exposing yourself to all aspects of business,” Barolo said.

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Here’s how to position yourself and your business.

8 min read

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

There is only so much attention to go around in any industry, so positioning both your personal brand and company correctly is extremely important if you want a piece of the action. It becomes even more difficult in ultra-competitive industries like real estate and online marketing.

So, how do you break through all of the noise and be seen and heard in a competitive industry? Many experts simply say you should become a thought leader or an influencer, but you can’t just label yourself a thought leader. That isn’t how it works. Your actions make your audience view you as a thought leader or influencer.

When I started my company, I spent a lot of time developing my personal brand in order to stand out. The online marketing industry was (and still is) very competitive, so I needed to do things that put me in front of my audience in a non-promotional way. After my last pivot, I’m no longer after the same audience, but that doesn’t mean I’ve abandoned personal branding as part of my growth strategy.

Actually, it’s a topic I’m constantly discussing among my network. Luis Iglesias is the founder and principal broker of Iglesias Realty Group, a full-service boutique real estate agency in Coral Gables, FL — right down the street from me. He’s been in the game for a long time and has an impressive list of clients in the luxury market. I am constantly digging into his strategies of getting in front of those clients. While we share different audiences, the strategies and game plan remain very similar, which is why constantly networking and talking with other entrepreneurs proves to be so beneficial for your own personal growth.

Miami’s real estate market is very competitive. Back in 2016 alone, 4,200 new agents were licensed within a 6-month period. Just to help pain the picture a little, take this into consideration:

What does this mean?

There are far more active real estate agents than deals closing, with an almost never-ending supply of new inventory coming to market. Those that don’t figure out personal branding will fail and those that master it have unlimited potential directly in front of them. To command attention, regardless of how competitive your industry is, here is a five-step process you need to be following.

1. Focus on delivering real value.

Too many people focus on trying to sell right away. Rather than telling someone you are the best, provide them with value and let them come to that conclusion on their own. Figure out what kind of insight and information you can provide that nobody else is, and leverage that to gain trust and respect.

There is no cookie-cutter system for delivering value, and for your audience to determine whether or not it’s actual value or just adding to the fluff and noise currently available.

Iglesias realized he needed to be available around the clock because his celebrity clients don’t have traditional schedules. Late-night phone calls, after-hours showings, etc. — these are all things his audience considered to be highly valuable.

When I started my company there was a lot of content published to make online marketing appear to be overwhelming — these companies felt that if they used industry jargon and complex explanations, they would attract business. I used the completely opposite approach, creating downloadable content assets that broke everything down in easy to digest information, which my audience found valuable, and that was responsible for a large percentage of my lead generation.

2. Open up and tell your personal story.

The more of your story that you put out there, the more your audience will be able to relate to. A lot of entrepreneurs only put out information they think will make their target audience connect with them, failing to understand that it’s their personal experiences and story that will draw attention.

Everyone has a story, and the way to cut through the crowd in a competitive industry is to tell yours. For me, it was why I decided to start my online marketing agency in the first place. I tried other business ventures in the past and was sick of being burned by email marketing companies, SEO firms and pay-per-click management companies.

I decided to do all of the marketing myself. Over time, I realized that the only part of my businesses that I enjoyed was the marketing — so I launched my own agency. Business owners connected with my story because they, too, were sick of the runaround from service providers. Even the latest pivot my company made has a story, which will be told through a new, interactive element currently being built as part of our new website design launch. 

Iglesias also used his story to stand out in one of the most competitive real estate markets. Beginning his real estate career as a property appraiser and mortgage broker more than 15 years ago, it’s his professional experience in all aspects of the transaction that has allowed him to grow a full-service firm.

While most agents educate and inform about the buying process in a limited capacity, Iglesias is able to explain the entire process — from personal experience — a value-add not all firms or agents can offer.

3. Write often, but don’t start with a business blog.

If you have knowledge, experience and insight to share, then put it out there for your target audience to see. Content marketing works well, but only if you get eyeballs on your writing, and a company blog usually isn’t the best place to start due to limited traffic in the beginning.

You are better off finding established publications to guest blog on or using a platform like LinkedIn or Medium to publish on, as they have a larger user base constantly looking for new content to engage with.

In the beginning, I started writing for many hyper-focused blogs in the search engine optimization, email marketing and pay-per-click advertising space. From there I moved onto more general business publications. 

However, if you prefer to keep all of your content on a website that you fully own and control, there are options. You can run paid ads on Facebook to push traffic to a new blog or you can syndicate your posts through paid channels like Outbrain or Taboola. Even if you have money to spend, I would highly suggest honing your writing skills on existing platforms and outlets first.

4. Create content on a regular basis on the platforms your audience is most active.

The best content marketers have one thing in common: consistency.

Everyone wants to go viral and reap the instant reward, but in reality, it’s a pipe dream. Even if you do go viral once, then what? What is the next play?

It doesn’t matter what form of content you commit to, just do it consistently. Iglesias understands that the luxury real estate audience is very visual, which is why he went all-in on Instagram. Consistently posting beautiful images of Miami luxury real estate keeps his audience engaged and his company and himself on their mind, which proves to be effective when it comes time for them to inquire about a new property.

Also, don’t be afraid to test new formats of content. Just because something works (or doesn’t) for one person or company, doesn’t mean you will experience the same results. Blog content has been my go-to for years, but I’ve recently started to experiment with more video content and now have a vlog series about to roll out, complimenting the new company pivot.

5. Understand it’s not an overnight process.

Positioning yourself as a thought leader takes time and full commitment. There are no shortcuts or overnight successes. If you aren’t prepared to put in the work, you are going to be highly disappointed.

Many people see someone in a position of authority or influence and assume he or she arrived there overnight. They fail to see the years of work, failures and struggles that led to that point. This is another reason why telling your story is so important — it makes you more human and easier to relate to.

For Iglesias, it’s been a 15-year journey in the real estate industry. For me, it’s been multiple business attempts before I found what I loved, followed by several pivots to arrive at where I am today.

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Marketing strategist and speaker Dorie Clark leads an online class on building your personal presence and portfolio.

3 min read

Disclosure: Our goal is to feature products and services that we think you’ll find interesting and useful. If you purchase them, Entrepreneur may get a small share of the revenue from the sale from our commerce partners.

A solid personal brand is capable of moving mountains — or at least the stock market.

You might recall an incident that went down this time last year involving the personal brand of none other than Kylie Jenner. On February 21, 2018, the 21-year-old reality star and makeup mogul took to Twitter in response to Snapchat’s confusing new layout, revealing that she’d begun to abstain from the messaging app.

“Sooo does anyone else not open Snapchat anymore? Or is it just me… ugh this is so sad,” Jenner told her followers.

That single tweet from one of Snapchat’s most prominent users — all 88 characters of it — was enough to cause Snap’s market value to plummet about $1.3 billion.

Jenner’s tweet had that incredible impact because she’s used social media to build a personal brand that’s garnered her millions of followers, who look to her for beauty tips and first-hand peeks at her lavish lifestyle. Her effect on Snap is an extreme example, but it demonstrates the extent of the influence one can wield with a fine-tuned and well-known public image.

The concept of honing a personal brand isn’t reserved for celebrities, though. As consultant and author Peter Gasca once pointed out in an opinion piece for Entrepreneur, marketing oneself as a brand is a wise personal and professional move for, well, basically any businessperson in that it “[establishes] confidence, credibility, and courage.”

“As an entrepreneur, a well-defined personal brand can also assist in establishing your leadership style and establish how you want to be known both in and out of the workplace,” he wrote.

So that’s the “why” of setting up a personal brand; now, for the “how”: You can get a comprehensive introduction to all things personal branding by enrolling in “Personal Branding For Creative Professionals With Dorie Clark,” an affordable online class about positioning yourself and your small business. Taught across 16 hours of content by marketing strategy consultant, author, and former presidential campaign spokeswoman Dorie Clark, the course will teach you the skills you need to cultivate a presence and portfolio both online and offline.

Clark walks her students through the ins and outs of personal branding throughout 20 HD video lessons (plus bonus content), available 24/7 on both web and mobile device. She covers a broad range of topics, from making a stellar first impression to using your connections to nurture your personal image. You might not be the next Kylie Jenner once you’ve completed the class, but you’ll certainly be left with the skills and knowledge necessary to make the most of interviews, introductions, webinars, and other interpersonal situations.

For a limited time, Entrepreneur readers can sign up for lifetime access to “Personal Branding For Creative Professionals With Dorie Clark” for just $14.99 — a 69 percent discount on the original retail price of $49.

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Jessica Abo gets advice on how to charge what your worth.

1 min read

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Have you ever thought about what to charge for your services and felt stuck? Life and business fulfillment coach Marina Kostina helps entrepreneurs break out of their limited beliefs and align their entire business with who they are. In this video, Kostina shares three things with Jessica Abo that can help you feel more comfortable with your fees.

Related: 5 Things Planners Should Keep in Mind to Create Change in 2019

Entrepreneur Network is a premium video network providing entertainment, ewitducation and inspiration from successful entrepreneurs and thought leaders. We provide expertise and opportunities to accelerate brand growth and effectively monetize video and audio content distributed across all digital platforms for the business genre.

EN is partnered with hundreds of top YouTube channels in the business vertical. Watch video from our network partners on demand on RokuApple TV and the Entrepreneur App available on iOS and Android devices.

Click here to become a part of this growing video network.

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Seven tried and true steps for attracting visitors to your small business’ site — and getting them to buy.

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

There is a proven sequence of steps you can follow to guarantee your success when you’re starting a small business online. I’ve seen thousands of people start and grow successful businesses by doing the following:

  1. Find a need and fill it.
  2. Write copy that sells.
  3. Design and build an easy-to-use website.
  4. Use search engines to drive traffic to your site.
  5. Establish an expert reputation for yourself.
  6. Follow up with your customers and subscribers with email.
  7. Increase your income through back-end sales and upselling.

Anyone, from newbie to seasoned online entrepreneur, can benefit from this process in learning how to start a business online.

Related: 10 Online Invoicing Services for Small-Business Owners

Step 1: Find a need and fill it.

Most people who are just starting out make the mistake of looking for a product first, and a market second.

To boost your chances of success, start with a market. The trick is to find a group of people who are searching for a solution to a problem, but not finding many results. The internet makes this kind of market research easy:

  • Visit online forums to see what questions people ask and what problems they’re trying to solve.
  • Do keyword research to find keywords that a lot of people are searching, but for which not many sites are competing.
  • Check out your potential competitors by visiting their sites and taking note of what they’re doing to fill the demand. Then you can use what you’ve learned and create a product for a market that already exists — and do it better than the competition.

Related: 8 Great Time-Tracking Apps for Freelancers

Step 2: Write copy that sells.

There’s a proven sales copy formula that takes visitors through the selling process from the moment they arrive to the moment they make a purchase:

  1. Arouse interest with a compelling headline.
  2. Describe the problem your product solves.
  3. Establish your credibility as a solver of this problem.
  4. Add testimonials from people who have used your product.
  5. Talk about the product and how it benefits the user.
  6. Make an offer.
  7. Make a strong guarantee.
  8. Create urgency.
  9. Ask for the sale.

Throughout your copy, you need to focus on how your product or service is uniquely able solve people’s problems or make their lives better. Think like a customer and ask “What’s in it for me?”

Related Book: Write Your Business Plan by The Staff of Entrepreneur Media, Inc.

Step 3: Design and build your website.

Once you’ve got your market and product, and you’ve nailed down your selling process, now you’re ready for your small-business web design. Remember to keep it simple. You have fewer than five seconds to grab someone’s attention — otherwise they’re gone, never to be seen again. Some important tips to keep in mind:

  • Choose one or two plain fonts on a white background.
  • Make your navigation clear and simple, and the same on every page.
  • Only use graphics, audio or video if they enhance your message.
  • Include an opt-in offer so you can collect e-mail addresses.
  • Make it easy to buy — no more than two clicks between potential customer and checkout.
  • Your website is your online storefront, so make it customer-friendly.

Related: Top 10 Best Chatbot Platform Tools to Build Chatbots for Your Business

Step 4: Use search engines to drive targeted buyers to your site.

Pay-per-click advertising is the easiest way to get traffic to a brand-new site. It has two advantages over waiting for the traffic to come to you organically. First, PPC ads show up on the search pages immediately, and second, PPC ads allow you to test different keywords, as well as headlines, prices and selling approaches. Not only do you get immediate traffic, but you can also use PPC ads to discover your best, highest-converting keywords. Then you can distribute the keywords throughout your site in your copy and code, which will help your rankings in the organic search results.

Related Book: Ultimate Guide to Pay-Per-Click Advertising by Richard Stokes

Step 5: Establish an expert reputation for yourself.

People use the internet to find information. Provide that information for free to other sites, and you’ll see more traffic and better search engine rankings. The secret is to always include a link to your site with each tidbit of information.

  • Give away free, expert content. Create articles, videos or any other content that people will find useful. Distribute that content through online article directories or social media sites.
  • Include “send to a friend” links on valuable content on your website.
  • Become an active expert in industry forums and social networking sites where your target market hangs out.

Related: How to Create a Facebook Messenger Chatbot For Free Without Coding

You’ll reach new readers. But even better, every site that posts your content will link back to yours. Search engines love links from relevant sites and will reward you in the rankings.

Related Book: No B.S. Trust-Based Marketing by Dan S. Kennedy and Matt Zagula

Step 6: Use the power of email marketing to turn visitors into buyers.

When you build an opt-in list, you’re creating one of the most valuable assets of your online business. Your customers and subscribers have given you permission to send them email. That means:

  • You’re giving them something they’ve asked for.
  • You’re developing lifetime relationships with them.
  • The response is 100 percent measurable.
  • Email marketing is cheaper and more effective than print, TV or radio because it’s highly targeted.

Anyone who visits your site and opts in to your list is a very hot lead. And there’s no better tool than email for following up with those leads.

Related Offer: Get a 60-day free trial to email marketing platform Constant Contact.

Step 7: Increase your income through back-end sales and upselling.

One of the most important internet marketing strategies is to develop every customer’s lifetime value. At least 36 percent of people who have purchased from you once will buy from you again if you follow up with them. Closing that first sale is by far the most difficult part — not to mention the most expensive. So use back-end selling and upselling to get them to buy again:

  • Offer products that complement their original purchase.
  • Send out electronic loyalty coupons they can redeem on their next visit.
  • Offer related products on your “Thank You” page after they purchase.

Reward your customers for their loyalty and they’ll become even more loyal.

Related Book: No B.S. Guide to Maximum Referrals and Customer Retention by Dan S. Kennedy and Shaun Buck

The internet changes so fast that one year online equals about five years in the real world. But the principles of how to start and grow a successful online business haven’t changed at all. If you’re just starting a small business online, stick to this sequence. If you’ve been online awhile, do a quick review and see if there’s a step you’re neglecting, or never got around to doing in the first place. You can’t go wrong with the basics.

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This promising Mexican startup closed its doors in the middle of a corruption scandal. How does this affect the Latin American entrepreneurial ecosystem? Experts explain.

10 min read

This story originally appeared on Entrepreneur en Español.

On Thursday, Oct. 4, 2018, a tweet that supposedly came from the employees of Mexican startup Yogome announced that its 150 workers were on the 17th floor of the iconic Torre Latinoamericana building in Mexico City being forced to sign their resignations.

Soon after, Forbes Mexico published an article that claimed that the company closed its doors because one of its founders, Manolo Díaz, was accused of fraud.

The news shook the entire Latin American business ecosystem, because Yogome was, for all intents and purposes, one of the most successful Mexican startups in recent years. Its story was fantastic: Manolo Díaz and his partner Alberto Colín (who seems not to be involved in the fraud accusations) were two entrepreneurs from the central Mexican city of San Luis Potosí who opened a videogame company to educate children around the globe. Less than 10 years later, their content was available in six languages (English, Portuguese, Chinese, Spanish, Japanese and Korean) and reached 30 countries.

This educational technology (EdTech) startup became a kind of standard for many companies that wanted to be successful outside Latin America because between 2013 and 2017 Yogome had managed to raise more than $30 million in funds and seed capital in Mexico, as well as in Silicon Valley.

But according to a source that spoke to Forbes Mexico, Manolo Díaz had faked the numbers of his company to deceive investors and the market in general.

“Investors always have controls such as corporate governance in the companies in which they invest, but in this case there was no way for the capital partners to have realized that something bad was happening because the deception was very sophisticated,” said Luis Antonio Márquez, director of the Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship at EGADE Business School.

According to anonymous sources quoted in the business website Expansión, Manolo Díaz manipulated the information he shared with his investors, partners and workers, changing through a bot the data that the App Store showed about the downloads and revenues of its games. An employee of Yogome revealed his suspicions to an investor during a company party and that triggered the investigation that ended with the closing of the company.

Daniel Santamarina, managing partner of the investment fund Dux Capital of Startup Mexico, said that investors need to do due diligence to analyze factors such as product, market and more important — especially in the early stages of a company — the team that comprises the startup. “This includes audits on fiscal and legal matters, the search for any ‘skeletons in the closet’ of the entrepreneur,” Santamarina said in an interview with Entrepreneur en Español. “The type of fraud that happened in Yogome forces us to take more rigorous preventive measures before making an investment.”

A global issue

Although the case of Yogome has been one of the most discussed among Latin American business sector in recent years, it is not (by far) the only one in which a company manipulates its figures and information. In fact, this type of situation occurs in the most advanced entrepreneurial environments.

This is what happened with Theranos, a company valued at $9 billion that promised to perform more than 50 types of medical diagnoses through a home test that required only a drop of blood from a finger. Founder Elizabeth Holmes allegedly lied about the true capabilities of her laboratory.

“Cases like these go beyond the entrepreneurial ecosystem of a country,” said Juan Alberto González, director of the Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship of the Universidad Panamericana. “It shows a lack of control and corporate governance from the entrepreneur when they forget that the mission, management and value given to investors should come from a legal framework.”

The fall of Theranos came from an anonymous tip. A lab employee contacted The Wall Street Journal investigative journalist John Carreyrou who found that the startup cheated on their proficiency tests and provided false information about their results with patients. After several months of investigations by U.S. authorities, Theranos closed its laboratories in 2016 and the courts determined in March of 2018 that Holmes had to return $750 million to investors and shareholders of the company.

Fake it ’till you make it

How does this happen? Holmes (and apparently also the founder of Yogome) fell prey of a phenomenon that is very common among entrepreneurs: the fake it ’till you make it mindset.

This aphorism suggests that by pretending, a person can make certain qualities manifest in their real life. This idea was brought to the modern age in 1920 by Alfred Adler, a disciple of Sigmund Freud, who used it in cognitive behavioral therapy. Adler developed a therapeutic technique that he called “acting as if.” Today, this technique is often described as “roleplaying.”

In other words, it’s about acting as if you really know what you’re doing, even if that’s not the case. Alejandro Lomas Torres, CEO of the Startcups business incubator, said, “It is a strategy widely used by entrepreneurs — and even by many CEOs around the globe — to present themselves as the best investment option. It’s something that Steve Jobs’s friends called ‘Distortion of Reality.’ It’s believing so much in your own fantasies that you can not distinguish where the truth is anymore.”

Torres also points out that many startups feel an incredible pressure to appear to be a great success story in a very short time. The specialist from the Universidad Panamericana stressed that despite the advances, as a culture, in Latin America it’s hard to understand failure as a step to success and “we like to narrate our triumphs than our moments of trial.” Torres adds, “We want everything to succeed and that’s why in many cases entrepreneurs sell more the positive aspects of their careers without understanding that their business model has not matured enough.”

Half-finished houses

“Have you ever seen a house that still has rods on the roof? As if the owners left them there to continue building on top someday? So are some startups that raise capital and participate in thousands of contests, but never really grow their business.” This curious metaphor was shared with me by Luis Pablo Pérez Torrescano, director of The Venture Mexico for Chivas Regal, to explain why many entrepreneurs have a great reputation when their businesses are not that large.

For Gustavo Huerta, CEO of BlueBox Ventures, the fault doesn’t solely lie with the individual entrepreneurs, but with the entire industry that does not know how to recognize appropriate growth milestones. “Let’s make it clear: raising capital is not synonymous with success,” he warned in an interview with Entrepreneur en Español. “However, it seems that this is the model with which we reward entrepreneurs in Latin America. Raising capital is part of the business process, but not an absolute indicator of performance. It’s just a metric that shows that a startup is doing well and that it needs more money to accelerate its pace.”

So, is raising capital bad? Of course not. This form of financing, as mentioned in an article by The Hustle, offers three important benefits for startups: cash (to facilitate business growth), validation (to attract talent, media attention and customers) and guidance (tips from experts, networking and resources).

The problem, as it was in the case of Yogome, is when the capital raised is not used to strengthen the company and to boost the long-term growth of the business. It is, Perez Torrescano told me, “as if the founder of the startup never graduated; as if he or she never really wanted to become an entrepreneur in the first place.”

Damage assessment

Cases such as those of Yogome shake entrepreneurial ecosystems because they can leave “a stain.” This is something that is particularly worrisome for Mexico, a country that, according to the most recent Global Entrepreneurship Index, fell three positions down due to weak cultural support, and a negative perception of business opportunities and entrepreneurial skills of the population.

“Whenever there is an act of corruption in an industry, it affects perception, and we already are not known as a country with high-reliability indexes,” said Gustavo Huerta, CEO of BlueBox Ventures. “However, I believe that it will not discourage investors because we know the context of this specific case.” To his point, nobody in the U.S. stopped investing in startups because of what Elizabeth Holmes did.

Specialists consulted for this article agreed that a single case does not speak of the entire Latin American ecosystem and, on the contrary, it offers us a great opportunity to learn and to continue maturing. “They should be treated as what they are: isolated cases,” said Gerardo Obregón, founder and CEO of, one of the biggest fintech companies in the region. “To reduce its effects, it is simply up to the entrepreneurs to verify that, despite the success or failure of our companies, we can keep our integrity intact. It seems to me that this is the case of 99 percent of the Mexican entrepreneurs I know.”

Without a doubt, as the Latin American entrepreneurial environment continues to grow, these cases will continue to happen. That is why Alejandro Lomas points out that we must emphasize the importance of the entrepreneur as a person and detect cases where numbers are too good to be true as early as possible. “In the end, as in any industry, not everything will be perfect all the time.”

Bismarck Lepe, CEO of Wizeline, a provider of business solutions with artificial intelligence based in San Francisco and Mexico City, published a powerful letter on his LinkedIn page regarding the case of Yogome. In that letter, he asked entrepreneurs not to forget that, “investors pay attention first to people and then to the business itself.” He also stressed that the startup sector in the region is strong enough to overcome this bad moment.

I agree. Let’s all remember that in the same month that the case of Yogome broke the news, the Colombian company Rappi was valued at $1 billion and Corner Shop was acquired in its entirety by Walmart de México y Centroamérica.

Let’s learn from this case and move on.

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Entrepreneurship begins with a dream but succeeds with the motivation to back it up.

6 min read

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

So you didn’t follow the Elon Musk path of creating a computer game at age 12 or cold-calling a corporate banking maven to snag a paying internship? You can still become a compelling, talked-about entrepreneur if you follow a few best practices.

Entrepreneurship begins not just with a dream, but also with the motivation to back it up. To offer a domestic parallel, we all know the apartment dweller who always thinks about how life will change “when I own my own place” — a place that will never exist because he can’t muster the energy to toss his recyclables in the bin down the hallway.

Don’t be that guy: Take the initiative to realize your dreams and join the founders’ ranks. You can start by learning from successful leaders who’ve gone before you.

Yes, entrepreneurs can be made.

Many people think that entrepreneurs are born, but that’s simply not true. Perhaps the desire or hardwiring to be an entrepreneur is somewhat innate, but plenty of folks have built booming small businesses based primarily on need or circumstances.

Of course, you do need to exhibit a few basic traits to succeed as your own boss. Not being afraid of hard work is the first one. Another is being able to handle financial uncertainty. Those are no-brainers for entrepreneurs, even ones with tons of cash in their pockets when they begin the journey.

Confidence, creativity and people skills are additional must-haves for entrepreneurs. Yet there are other less-discussed attributes that separate the best entrepreneurs from those who will never own their own place, so to speak.

Related: 10 Personality Traits of Legendary Entrepreneurs

1. They aren’t put off by failure.

It’s one thing to get accustomed to hearing the word “no.” But entrepreneurs don’t just accept rejection: They look for ways to overcome it with effective communication and moxie. Plus, they don’t accept failure as an end but rather as a reason to pave a different path. In other words, they see possibilities, not barriers.

Take the story of Sophia Amoruso. As the founder and CEO of Girlboss, she had been riding high until a couple years ago, when her star power turned sour. Facing tremendous backlash, she reimagined her role and overcame the critics with resolve and more than a modicum of transparency. Her genuine approach won her allies when she needed them most and pulled her career out of what could have been an unstoppable nosedive.

2. They sell from the heart.

Mike Monroe, digital strategy manager at Vector Marketing, walks around with a vision in mind. Wherever he goes, he talks about his company’s vision rather than its products. He’s selling ideas, not things, which he recommends as a tried-and-true concept. “Paint specific details about how the product or service will improve the customer’s life, and that vision drives the sale,” he explains.

Don’t mistake selling for talking nonstop about the greatness of your offerings to anyone within earshot. Certainly, you need to be the lead salesperson for your business, but you must temper your desire to hustle with the realization that people hate a hard sell. Wear your company’s vision on your sleeve, but remember that closing the sale will be much easier if you don’t push too hard.

3. They seek out mentors.

Mentorship is critical for entrepreneurs because mentors share vital resources and foster connections. Consider Natalie Cofield, the founder of Walker’s Legacy, named for self-made millionaire Madam C. J. Walker. Cofield leaned heavily on mentors to guide and inspire her in her career. She is now seen as a role model for female entrepreneurs of color because she realized how crucial that role is and built a business out of it.

Not sure how to find a mentor? Look first to the people you already know or are connected to in person or online. LinkedIn is a terrific place to forge contacts and make new friendships. Mentorships can be informal or formal, but all successful ones involve trust and honesty from both parties.

Related: 5 Successful Entrepreneurs Who Started With No Experience But Made Sure They Got It

4. They banish distractions.

Founders live in a constantly changing environment filled with distractions. Smart ones learn early how to focus on what’s important and push the rest to the side. Anit Hora, founder of Brooklyn-based skincare company Mullein & Sparrow, has learned to balance her life just as she balances ancient Indian medicine and Western herbalism in her products. By carefully evaluating the value of each meeting and networking event, she remains in control of her time, which in turn creates a healthier work-life experience.

Without a doubt, some days will be filled with unexpected urgencies. However, the more you’re able to set boundaries, the better you can accomplish high-priority goals.

Related: 10 Supremely Successful Entrepreneurs Share the Secrets to Having More Money

5. They live their purpose.

Is writing checks to local nonprofits the extent of your community support? It’s time to re-examine the way you think about charity and giving. For instance, if your mission is to support local businesses, everything you do should bolster your objective.

Take a page from the founder of Nic & Luc Jam, Leroy Bautista. Bautista invented a hot-selling line of sauces and related items, all derived from ingredients that were sourced from produce grown near his headquarters. His business plan inherently helps other local businesses. Bautista’s tale proves you can live any purpose — even one that might seem limiting to those on the outside of your vision — and make a profit, too.

Worried that you might not have what it takes to be an entrepreneur? You might just be missing a few key building blocks. Look to the qualities that have made other founders stand out and add them to your own entrepreneurial blueprint. You may own the place sooner than you think.

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Talk to these three people–who are more likely to tell you “no”–before handing over your hard-earned cash for a franchise business.

5 min read

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

The following excerpt is from Mark Siebert’s book The Franchisee Handbook: Everything You Need to Know About Buying a Franchise. Buy it now from Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Apple Books | IndieBound

One of the principles every buyer must follow is to understand the motivations of every seller. When someone is selling a house, they’re motivated to show that house in the best possible light. Does that mean everything they tell you is untrue? Of course not. But you should still do a home inspection.

Similarly, when you’re far enough along that you have a short list of franchises you’re seriously considering investing in, you should bring in outside expertise (if you haven’t done so already). When buying a business, you want to hire people you’re paying to say, “No!” Just as a home inspector is motivated to point out every wart and flaw, you need experts to help you realistically evaluate the franchise opportunity.

Who are these people? And what are their motivations?

Start with your banker. Bankers get paid for making loans. If they can’t put their money to work, they don’t make money. So they’re motivated to make loans. But the most important factor that allows a banker to make money is the percentage of bad loans. Too many, and they’ll find themselves in the unemployment line in a hurry. Thus, a banker’s real motivation is to make only good loans. That’s why most bankers are so conservative.

A banker gets paid to identify anything that can go wrong and to be sure that the bank (not you) can recover from those mistakes. Since they don’t want a loan to go south on them, they can serve as a professional skeptic—almost like a consultant you don’t have to pay. Now that you have only a handful of franchise opportunities on your short list, you should approach your banker and present him with your preliminary financial analysis.

He may be able to point out flaws in your business plan or financial model. Or he may be enthusiastic about your prospects of obtaining a loan. Listen closely to what he has to tell you. But again, remember that he gets paid to make loans. And as long as he gets repaid (even if he has to go after your collateral), he won’t be risking much.

Next, talk to an accountant. On a basic level, accountants are motivated by their hourly fees. What keeps them looking out for your best interests? Two things. First, you can’t bill a lot of hours without delivering something of value in return. If your accountant comes back, says, “Looks great!” and sends you a hefty bill, not only will you never use her again, but you may not even pay her. And you certainly wouldn’t refer others to her.

She wants to show you she knows her business, impress you with her acumen, and stun you with her brilliance. The best way to do that is to find every little problem and false assumption possible—and then charge you a hefty sum.

The second reason your accountant is a useful ally is that she has something to fear. You pay her good money to look out for your best interests. If you invest in that franchise and it turns out the financial assumptions she developed or signed off on were flawed, she knows she’s likely to get sued (or, at a minimum, be subjected to scathing reviews on the internet). And no professional wants that.

If you haven’t yet hired an accountant, now’s the time to sit down with one and go over your financial calculations line by line. Make sure she understands every assumption and underlying premise behind your calculations.

Finally, you should hire an attorney with experience in franchising. Like accountants, they have similar motivations for playing devil’s advocate. They’re paid to be deal breakers. Unlike accountants and bankers, however, you shouldn’t get them involved in the process too early. While a good attorney will know more than just the law, many don’t have an adequate understanding of the financial side of business—and that’s not what you pay them for. Have a banker and an accountant do the number crunching before the deal gets into the attorney’s hands. If the deal doesn’t make financial sense, the contract really doesn’t matter!

Let me reemphasize one significant point here: The professionals you hire must bring quality advice to the table. That means they should have good, relevant experience. Of course, they’ll almost invariably tell you they have it. Get specifics! What franchises have they worked with? What references can they provide? Don’t be afraid to interview multiple attorneys, accountants, and bankers to see if you want to work with them. Remember, they’re vying to win your business.

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The burrito chain the had biggest gains on the Entrepreneur Index™ today.

3 min read

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Chipotle Mexican Grill on a serious tear of late, is taking its advertising strategy to a new level. The burrito company announced the hiring of Oscar-winning documentary director Errol Morris to create an ad campaign for the company. Investors liked the idea, sending the stock up 3.59 percent — the biggest gain on the Entrepreneur Index™ today.

Chipotle shares popped more than eleven percent last Thursday when the company reported a ten percent jump in sales and destroyed earnings estimates. They have surged by 39.7 percent so far this year.

The rest of the stock market was relatively quiet today. Prices were up briefly this morning, but the indexes gave back most of their gains and ended the day flat. The S&P 500 and Nasdaq Composite indexes were up 0.07 percent and 0.13 percent respectively, while the Dow fell 0.21 percent. The Entrepreneur Index™ closed the day up 0.53 percent.

Related: Chipotle Is Opening Dozens of Locations With Drive-Thru-Style ‘Chipotlanes’

L Brands had the third biggest gain on the index today, rising 2.69 percent. The stock is up just under six percent this year but down more than 50 percent in the last twelve months. Last week, the company reported that sales for its flagship Victoria’s Secret brand were down(again) by one percent in January. L Brands will report fourth quarter earnings at the end of the month.

Conglomerate Loews Corp. had the biggest decline on the Entrepreneur Index™ today, dropping 6.15 percent. The company reported a loss in the fourth quarter driven largely by increased catastrophe losses at its majority-owned insurance subsidiary CNA Financial. The stock is now down 2.1 percent for the year.

Only three other stocks on the index declined by more than one percent today. Comcast, (-1.58 percent), and Verisign Inc. (-1.47 percent) fell furthest.

Other gains on the index included health care IT provider Cerner Corp. (2.7 percent), Fedex Corp. (2.17 pecent), and Hess Corp. (2.12 percent). Tesla was also up sharply, rising 2.17 percent after a Canaccord Genuity analyst upgraded the stock and set a price target of $450. It currently trades at $313.

The Entrepreneur Index™ collects the top 60 publicly traded companies founded and run by entrepreneurs. The entrepreneurial spirit is a valuable asset for any business, and this index recognizes its importance, no matter how much a company has grown. These inspirational businesses can be tracked in real time on

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