About

February 2018 Business eNewsletter

Welcome to our February business eNewsletter focused on overcoming obstacles in your small business.

Quote of the month:
“Success is to be measured not so much by the position that one has reached in life as by the obstacles which he has overcome.” – Booker T. Washington

In this Issue…


SpiritBank Business Resource Series Event

Join Transworld Business Advisors of Tulsa and SpiritBank for our next Business Resource Series Event!

Featuring author, realtor and former news anchor, Beth Rengel, who will be discussing how to overcome obstacles in business.

Enjoy networking, drinks and hors d’oeuvres, and a lively presentation at this free event.

February 15, 2018
5:30 – 7:00 p.m.
SpiritBank, 1800 S. Baltimore Ave., Tulsa

Please RSVP to Katie Segner at ksegner@spiritbank.com or (918) 295-7222.

This series brought to you by Transworld Business Advisors of Tulsa and SpiritBank. Our mission is to provide you with expert advice, information and resources as you need them with no sales pitch. “When our customers succeed, we succeed!”

 


How to Achieve Success by Overcoming These 3 Common Failures
By David Brown, Founder and co-CEO, Techstars

Confidence is not always the key to success.

The 2018 Winter Olympics are almost upon us, and as an avid skier, I like to look back at all the times my favorite Olympians have faced career shifting hurdles and unfavorable outcomes, and how those experiences have gotten them to where they are today. Olympic Alpine Ski Racing gold medalist, Lindsey Vonn, said it best in an interview with PopSugar in 2014 after her infamous knee injury: “Even if you have setbacks and you have bad days, you have to believe in yourself that things are going to turn around.”

Whether you’re an Olympian, a successful business owner, or an aspiring entrepreneur, all of these people have something in common. They didn’t get where they are today by getting everything right the first time. They probably faced many failures and setbacks on their journeys that have helped them get to where they are today.

It’s not a matter of if you’ll face failure, it’s a matter of when and what you take away from that failure that will push you forward.

Here are the three most common types of failure that people experience, and the lessons you can learn from these setbacks to motivate you to achieve success in business and in life:

1. Overconfidence

Being confident is often seen as a strong personality trait in business, and in any sport. However, it can often be a double-edged sword.

Most of our favorite athletes have been caught up in overconfident behavior that caused them some trouble. Remember the infamous cell phone celebration by NFL wide receiver Joe Horn after a touchdown? That overconfident, cocky act got him a nice $30,000 fine.

Being too confident is, in fact, a thing. Overconfidence can often lead to failure and is the very reason why many bull-headed entrepreneurs miss a chance at success.

From a young age, we’re taught that confidence and success are often correlated. In order to succeed, this is a hurdle that we need to overcome — or else we may face defeat.

Determination and overconfidence are not the same thing. You can have strong determination while staying humble along the way.

When starting a business, you need to identify obstacles in your path and risks that you might face and figure out how to nail each down one at a time. Overconfidence leads you to think that you’re right 100 percent of the time to the point where you don’t listen to advice for anyone else.

2. Failed Relationships

It’s extremely easy to rely too much on yourself in entrepreneurship. But many businesses fail due to the lack of team.

You cannot do everything on your own. You’ll become overworked and the outcome can lead to the failure of your business. This works the same way for athletes. The Olympic Training Center, which is located only a few hours away from my office, reminds me that even the best athletes have a massive training team to push them to be their best selves.

No business can succeed without teamwork. Just because you came up with the idea, does not mean you’re going to be the best person to handle the finances, manage customers and market your products. Realizing you are not a one man band will help you delegate to suit your team’s talent.

All businesses run on relationships. But with all relationships, we can and will make mistakes somewhere down the line.

Failed relationships in business come with a high price, resulting in wasted training, partnerships and investments. These are things that happen in any business or industry.

You can’t entirely avoid bad business relationships or bad hires, but you can improve the odds of avoiding these relationships by learning from your past bad relationships. Look at the positive and negative indicators you should have looked out for in the last failed relationship, and know what raises red flags.

3. Pivot Paralysis

When starting a business, entrepreneurs often face paralysis when it comes to having to pivot their business plan. Failure often comes from not being able to adapt to events or conditions that they were not expecting in their paths.

Something similar happened to Yvon Chouinard, the creator of Patagonia. He started making climbing pitons (the anchor you hammer into the wall to save your life) and eventually pivoted his efforts to outdoor clothing after many of his friends were envious of his flashy colored, handmade clothing. Climbing pitons are now a rare commodity in the climbing world, but Chouinard was lucky to pivot Patagonia to focus on clothing that has stood the test of time.

This paralysis causes many to panic and give up because they cannot rethink their strategy. Eric Ries, entrepreneur, author and pioneer of the lean startup movement, told Inc. back in 2011 that “through pivots, we can build companies where the failure of the initial idea isn’t the failure of the company.”

Once you realize a pivot isn’t the end for you or your business, you can successfully refocus and develop an idea that is much more successful than the first.

Read this article Inc.com


4 Great Ways to Overcome Your Biggest Business Obstacles
By Leonard Kim, Managing partner, Build Your Influence

As the great playwright Samuel Beckett once said, “Ever tried, ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.” These are words that entrepreneurs embrace everyday, as each failure is a chance to start over and better.

Starting a business is tough. It is even tougher when you are looking at creating a business that operates at an international level.

In a recent interview with Chris Folayan, founder and CEO of MallforAfrica, a global e-commerce platform that enables Africans to purchase goods from the US and UK, I asked Chris how he overcame obstacles in his company.

Without missing a beat, Chris replied, “I don’t know any entrepreneur who hasn’t failed at something at one point or another. The problems I incurred early on not only provided the momentum for crafting solutions, but were necessary in that it paved the way for my future successes and made me truly appreciate it all the more.”

Understanding that obstacles are something that people face no matter what business they start, Chris shared 4 of his deepest insights on how to overcome them and get ahead:

1. Brainstorm, then solve problems

Finding a solution to a problem is the first step in building a successful business. First you become aware that something went wrong and then you begin to figure out why.

Chris Folayan started his company MallforAfrica on that premise. For years, Chris traveled from the US to Nigeria with suitcases filled with merchandise his family wanted, as they were unable to purchase the items online.

Why?

US retailers refused to ship to Africa.

During one of his last trips to Nigeria, Chris tried to bring 10 suitcases with him and was refused by the airlines for exceeding the limit. Recognizing the enormity of the problem and the need for a solution, Chris built a system that now allows Africans to purchase merchandise from over 150 retail stores in the US and UK.

2. Critique yourself and your team

Although an uncomfortable situation to be in, don’t shy away from critiquing yourself and your team as it is an integral step in building and sustaining a successful business.

Understanding what could have been done better will:

a.) Help to avoid repeating the same mistakes.

b.) Provide insight into how to improve.

c.) Enable you to be better equipped next time.

The more you think about and/or experience problems and how to resolve them, the more you train yourself and the people around you to be the powerhouse of lightning quick solutions.

3. Develop emotional rollercoaster resilience

With all problems come disappointment. An emotional roller-coaster effect built on the repetitive concept of should have, would have, could have will never get you anywhere. The rollercoaster will keep moving whether you are on it or not. Instead of being disappointed, focus, regroup, then execute better the next time around.

Most successful people have always found ways to turn their failures into successes. Their background stories reflect resilience, as you never know what your failure today will lead to in a few years. But one thing is for certain, taking a problem, creating a plan that fixes it and then using it to your benefit can only make you stronger.

4. Stories of failures opens up the doors to success

Sharing the challenges and failures you have incurred will show others that you are human, resilient, ready for change, and display a level of maturity that is beyond complementary to any business. Investments are made in people who have learned from their mistakes because they made them stronger. The main reason recent graduates are not hired immediately into top management is because experience hasn’t taught them yet. So take those failures and stories and use them to improve yourself and build that path to eminent success.

Have you had to overcome challenges when growing your business? What kind? How did you overcome them and what did you learn? I’d love to learn more. Comment below!

Read this article at the Inc.com


How to Overcome Business Challenges

Every business will encounter various obstacles. It is how they manage the problems that will determine their success or failure in their industry. To ensure you successfully handle every problem, simply read the following advice on how to overcome business challenges.

Listen to Your Gut

Instinct can often be a business owner’s best friend. When there is no right or wrong answer, sometimes the only thing you can trust is your gut. Ignoring it could result in you making the wrong decision, which could pose a risk to your company’s success. Listen to your built-in radar when making decisions and hiring employees.

Streamline Processes

Complex, lengthy, mundane business processes can often reduce productivity and creativity. This can prevent companies from reaching their goals at the fastest possible rate. If your business is bogged down with too many tasks, it is essential to look for effective techniques or software to streamline processes. For example, learn more about the JD Edwards Consulting Company, who can help you implement a single-entry solution into your large or small business.

Adopt a Frugal Approach to Business

Many companies fail every year because they operate beyond their means. It is therefore important to frugally run your business. Embrace a small business mindset, even if you are running the largest organization on the planet. Microsoft is the perfect example, as the company has told its employees to think of them as “the biggest small company in the world” – so you’ll never spend more money than necessary.

Avoid Emotional Pricing

Many startup companies often do not know how to implement the right pricing strategies when first starting out. Unfortunately, many entrepreneurs make the big mistake of allowing their emotions to dictate the pricing of their products and services, as they may worry they will lose a sale if they price a product too high and rule themselves out of the industry before they have even started. However, this can result in a smaller profit margin that can slow down business growth. Always price with your head in business and never your heart. Identify your costs and thoroughly research your competition before you set prices, which you should periodically review.

Introduce New Business Strategies

Many business owners cling tightly onto old tools and techniques, because they don’t know any other way to run their company. However, you must regularly review your processes to ensure you are using the right tools and strategies for your business. For example, traditional companies will need to introduce online marketing techniques, such as blogging and social media, to replace or complement their tried and tested offline tactics.

Abandon What’s Not Working

Ensure your success by having the courage to walk away from a product, service, or process, even if you initially believed it would be beneficial for your business. These blinders can often stand in the way of your business growth and profitability, so you must strive to immediately identify what isn’t working for your company to quickly move on.

Read this article at the StrategyDriven.com


5 Steps to Overcoming Obstacles in Your Small Business
By Andrew Marder

“The thing that’s depressing about tennis is, no matter how good I get, I’ll never be as good as a wall.” – Mitch Hedberg

Personally and professionally, we’re constantly facing down walls and hurdles. Walls are unlike hurdles, though, in a bunch of important ways.

A hurdle is something that comes up at regular intervals, is easy to see past, and can be overcome with a little effort and planning. On the other hand, you never know when a wall is going to show up, they’re hard to see past, and not many folks can just leap over them.

Walls seem to stand in our way for weeks or months, or even years. They’re the things we see in the distance that take the wind out of our sails (metaphor mixing at its finest).

For example:

    • Your business can never compete with Amazon, so why even bother with X, Y, or Z?
    • Your BMI is 37 and you can barely walk a mile, much less run one, so how can you ever get healthy
    • You’ll never speak French as well as a native Parisian, so why even bother?

These aren’t hurdles. You don’t overcome them in a single weekend, and their mere existence makes it harder to address the underlying issue. Why work to be better if you can’t be “the best,” whatever that means. It’s standing at the bottom of the mountain with no rope.

Man, I love metaphors.

Overcoming obstacles and loss aversion

There’s a bit of “letting the perfect be the enemy of the good” here. When you’re looking at something as overwhelming as the power of Amazon, it’s hard to even formulate a plan of attack. That’s classic loss aversion.

We don’t see the opportunity in things because we’re hardwired to see the potential losses. Carl Richards summed this all up in a New York Times article on the psychology of investing a few years back:

“We hesitate to change from the current situation because it means having an opinion and making a decision. And with a decision comes the very real possibility that we’ll make the wrong one. Sticking with the status quo feels much better even if we know it’s costing us money.”

Today, we’re going to look at ways to change your mindset, develop a realistic plan, and keep your eyes on the prize to overcome the fear of loss and your walls, all in five simple steps.

Step 1: Set realistic expectations

The first and most important step to overcoming loss aversion is to have a realistic expectation about how things could turn out. If you walk into a casino certain that you’ll walk out either destitute or a millionaire, you’re in for a bad time. Instead, think about what could actually happen and what kind of control you have over the situation.

Take a scenario where you’re opening a store. Let’s say you want to sell camera equipment.

After some success, everything levels out and you start to think about next steps. In doing so, you realize that your biggest competitor isn’t the place across town, it’s Amazon. How in the world are you supposed to compete with Amazon, a $450 billion business?

It’s already happened. You’re in the grips of loss aversion paralysis.

To overcome the problem, rephrase the idea of success in realistic terms. Will you sell more camera gear than Amazon? No. But you could sell more to the local college, by working with the art department. Or you could focus on niche high-end used cameras. In short, you can focus on being a local winner, if not an Amazon destroyer.

There’s no end to the number of very successful things you could do with your business that don’t rely on “beating” Amazon. If you want to overcome your wall, you have to set a realistic expectation about success. Importantly, you have be happy with success you’re aiming at, even if it means Amazon stays in business.

If you set yourself up to be unhappy, even in success, none of the rest of this is going to be meaningful.

Step 2: Develop a plan with an endpoint

The next contributor to what is a seemingly insurmountable wall is that many of the plans we make are unfinishable.

If the plan is “sell more camera bags,” well, that’s not really a plan. That’s just a thing you want to do that has no endgame.

The Lowepro camera bag I ordered yesterday

A real, achievable plan looks more like:

Goal: Sell 350 camera bags this year

Actions:

  1. Meet with the art department and getting specs
    1. Price out a university discount
  2. Advertise on campus
  3. Run three free workshops during the fall semester

That’s a thing you can do and then be done with. It has a point at which it’s been achieved, freeing you up to reflect, iterate, and set a new plan.

For your wall, the plan is going to be much more detailed and may extend over a longer period of time. However complex it is, each step must play toward the end goal. Don’t generate a whole laundry list of tangents as part of your core plan.

Next, to make sure you’re staying on task, break each item down.

Step 3: Atomize your plan

“Atom” is derived from an ancient Greek word, “atomos,” which means indivisible. An atom is the smallest part of a thing or idea – not counting all the other super small stuff that actually makes up the guts of the universe.

To overcome the wall in front of you, it’s crucial that you break the plan into the smallest possible pieces. The goal of running a marathon is a very difficult goal to fathom. Even at a plan level (run five miles this week, run six next week, etc.) it can seem daunting.

“Run five miles this week during my afternoon breaks” can be broken into:

    1. Run one mile on Monday at 4 p.m.
    2. Run one mile on Tuesday at 3 p.m.
    3. Run one and a half miles on Thursday at 3 p.m.
    4. Run one and a half miles on Friday at 1 p.m.

You would break it up like this because the whole purpose of the plan is to make the wall seem like something that can be overcome. Each step in the plan is a tiny part of the climb. The smaller the steps are, the less overwhelming they are and, thus, the easier it is to tackle each one.

Step 4: Focus on one part at a time

Our whole plan for this plan (our metaplan, if you will) is to make something that initially seems difficult or overwhelming feel as easy as opening a door or waking up before noon. Multitasking is a wonderful human ability, but it’s also the quickest path to burying yourself in small tasks.

Instead of taking on five of your little plan steps at once, focus on getting one done at a time. There will, of course, be times where more than one thing is happening. Maybe you’re negotiating a lower price on a pallet of camera bags at the same time that you’re drawing up some advertising, but these situations should be the exception.

A laser focus can make the long road seem like a series of short trips.

A Kanban board

This is one of the components of the Getting Things Done (GTD) task management system or agile project management. Each task you have is prioritized and broken down into smaller tasks, making each of them a short, achievable subgoal.

Step 5: Accept the results and iterate

Apart from setting the goal, accepting the end result is maybe the hardest part of this whole thing. It’s hard because, in setting a realistic goal, you naturally trimmed out some of your loftier aspirations.

The year is done, and you’ve made yourself the biggest camera dealership in the city by working closely with the university and increasing your targeted sales. You’re still not as big as Amazon, and you may still be smaller than the place in the neighboring town.

That can sting – but only if you let it.

Instead of focusing on what you didn’t do, though, focus on what you’ve accomplished. You have to do it that way because it’s the only way to keep up the momentum you’ll need to start the whole process over.

By the time you overcome that first wall, you’re going to suddenly see another one looming. It’s time to set a new goal, make a new plan, and start acting on it. There’s no time to sit on your laurels or sulk.

This is why I said, “If you set yourself up to be unhappy, even in success, none of the rest of this is going to be meaningful.”
Overcoming obstacles for a lifetime

I think five steps is a pretty good start for overcoming some of the bigger challenges you’ll face, professionally and personally. Everything hinges on setting those expectations and being willing to live with the results you generate.

That’s life, though. If you set out to do something, you should set out to do the thing that’s going to work best for you, not something that’s just going to make you miserable.

As I mention in the “Atomize” section above, this system parallels a few others you can find in development and project management. If you want a more refined, which is to say, “written in a book and 150 pages too long,” version of this, you can check out GTD or Pomodoro or any XYZ system.

To that end, Capterra offers some great resources that could help you get started:

If you’re stuck on the goal setting portion of the process, I recommend talking it through with someone not involved in the business directly. Accountants and software developers are my usual sounding boards – they think clearly and have a good eye for achievable goals.

Finally, get some support, while you’re at it. Any long trek can wear a person down, no matter how robust their business plan is. If you have someone to share the ride with, things will feel less horrific.

Heck, drop a line in the comments and make a new friend. Maybe you can take down Amazon together. Good luck.

Read this article at the Capterra.com


6 Growth Challenges Your Business Will Face (And How to Overcome Them)
By Firas Kittaneh, Co-founder and CEO, Amerisleep

This entrepreneur multiplied his sales in two years. Here are some of his lessons learned.

In the last year alone, my business has tripled its revenue. Since 2015, our sales have grown exponentially. Of course, as we reached each new milestone, we experienced both opportunities and obstacles. For instance, in recent years, dozens of mattress companies have sprouted up, claiming they’ve developed the perfect product to facilitate better sleep.

Rather than treat each new business as a threat, we’ve welcomed the competition as it increases overall consumer demand and challenges us to provide better customer education and engineer higher-quality products.

To grow our business sustainably, we increased our headcount, optimized our business systems and upgraded our manufacturing processes. This has helped us ensure we could adequately meet customer demand and maintain our brand and customer service standards.

Below, I list six challenges leaders will face as their business grows, alongside advice that will help you successfully manage these changes.

1. Cash flow management.

Cash flow problems are the second most common reason why small businesses go bust, according to research from CB Insights. Owners have to spend money to make money during a growth period, but this concept can quickly get out of control and leave you in a precarious position.

Manage your cash carefully during these times. Turn to your channels that produce consistent sales and work to maximize their contributions to your bottom line. Negotiate favorable payment terms with partners and vendors too.

2. Responding to competition.

A funny thing happens when your company is successful – others recognize the opportunity and enter the industry. Many small business owners are unprepared for the realities of fierce competition, and they quickly lose their way in an attempt to respond.

Keep your focus on what you do best and continue to communicate your unique value proposition to prospects and customers.

3. Nurturing a great company culture.

Your company culture is affected by everyone involved with your organization. As you grow and more people come into your company’s orbit, it becomes more difficult to exert control over your culture and you run the risk of having it derailed.

To do this well, let your company values guide all of your decisions and hire great people who will embrace their role as champions of the organizational culture. With allies on your side at all levels of the business your culture will be allowed to grow and flourish.

4. Learning when to delegate and when to get involved.

There are times when entrepreneurs need to get personally involved in specific decisions, such as big-picture strategic planning and hiring for key positions. Then there are times where it is important to delegate and trust that your managers will make the best decision for their team and the company. Every business owner must learn to get a feel for these situations and step in when needed without burdening their leadership team.

5. Keeping up with market changes.

If your company operates in a sector that experiences frequent upheaval, you have to be prepared for constant change. Internalize the idea that disruption is the new normal and work on training your employees to be agile in the face of uncertainty.

6. Deciding when to abandon a strategy.

Sometimes marketing channels that seemed full of potential don’t pan out and new product lines don’t catch on as anticipated. Failures are an important part of business growth and owners must train themselves to recognize where they occur, divert resources accordingly and learn from those mistakes.

Read this article at the Inc.com