Archives For entrepreneurs

I’m just leaving Dallas this afternoon after a great meeting with over  2000  home school parents and young people.  This morning I presented ideas to help people develop entrepreneurial thinking and leadership – to be less risk averse and more innovative.  A few points are worth noting here:

  • Most of our schooling prepared us for corporate America, not high risk/ high reward positions like sales and small business entrepreneurship.  Think about it – when was the last time you received high grades for being creative?  Most of my instructors requested the work be done a certain way…where is innovation in all of this.  Imagine if the teachers told us computers had to stay in data centers.  Where would iPads and Smartphones be?
  • Creativity is the key to success. Coming up with new ways to do things and solving problems no one else can solve.  What are you doing to build creativity.  I listed several things that are known destroyers of creativity…Late night television and not enough sleep are low hanging fruit, but there are many things all of do that simply keep us from thinking outside of the box.
  • Wanting the safety of high bases and lower commissions is another lie – no position is safe, and those who aim to be high producers, and work at it, will be.  Be great and take the higher leveraged pay plan.

I also spoke to young people on starting businesses in the afternoon.  It’s easy to start one, hard to keep one.  One factor is learning the four things buyers buy – learning to discover critical needs within the companies you serve and then developing lasting answers for these companies.  If you can make a company more profitable, you’ll have customers.  Become a problem solver and stop selling commodity products at commodity discounts.  We explored areas of need, examples of young people producing, selling, and profiting in their teen years, and talked about the need to learn while you’re young.  Learning the hard lessons of business while supporting a family is not the best way…most of us know that.  Imagine if your kids could know what you know about business before they hit age 18?

© 2011, David Stelzl

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Leadership and survival skills…how does one learn how to navigate through difficulty and face life threatening conditions?  Here’s one way…

We started out Friday in 19°F  weather under a blue sky:

Bethany, David, and I planned to cover about 15 miles over 3 days, however we didn’t plan on needing snow shoes based on past experiences at Mount Rogers Recreational Area.

Over several miles of strenuous hiking through deep snow drifts and snow covered trail blazes, our orienteering skills were tested giving me an opportunity to teach my children how to triangulate using topo maps and a liquid filled compass (yes, we actually still use a compass – which I find is a lost art).  David, my 15 year old son was leading, and keeping an eye on our time and progress.  Knowing the sun would be setting at 5:30 gave us a very limited amount of daylight to reach a safe campsite.  At one point David realized we would probably not make it and recommended an alternative route, which we all agreed would be best.

By 4:30 we had made it to our alternative campsite and set up as the sun was setting.  We ate freeze dried chicken teriyaki which David graciously prepared while Bethany and I set up camp.  By 5:30 the sun was setting and we ate overlooking the lights of Sparta NC in the distance.  Our campsite is at an elevation of close to 6000 feet – treeless, and reminiscent of the Sierras.

Our night was bitter cold, reaching down into the single digit temperatures…high winds and some snow!

On day two we opted for a day hike to Mt. Rogers…our first big challenge was to find water nearby our new campsite.  We were able to locate what appeared to be a creek about half a mile down the trail.  We set out, bottles and filter in hand, to locate this creek.  When we finally did come to what seemed to be a creek – it was covered in snow and no water seemed to be flowing.  David followed the creek down to a small iced-covered puddle and was able to break through to a shallow water collecting point.  We dug it out to create a small reservoir, let the water settle and began pumping.  Unfortunately the extreme temperatures caused our water filter to freeze up immediately.  The next idea was to fill our bottles from the source and boil the water.  This added some extra fiber to the water, but I’m sure we’ll live.

From there we set out on our day hike, climbing over ridges, rocks, drifts, and crossing windy balds.  The views were amazing.

Wooded sections near  Rhododendron Gap

Climbing over snow drifts and rock outcroppings

and returning to our base camp for dinner.  Here is a shot of the sunset – the start of a very cold night!

The next morning was bitter cold – here is a shot of my ice covered headlamp hanging inside the tent!

Once packed, we set out on the AT heading for the Massy Gap parking area and headed home.  We all agreed to do it again, next time with snow shoes!

© 2011, David Stelzl

Interesting article today related to my ongoing theme and future book on Raising Entrepreneurs.  Writer Jeff Opdyke (so close to John Updike he was destined to write!) comments on his thirteen year old getting a job.  Actually it’s a great write up as he contemplates the reality of teaching his young ones how to work and instilling some kind of work ethic.  The disconnect comes with thinking work is somehow a deterrent to having a great childhood!  Nothing could be farther from the truth.  The problem here is that we’ve associated work with jobs at a fast-food restaurant or blue collar operation.

Sure, not every child comes from a family where opportunity is readily available (although many can make it happen if they really try – most won’t)  But certainly John’s do.  Stop thinking about work as something a teenager goes out to do and start thinking more in terms of the entrepreneurial experiences available along side a parent or sibling.  The writer actually comes close to making the right connection when he references the traveling and learning experiences his thirteen year old is already engaged in.  Think outside the box.  What can he do to incorporate this child in his own work in a more profitable way?

We’ve created worldview that assumes all well-off families have children that will follow suite without experiencing the work we did to get here.  That’s just wrong.  From there, we assume that teen years should be spent playing ball, and then somehow, magically, one is transformed in their college years, into a hard working, creative entrepreneur.  This is also not true.  The time to start is now!  In those early years, finding exciting ways to make money.  My kids are bee farming, building things, creating jewelry, building blogs and websites, and writing books.  They are making money through their own creative efforts, and daily, they consider how else one might creatively start a new line of business.  It’s a game in a way.  What need can I meet, and how can make it a win/win that produces profit for me and value to my clients?  Are they somehow missing out on a great childhood?  I doubt it.

You can read John’s article here (and I do recommend reading it): http://online.wsj.com/article/SB128121678189825407.html?mod=iGoogle

The Solo Age

February 8, 2010 — Leave a comment

Wall Street’s Article in today’s paper, Succeeding in the Age of Going Solo, has some great thoughts for sales people.  The article is really written for all of those professionals who at some point in the last decade faced a layoff and ended up on the street with a resume and no openings.  I am seeing this on the sales side more and more as sales get harder, margins get thinner, and companies are putting projects on hold (although there seems to be some warming on high-tech spending right now).

Here are a few key points:

  • “Waiting for business to find you is not something successful consultants (sales people) do.  Clients know a halfhearted attempt when they see one.”
  • “The consultants (sales people) who are most successful offer a technical skill or expertise that is too expensive or infrequently used for companies to keep in-house. ” (Do you sell one of these?)
  • Cutting edge expertise is vital to long term professional health. Successful consultants don’t let their skills coast, even for a short period.  There are simply too many consultants waiting to take their work” (this goes equally for sales people.)  This means investing in yourselves – getting training, coaching, reading, etc.
  • Bad service warning: “with social networking and the constant contact of email and texting, word or a perceived violation spreads rapidly.”
  • “Think like an entrepreneur” (a quote from my Making Money with Security Part 2 Class).  This means a lot of things…remember most entrepreneurs don’t actually succeed; probably because they are not thinking like entrepreneurs.
  • Entrepreneurs – “need a business plan and a mission statement.”  Sales people need this too – don’t rely on the esoteric statements coming out of corporate or through partners and vendors.
  • The author writes, “Interview after interview, I was also shocked by how unprepared so many new “consultants” were in organizing their businesses.”  I echo this!
  • “They lived in the moment…a business recipe for disaster.”

© David Stelzl 2010

Raising entrepreneurs

January 27, 2010 — Leave a comment

Watch as I explain to two entrepreneurs how selling works in a bad economy!

© David Stelzl 2010