Tag Archives: strategy

The Secret of Success? Planning and Execution.

I frequently consult young entrepreneurs seeking advice on establishing new business ventures.

Typically, they’re a group of close friends, former classmates or loose affiliates, galvanized by a strong central figure or idea that they collectively believe in.

Often this allegiance manifests itself in some form or other, that evidences the sincerity of their commitment and desire to bring their idea to fruition.

Sometimes this manifestation is a one-sheet or prospectus.

Other times, it’s the first draft of a business plan.

And still others, its a landing page or website.

Very rarely, though, I come across a young entrepreneur or group of entrepreneurs, who have it all: business plan, marketing materials, financial projections, website and launch strategy.

I’m always excited when I encounter individuals like these, because it’s much easier to refine material that’s been primed, than trying to work the raw material itself.

Recently, I’ve been approached by an organization that seems to have the hallmarks of this rare breed of entrepreneur.

Since I’m bound by an NDA, I can’t talk about them or their project in any real detail.

But I can talk about what makes them exceptional, as a case study for other young entrepreneurs seeking to find success outside of a traditional 9 to 5.

So here are the five signs of a successful entrepreneur.

1. Planning makes perfect. One of the most important traits of any successful entrepreneur is the ability to plan. Success doesn’t ‘just happen’. It comes as the result of careful planning. I frequently refer to Sun Tzu, when I talk of planning, because it’s through planning that one defeats their enemy. Failure is the enemy. And as the saying goes, “he who fails to plan, plans to fail.” I’ll take it one step further and say, “he who plans poorly, fails miserably.” To avoid the pitfalls of no/poor planning, I recommend the use of online project management and collaboration programs, like Basecamp, to take your planning to the next level.

2. Document everything. Having an idea of how you plan to get something done isn’t the same as documenting that plan. It’s important that your plans are memorialized in writing for a number of reasons, not the least of which is that it puts everyone on the same page (pun intended). If you’re concerned about maintaining documents in a usable and shareable way, Google Docs is an excellent tool for storing, sharing and editing documents online.

3. Scared money don’t make no money. A serious entrepreneur understands the importance of raising and spending money. The best ideas in the world go nowhere because they can’t get investment. I’m not talking IPO money or VC capital to build a prototype, hire staff and file patents. I’m talking basics: get a domain name, hire a web developer, get some business cards made. You’ve got to have a strategy for funding your company or idea, especially at its initial phases. Optimally, you can get your business up and running and generating revenue before you have to ask anyone (beyond friends and family) for money. Once you’ve got it going, you’ve got to have a strategy for sustaining and growing it. The presence/absence of a fundraising strategy is one of the key indicators of the viability of any business. Kickstarter is a great resource for jump starting York fundraising initiatives.

4. Get your tech on. In business nowadays, technology is the great equalizer. One trait that I find particularly intriguing about young entrepreneurs is their propensity to develop new platforms, and the fact that they understand the strategic importance of positioning technology in the marketplace. A good idea can become an overnight success through the effective utilization and implementation of technology. Whether its something as innovative as a new platform or as mundane as having a mobile website, integrating technology into your strategy is a sure means of differentiating you from your (potential) competitors.

5. Get sound advice. Have you ever drafted what you though was the perfect email? You labored over every word and read and re-read until you were certain it was just right. Then, satisfied, you press send. Of course, the minute it leaves your desktop you notice you’ve misspelled something. Or used “your” when you meant to use “you’re”. Or “there” instead of “their”. If only someone else had proofread it before it went out!

Starting a business venture is like preparing that email. Even when you think you’ve thought of everything, a more seasoned eye can spot things that you’ve missed. Having an experienced advisor, advisors or board of directors can be a valuable tool for not only launching your business, but growing and expanding your business as well.

If I had to give a formula for a successful entrepreneur: success = planning + execution.

Lots of people have good ideas.

What separates them from the guy sitting on his couch saying, “Hey! I thought of that years ago!” is that they got off their asses and did something about it.

Now get off your ass!

If you’re interested in getting some advice for your business idea, feel free to drop me a line.

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How Do You Dethrone Charles Rangel? Guerilla Style. Welcome to Team Morgan!

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Vince Morgan looking dapper at our lunch meeting at Settepani.

Anyone who knows me, knows that I’ve been working with Vincent Morgan and his campaign to become the next Congressman for the 15th District of New York, a seat currently occupied by Charles Rangel.

In 2010, we ran an unsuccessful bid to unseat Rangel, who was in the midst of an ethics investigation, and perhaps more vulnerable than he had ever been in his 40 years on office.

Although we ran a smart race, we did things the traditional way, and were very careful not to say anything too polarizing or controversial about Mr. Rangel.

We wanted Vince to be the focus of our efforts and not Mr. Rangel, who everyone else seemed to be gunning for.

We are now, once again, in an election cycle, and with an election under our belt, we feel confident that the results will be different, this time around.

Why?

Well for one, it’s a presidential election year. People typically turn out to vote in greater numbers when the president is on the bill. In the last primary election, Rangel won with less than 20,000 votes. In a District with over 200,000 registered Democrats, that screams apathy. It says that folks weren’t particularly interested in the race OR that they weren’t interested enough to vote for Rangel OR that they believed that Rangel’s re-election was a foregone conclusion. Whatever the case the last time around, this year, it’s a whole new ballgame.

Second, we know what we’re up against. In the last election, we were green. We had no idea what we were doing or what to expect. Although we were very passionate about getting Vince elected, our strategy for how we’d accomplish that was untested. This time around, we’ve got a game plan. We’ve got a great (and growing) team of experts. Our message is tight and our candidate is out early, raising awareness about his campaign.

Third, we are raising money. Everyone in this politics game knows that you need money to run a campaign. Nearly everyone in the race last time raised and spent more money than we did. This time around, raising money is of paramount importance to our efforts. Even though folks aren’t pouring boatloads of money into our coffers (yet), we’re focused on fundraising. What’s interesting is that it seems that everyone else is finding fundraising challenging too.

Fourth, our street game is bananas. Unlike anyone else in the race or planning on running, Vince has young legs and is ready to walk the entire district. We’re actively recruiting young college students, who have unbridled energy and a real desire to participate in the political process to add to our street team. Keep your eyes on the streets in Harlem, in the coming days, and you’ll see what I mean.

Fifth, we are masters of all things digital. There is no other candidate in this race with the internet, social media and general online savvy of Team Morgan. Vince is fond of telling the story of how he taught Mr. Rangel how to turn on his computer. And while the story is genuinely funny, it underscores the point that Mr. Rangel is out of touch with so much more than just the District he purports to represent.

Unlike other candidates, Vince is particularly savvy with all things digital. Vince regularly blogs, tweets, FourSquares, updates his Facebook and other social media profiles himself. He’s equally comfortable on his iPhone, iPad2 or Mac. In an increasingly technological age, it is of critical importance that our officials that aren’t technologically out of touch.

Applying the Art of War to a campaign.

Sixth, we’re going guerrilla. If you’ve ever read The Art of War by Sun Tzu, you know that any successful campaign starts with a plan. But rather than being focused on some rigid, fixed strategy, Sun Tzu emphasized the need for flexibility and fluidity, the ability to quickly adapt to changed(ing) situations.

Finally, folks recognize that enough is enough. One of the central themes (and campaign slogan) for this election cycle is that “It’s Time.” It’s time for Rangel to step down. It’s time for cronyism to end. It’s time to re-establish confidence in our elected officials. It’s time that big business did it’s fair share for the people, and not at the expense of the people.

Every once in a while, you’ll notice that I post up about Vince, share a story or link, or ask you to donate to the M4C campaign. I’m going to keep doing that. But I’m also going to write about what’s going on in the campaign, from behind-the-scenes.

Hopefully, you’ll be excited about what we’re doing, and join us…or give us money…or share it with your friends…or give us money…or volunteer to work with the campaign…or give us money.

And if you’re at a total loss for how to get involved, you can just give us money.

So stay tuned for my daily updates and welcome to Team Morgan!

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