Small Business Stand Give Away: #Open4BizSA

What does it mean to be open for business? This is the question the Branson Centre Of Entrepreneurship asked and one of the solutions is to give entrepreneurs stalls, at 3 different venues. You get to hear about it here first and stand a chance to get a free stall in all 3 venues.

In a nutshell, Open For Business is an opportunity for small businesses to showcase their work to investors, mentors, customers and stand a chance to join the Branson Centre for kickass business training. Yes, if training and getting your business off the ground could be kickass – it would be what the Branson Centre Of Entrepreneurship offers. Not only was it founded by Richard Branson himself, they also expose you to the thinking and philosophies that make Virgin one of the world’s leading brands.

 

What’s in it for you?

 

Apart from joining other rockstars and showing off your stuff, which I know you love to do, you stand a chance to win a free stall for your business. There will be 3 different events, each with opportunities to network and sell.

 

Read on to find out how you can get yours free.

 

Dates and venues

 

Katlehong (08 August 2012)

 

Alexandra (06 October 2012)

 

Soweto (03 November 2012)

 

Here’s the deal

 

  1. Answer this question in the comments: what does it mean, in your business, to be open for business? The best answers win a stall and should you win, be prepared to go set up in Katlehong this Saturday. I’ll email you the details.
  2. Share this post on Twitter and use #Open4BizSA

 

If you would like to nominate a friend, let them know and invite them to participate.

 

Gareth Cliff On Everything blog tour: #CliffOnEverything

In November, I made an announcement about WordStart finally taking off. If you’d like to know more, start here.

For now, we have a blog tour for Gareth Cliff’s new book and tons of give-aways. The tour will stop at different blogs this week and next week till 27 November. WordStart is giving away books on Facebook and Twitter. Follow WordStart here: @WordStarters for up to the minute updates.

If you would like to win yourself a copy of the book, send 3 Tweets telling us why you want one and include #CliffOnEverything. The bloggers will help you by flipping through the pages and writing their thoughts on the book.

Check these blogs for reviews and prizes this week:

  1. Zahira Kharsany at 9:00am, on Tuesday 18 October 2011
  2. Khadija Patel at 15:00pm, on Tuesday 18 October 2011
  3. Nonkululeko Godana at 12:00pm, on Wednesday 19 October 2011
  4. Ideate at 15:00pm,  on Wednesday 19 October 2011
  5. Arthur Van Wyk at 12:00pm, on Thursday 20 October 2011
  6. SA Rocks at 10:00am, on Friday 21 October 2011
  7. Briget Ferguson at 12:00pm, on Friday 21 October 2011
  8. Sheena Gates at 14:00, on Friday 21 October 2011

Follow #CliffOnEverything on Twitter for awesome prizes.

Short Book Review: Poke The Box by Seth Godin

Seth Godin made an announcement last year that he wouldn’t publish another book through traditional means. Never again! There was much debate online, questions were asked and many speculated that he still will.

All speculation was cast aside when he launched The Domino Project, with Poke The Box being his first release. So, I went over to Amazon, ordered a copy, waited 3 weeks. . . . . . And voila! The 84-page little book, with a running man arrived.

Seth Godin cuts through all assumptions and challenges you right from the start. Much like he did in Linchpin, he tempts you out of comfort, he calls you out, he asks you to take a stand. No contents pages, no forewords, no introductions, he just gets right into it.

In all of four sittings, each less than an hour – with coffee breaks – I was done.

“The job isn’t to catch up to the status quo; 
 the job is to invent the status quo.” 

When you read those opening lines, you know it’s you. Or not. If it isn’t, don’t bother reading further. This post is not for you. Check back next time.

Poke The Box – is a book about:

  • Doing!
  • Doing what you love
  • Questioning the status quo
  • Starting things
  • Starting everyday
  • Failing!
  • Failing often
  • Making a connection
  • Finishing what you started
  • Shipping
  • Shipping often
  • Repeat!

In 84 pages, Poke The Box takes you through a journey of changing things. A journey of getting to ‘Yes!’. Of facing fear. Of living without the fear of starting. You realize when you’ve done enough and you need to take your ideas out to market.

Now go!

Go start!

Start new things. Start every day. Ship your ideas. Repeat!

The Art Of The Start : Lessons from Guy Kawasaki

 

After reading most books, I would review them. That is, comfortably write about what I got, yet The Art Of The Start was different. It goes in depth about starting an organization (whether for profit not), and running it successfully. If you are running a successful organization, then it’s a book you wish you read before starting – and a hardback you want to own.

Guy Kawasaki had me gripped in his introduction, where he wrote:

“When telescopes work, everyone is an astronomer, and the world is full of stars. When they don’t, everyone whips out their microscopes, and the world is full of flaws.”

Granted! We all start organizations to cause – some much needed – change in the world. More important than change, if you take away one thing from this post – it should be go out there and make meaning. Guy warns entrepreneurs against “being solutions looking for problems”, which most experts won’t tell you.

Carve a niche

An entrepreneurial organization that serves, and targets everyone, is a solution looking for a problem. A well defined business model quickly resolves this issue and helps you cut your losses. Here are Guy Kawasaki’s guides to defining a business model:

  • Who has your money in their pockets?
  • How are you going to get it into your pockets?

Tips to develop your business model

  1. Be specific – Know who your customer is, serve them and grow outwardly.
  2. Keep it simple – Narrow your business model down to ten words.
  3. Copy somebody – Many people have innovated business models, you can copy what exists and innovate in technology, markets or customers.

Have you ever had a great idea, one you knew that was sure to be the proverbial cash cow, but you never acted on it?

Well….ideas by themselves are worthless and Guy Kawasaki advises that you create a prototype to end the uncertainty and get it to market immediately. Most of us want to perfect our offer, as though that is the final version of the product, when our customers will need us perfect and change it.

The Art Of Bootstrapping

Having read (and lived by) Seth Godin’s, Bootstrapper’s Bible and being eager to reach Guy Kawasaki’s chapter about it. It seemed to take me too long.

I admit, the possibility of raising capital, building an organization that quickly gets acquired by a conglomerate and “living happily after”, crossed my mind. Sadly, happily afters are great before bedtime and 8pm romance thrillers.

From being an Evangelist at Apple in the 1980s, to starting Garage Venturesa venture capital firm. Guy Kawasaki himself emphasizes how the odds of raising capital are slim to non-existent.

In the beginning stages of this chapter he states that “entrepreneurs can bootstrap any business model”, because bootstrapping is managing for cash flow. And when done correctly, it will be a stage in the life of your business.

Here are some excerpts to note about bootstrapping:

  • Build A Bottom Up Forecast – Know the minimum achievable goal, then build your cash and sales forecast from there.
  • Ship, Then Test – Get your product to market immediately, fix problems that may arise, ship again and alter product till you’ve perfected it.
  • Forget The Proven Team – Forget about hiring well-known industry veterans. Build a case for your team.
  • Start As A Service Business – You can making cash immediately and pay for further research and development.
  • Focus On Function, Not Form – When selecting service providers, pick them based on your needs – not their size.
  • Pick Your Battles – Make money from you magic, not things anyone else can do.
  • Go Direct – The more middlemen there are between you (the seller) and your customer, the longer it takes to know what to fix.
  • Position Against The Leader – Your competition has done you a huge favour by establishing themselves ahead of you. Use known equivalents to describe what you do.
  • Take The Red Pill – As in The Matrix, rid yourself of fantasy and face reality.
  • Get A Morpheus – As in The Matrix again, this is the person who sees to it that you achieve your objectives and is realistic.
  • Understaff and Outsource – Run with a lean team, it’s better than laying off people you didn’t need in the first place. Outsource everything else.
  • Build A Board – Not only for funded businesses, it helps with evangelism and maintaining innovativeness.
  • Sweat The Big Stuff – Looking big and fancy are less significant than developing your product, selling and getting paid. Focus on what matters

As you can tell, bootstrapping is one of the lessons I had to learn again. It keeps you on course and definitely differentiates you from everyone else. That, like romance thrillers, leads to a happily after.

This chapter, which also quotes Seth Godin, drives home the idea of making meaning and strengthening your business model.

These, as said earlier, are just some of the highlights and lessons I had to learn. You’ll be seeing a lot of quotes from The Art Of The Start, going forward. It spoke to areas in my startup that need perfecting and improving and testing. Other things that also ring true from the book are the Art Of Pitching and the Art Of Selling.

What is the most significant lesson you’ve learnt in business, lately? Care to share?

Let us know what you’ve read as well. If you’d like to share it, you could write a guest review.

Gifts, book reviews and Linchpin give-away

It seems 2010 brought with it a downpour of work and little distractions that just keep me away from writing. But there will be more reading this winter.

If you have been here before, you would know I had an interview with Seth Godin about his book Linchpin. (If you haven’t – you just might score yourself a free copy. I’m glad you stopped by).

Linchpin is a book about gifts, and art and adding value and being indispensable. If you thought that couldn’t be done where you are right now – in your job or business. This gem blasts that misconception along with the lizard brain that propagates it. Seth describes the ‘lizard brain’ as that part of our minds which holds us back from making real progress. It strikes a balance between being an entrepreneur and a change agent where you currently work.

Lost marbles

By now you are probably thinking I’ve lost my marbles, books that accomplish such balance are watered down and don’t really speak to the one or other person. But it does, in a way that on only Seth Godin can. And I will have you know that my marbles are still intact. Thanks for the concern.

Monthly read

The idea is to share and recommend our latest reads, while giving one book away every month. Yes, you stand a chance to get yourself a copy of Linchpin, because that is what I’m reading at the moment. Leave some ideas in the comments and the best one gets the book. It’s really that easy! We’ll keep expanding on the ideas and probably make it more intricate with your contribution, but that’s not intention.

Terms and conditions don’t apply, but there’s just one small thing

As you might have guessed it, there is one thing that could be a potential challenge. Because this is a self-funded project, I’d like to try keep it as cost effective as possible. So for now, the give-aways will be to our South African readers and we can spread it globally at a later stage.

Why should you get it?

Leave some ideas in the comments and if yours is the best to spread this project to most people, you get the book sent to you.