This week we're talking sanity strategies for entrepreneurs this holiday season, and we have a special guest joining us, Frank Cianciulli, entrepreneur and founder of the Wish Group of companies.
Also, check out our other companion blogs for more holidays tips and strategies:
Be sure to ask the Bees any questions you might have about what they do to stay sane under pressure and work around roadblocks.
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Being a Self-Made Entrepreneur Through Bootstrapping
You might be asking, what exactly is bootstrapping? Simply put, it's when an entrepreneur starts a business and markets it with limited resources and no outside investors.
There are many advantages to this type of approach, including:
- Low cost of entry.
- You make all the decisions.
- Focus on building the business rather than seeking out funding.
Of course, it's always a good idea to look at both sides of the coin. There are still pros and cons. Some disadvantages to bootstrapping include:
- A lack of capital (limited cash flow).
- The risk of failure can be high.
- Personal stress.
We're living in an age of startups, where we see constant growth and innovation in so many verticals that it seems like opportunities are popping up everywhere.
Launching a startup is a big challenge, but we've never had so many tools and resources available to help alleviate the struggle.
If you'd like to learn more about bootstrapping and entrepreneurs' strategies, check out these great articles:
Or check out Frank Cianciulli's Bootstrap Series on YouTube for tons of amazing insights from a seasoned entrepreneur.
The Pivots Businesses Adopted to Keep Their Doors Open to the Public
It's truly amazing what some businesses have achieved in the past few months. The new normal is a phrase that gets kicked around a lot lately because our lives have been disrupted on a scale that we've never experienced before.
We recently heard that nearly 60% of all restaurants in Canada will close down permanently by 2021, and we've already lost so many local long-time businesses. It's hard to imagine a world without them.
However, some businesses have been much luckier and have had the opportunity to be innovative and find ways to reinvent themselves.
Here in Waterloo Region, we've had no shortage of successful pivots that have helped shine a light and create a path for others to follow.
Check out these 3 blogs we wrote in the early months of the pandemic, where we offer tips and strategies for entrepreneurs on how to pivot, and share examples of some amazing success stories:
#1 Keeping the Team United and Productive While Working From Home
Working from home has become the new normal for 2020, and it's turned company culture on its head.
For some, the transition was relatively seamless, and for others, it's been a whirlwind of chaos and adjustment. It's not always easy to have your work routine disrupted so drastically, so it takes some planning and consideration to keep yourself and your team productive.
Here at Honeypot, we start every day with a team video meeting on Slack to go over our daily tasks; this helps keep the entire team in the loop and fosters that feeling of togetherness, and that can be invaluable.
Here are some strategies for entrepreneurs you can do to make working from home successful and productive:
- Keep people updated - Our motto is to over-communicate. Make an effort to stay in regular contact with your team throughout the day, and provide as many updates as possible.
- Ensure everyone is on video - Audio chats are good, but a face-to-face connection will help the team feel less isolated.
- Have a good remote work set up - You want to lead by example and help your team set up a workspace they can be comfortable in and still productive.
- Don't micromanage - This will make the team feel like you don't trust them. You want to encourage transparency and open communication.
- Encourage social interactions - Being separated makes it harder to socialize during downtimes and breaks, and can affect team morale. Keep a channel open for casual chats and sharing memes and jokes throughout the day.
- Ask for feedback from your team about how they're feeling - Stress and uncertainty are common right now, and when emotions get high, it's easy to lose sight of your goals and let productivity fall to the wayside. Talk it out, friends. It helps.
- Recognize a job well done - Encouragement and recognition go a long way and truly help motivate your team when they know their efforts will be acknowledged.
Here are a couple of articles that dig deeper into some great remote work tips:
#2 How Have These Trying Times Impacted the Way Business is Conducted?
We like to believe that there's always something you can do to improve your prospects. After all, if you can't think positively, how will you ever get positive results?
Tightening your belt has become a necessity for many of us, and businesses are trying to stay afloat while a good part of the world is shut down.
Speaking of strategies for entrepreneurs, you might want to consider tightening your inventory and cutting operational costs where you can, depending on your specific situation.
Can we look at these times as an opportunity to strengthen our teams? As an entrepreneur, how has this affected the approach to startups and conducting business? As a leader, how has this changed the way we direct and train our teams?
A typical response in trying times is to look to authority figures to create and provide direction.
So what can leaders and business owners do to help others and avoid having to close their doors? Modernize – go digital, be flexible, be ready for change, take extensive measures to manage costs - to name a few ideas.
Let's take a look at a few key tips by Harvard Business Review:
- Update intelligence daily.
- Beware of hype cycles/news cycles.
- Don’t assume that information creates informedness.
- Use experts and forecasts carefully.
- Always reframe your understanding of what’s happening.
You can also check out the link above for a full breakdown of all 12 great tips with a more thorough analysis of each one.
#3 Many Businesses Feel Like They've Hit a Wall and Are Lacking Motivation
We’re in a time when people’s cash flow has been limited by these unprecedented events, leaving businesses feeling limited from having a successful holiday season.
This absence of hope or any definite end in sight causes high amounts of anxiety and fear. Many people find it challenging to remain motivated and productive and don't know what to do.
You need a wartime mentality to get your business through a downturn.
When you get to the point where you feel like you've hit a wall, sometimes the best thing to do is stop. Stop, and check the map. Assess where you're at, where you want to be, and how you can get there.
Here are some strategies for entrepreneurs to work past the wall and start moving forward again:
- Break things down into manageable pieces.
- Share your responsibilities with your most trusted team members.
- Look back to when you started and why you started to reinvigorate your passion.
- Set new goals. Reassess your situation and set realistic, achievable goals that align with your current circumstances.
- Learn a new skill.
- Don't be hard on yourself.
When you feel like you're tapped dry and can't manage, remember that you can do more with less. Get into that bootstrapping mentality. When you first started, it was a struggle, and you put in the work, had the hustle to get past the hard times. You can do it again, friend.
#4 Working From Home. What Can You Do to Make Sure You Take Care of Yourself and Keep a Work-Life Balance?
Keeping a positive attitude depends on the routine. If you're flying off the seat of your pants, you're going to feel like you're in a constant state of anxiety and uncertainty.
When working out a routine, here are 4 good rules to keep in mind:
- Remember to take breaks.
- Practice self-care.
- Keep your work life and personal life separate (as much as possible).
- Don't cave in to peer pressure.
It's been standard advice these past few months to fill your time with productive activities, and do as much as you can to keep busy; this might work for some, but no solution works for everyone.
It's a good idea to keep yourself busy and active, find creative outlets, find someone to talk to - but that doesn't mean you have to fill every waking hour with highly productive activities.
Sometimes you need to stop and take a break, take in the silence of a peaceful moment. Stop and smell the roses, right?
One of the easiest and most effective things you can do is to create a comfortable environment. Giving your workspace a makeover can do wonders and helps get your motivation back.
It's also a good idea to get dressed every day. That's something I never thought I'd have to say, but here we are. It's been a running joke that we haven't had to put on pants for the past 6 months. It's true. We don't have to - but we should.
#5 The Market Gets Competitive During This Time of Year: What Can Business Owners Do to Make an Impact When the Competition is Fierce?
Find a way to distinguish yourself from others when the market is tough. Easy enough to say, right? Not so easy to execute.
Think about what differentiates you from your competition. Are you doing something better? Or offering something others are not?
Don't try to compete with the big dogs, but stick close to your size and scope. Find a comfortable middle ground where you can stand out.
There are tons of strategies for entrepreneurs you can employ to distinguish your business from your competitors, such as:
- Finding a niche market through creative storytelling.
- Offer more affordable, competitive pricing.
- Providing stellar customer service.
- Focus on solving your customer's pain points.
If you'd like to read further on these specific points, check out this article: 5 Effective Ways to Beat Your Competition
Another great way to make an impact is through social media. Many businesses are still not entirely using these channels, or haven't figured out how to use them effectively, so it's an excellent opportunity to do something different; and a perfect way to directly connect with your customers and encourage engagement with your brand.
Social media is where all the conversations are happening right now. If you're not there, too, it's unlikely that you'll be noticed by many, so get on it.
You could also consider joining forces with your competitors for some friendly collaboration; this can significantly increase all parties' reach by tapping into each respective audience. Joint ventures have proven repeatedly that they can be enormously successful, so get out there and make some new friends.
To stand out in a crowded marketplace, you need every advantage you can get. Whether it's creating a strong brand identity, having a clearly defined Unique Selling Proposition (USP), optimizing your website and social channels for SEO and the people visiting your channels, or understanding who your customers are and what they want - you need to have a solid plan of action or you risk being buried in the noise.
And that's a wrap. If you're still hungry for knowledge and want to learn more strategies for entrepreneurs, check these awesome resources out: