Why to choose for entrepreneurship?

For a long time you have had such a dormant feeling to start something for yourself. Or maybe you already have a concrete idea for a great product you want to sell. And then there is a chance to realize your dreams or ideas and decide to become an entrepreneur. So what are the considerations to take that big step to become an entrepreneur?

THE ADVANTAGES AND DISASVANTAGES
Freedom. Well that freedom is quite tempting. You can determine relatively much yourself. You’re on an hour later, sorry but I don’t have any inspiration now so I’ll do it soon, and yes that Netflix series is really fascinating. Does this not seem to procrastinate, than real freedom? In the end, you really have to earn your own income instead of a salary which “just” comes in every end of the month.

Status: You see the beautiful examples of successful entrepreneurs and think, I want that too! For example, Richard Branson has a private airplane, an own island and he travels a lot. However, what you don’t see is that these successful entrepreneurs have gone a long way and have had to work very hard to reach this high level. So yes, the outside with all the beautiful stuff and parties etc. are not just blowing. Sorry….

Is making money your goal? There are entrepreneurs who simply earn a lot of money, but also (most of them) who have to do less. And, according to research, the entrepreneurs who want to make their business a success by setting long-term goals are more successful than the entrepreneurs who are only motivated to earn a lot of money.

TO KNOW
According to research, only 56% of the starters make a real conscious choice to become an entrepreneur. The remaining 54% are actually just a bit rolled in, by chance or circumstances. Which group are you?

ENTREPRENEURS ARE ONLY HUMAN
You know, entrepreneurs are also just people. All different characters and full of ambitions. Good to see nowadays is that more and more entrepreneurs are not only going to go for commercial gain (49%), but want to contribute to society as a matter of fact. Making an Impact on your business, contributing to the people around you, so as to build a meaningful future. That is really what I am concerned about.

A good example of this is Tony Chocolony: The delicious chocolate products are in funny coloured packaging with original texts. These chocolate bars have become the means to spread a social message to help others. It is no longer just about the product and the price. It is the meaning you give to it, the message counts.

WHY DO I WANT THIS?
So great that you want to become an entrepreneur. But why do you want this exactly? Ask yourself the following questions:

  • What problem are you going to solve: what is the added value of what you want to offer
  • For whom are you doing this: Is this for yourself, do you see a market question, or because you want to help people?
  • Doing business is not an individual job, just ask who can help you. So: Who has the knowledge or means to bring you progress.
  • Do you have the skills to do this and what are you missing so you can learn it?

Happiness = Success?

If I talk with clients, relations or whoever, and ask the question:

what comes first for you? happiness or success….

people react differently to this question. You see their faces change, but nevertheless answer it right away. Others look at you, as this is a very logical and natural thing. At least for them…

Basically there are two answers possible:

1.            Succes is a pre-requisite to be happy

2.            First you have to be happy and then you will be able to be successful

The funny think is that when people think about this for a moment, they start asking some questions. What do you mean Hans, and how do you define success and happiness?

And hey, this is my first small victory. To make people think about these kind of topics, to define these two topics and what does this mean to you. It’s not about the outside world and all glamourous opinions, but about what is your own drive, yes YOURS!

I ask this question about success and happiness to a lot of different people. However in the context of my profession as Business Coach, and for the purpose of this Happy Business You research, mostly ask it entrepreneurs. Because it looks like entrepreneurs are humans as well…

Especially during the last year I notice that the rational and business technical solutions are not the holy grail in business-land anymore. The “soft” side, or the human approach, is getting more and more attention these days. Which is for some old school entrepreneurs and managers hard to digest, but I see this as challenge to give them some form of a reality check.

Perhaps it will not be as black and white, as if you have to choose sides, but it surprised me that no one ever researched the correlation between success and happiness with entrepreneurs. Also what the factors are that influences these topics . So this is when I decided to start my own research. The Happy Business You research.

If you are interested in the outcome or want to discuss this with me , please contact me for a talk.

Happy Business!

 

It’s time to change

I’m used to start my blog articles describing the past to demonstrate how it all started. To picture the actual situation and in the end presenting a possible scenario. But this “time thing” is bothering me for some time now, so it’s time to write about it.

Many people know about the rapid development of technology and how it influences our world. Our life’s are speeding up, time is money in our work, you only live once, etc. But we all know this, right? So why not look at it from a different perspective. Let’s start with a statement to see if you are critical and awake…

We should skip the time addiction. Eliminate this out of our lives. Time is a tool of our (past) production era, and not applicable anymore if we want to be happy in the present.

Everything we do every day in our (modern) society is based on the clock, and the duration of our efforts. We set our alarm to wake up, and do not awaken by a beautiful rising sun, the annoying rooster, or the biological rhythm of our body. We go to work by train, which is departing at 7:30 precisely. If you’re 30 seconds late you might have a problem. When you finally arrive at work your boss is waiting for you and would like to spank you, because you took 5 minutes from his time of production. And so on, you get the picture right? So there is no natural and authentic behavior anymore. We are driven by a mechanism which is invented in a past century. For a rational reason which has nothing to do with (y)our well-being, but with someone else’s benefits.

Please consider the high speed of technological developments which is taking place right now. The effect of all technical developments is with such great impact and intensity, we sometimes forget to realize the huge effects in our society, and in the end, on our own personal lives.

Under influence of these technical developments, some systems are developing more rapidly than others. With systems I mean the political system, the economic system, the cultural system etc. Some systems are old fashioned, and others have adapted to the new now. For example most political systems are founded in the 19th century or even older, where no real structural changes has been made since then, except the introduction of an electronic voting system perhaps. Another system example is the medical sector. Where DNA sequencing (analyzing and visualizing of DNA) is now so cheap it’s available to a large audience. This results in a shift towards preventive medical care instead of treating diseases afterwards. Do you see the various paces of the different systems in time?

The world wide web including all social media etc. is a system on itself. The number of participants in this (social?) system is so incredibly high, where all voices are heard and so much choices available. You could say it’s a new kind of “democracy” And do you realize that if Facebook were a country, it would be the biggest country in the world!

So where does this all leads us? If some systems don’t keep up with all technical developments their existence will be questioned. Timing is important but not the clock itself. The demand for more natural living will increase. We will decide how we live based on external information. This coming from your internet usage, and that of your neighbors, your co-workers and friends wherever they are on this planet. It will result in a power shift of systems. Where the (end?) control is done by artificial intelligence based on big data. We live in a parallel universe, soon. But time is on our side…

 

What do you know?

In the early days it was about WHAT you know. Meaning, which facts and figures have you learnt and do you know by heart. You remember the adagio “knowledge is power” ? Now the internet gives you the possibility to find all kind of information anytime you want. This kind of static knowing has become sort of obsolete. Learning at school the history, geography etc. is well…. old school.

Now we have this great amount of data available it matters more and more HOW we use all this (found) facts. We are now learning skills how we can use data and transform this into rich information. By playing with data, open it up and interact with third parties. One of the trends is the “doing by learning” practice. Where you use data to test, review and improve in a continuous cycle. Examples are new methodologies like serious gaming, lean design, visualization, design thinking, etc. Is this playing-time for adults?

But the question I ask myself, and ask you as well, what will be the next phase or step in this information usage? I would like to suggest it will be the IF question. Seen we will have all this data at hand and play around with this information, it will become more the question IF we are able to make the right decisions with it. Are we using this information to make responsible decisions which have a positive impact on our lives.

How much information or data can we staple or bundle (quantative) in order to get the right outcome? We should be mindful about using information the right way. A more qualitative approach by placing it in a context of wisdom. So my suggestion would be to (more) educated with life skills like philosophy, psychology, art and meditation. Starting at school and continuing beyond….   Technically interpreting data for commercial purpose only is old school. Using information which is right for the human wellbeing should be the standard.

Quality Time…at work

When you think about quality time, probably you think of the precious time spent with your family or closest friends. The time you intensely enjoy with your dearest. It re-connects and gives you energy. But sadly enough this happens too little, and mostly during (planned) vacations or short trips.

But what if we transfer the concept of quality time into your work? And I don’t mean to have quality time with your colleagues (could be fun though…) but spending quality time how you work.

Quality over Quantity

What if you give your working day more quality time instead of quantity time. Meaning choosing activities based on what brings real value. Value regarding the outcome for your work but also to yourself.

Lot of books are written about efficiency, timetables and ROI and so forth. Which is actually a rational approach based on the old production theory, only counting numbers (A.K.A. Spreadsheet Management) What if you plan and choose your activities based on your ambition for that day. Decide which tasks belong to achieve this daily ambition, and enjoy it fully.

How to do this:

  • Prepare your day, with outlook/mail and other production programs, closed. Sit down an decide what end-goal you would like to accomplish that day. For your work and for yourself. This is your daily ambition.
  • Write down what you really need to do, your must do tasks, to accomplish your daily ambition. Including a list of people you definitely need to contact for your ambition.
  • Open your computer and start to work on your must do list.
  • When you accomplished one third of your must do list, open your inbox for max 30 minutes to reply to e-mails and other requests. Close your mail program and other non necessary programs.
  • Take a break and refocus on your must do list, and start continue working on this.
  • Repeat…

Basically it’s about opening your mail program only when it serves your purpose and not others. Make it a habit to open your mail program only in the morning, midday and day ending. Don’t be a slave of your computer or mail program. You are in control!

Put your personal values in to your work by giving it your full attention it deserves. Give your energy to your daily ambition. This will re-connect your drives and give satisfaction to yourself and in the end also to your stakeholders ;–)

Faith – Hope – Love

Trade Necessity

A long time ago when new transportation techniques emerged, it created new jobs like the traveling merchant and local trader. Where you could buy new and different products from other places then your own. There was a natural balance between the buyer and seller because goods or services were exchanged based on necessity.

Business is the new standard

Trade or starting a business has evolved during the last centuries into a “serious” profession. Where all kinds of new business developments were invented like new production techniques, price calculations, ratio’s, KPI’s, and something called “efficiency” Here scarcity was the basis of trade.

Fair Trade

Slowly our view of doing business changed from efficiency towards effect. Where transparency opened our eyes and changed public opinion. This in a sense that trade was not always equal for all parties. Where business ethics became an important factor; doing good for society, giving back to the producers, sustainable business for a clean environment etc. Where the rational efficiency on short term is not leading anymore, but the soft factors and the longer term, are the new metrics.

Business as the new religion

The new entrepreneurs are getting younger and business is initiated by all kinds of people on all levels. New enterprises arise in so many different countries and even in remote locations. Where money is not an issue anymore thanks to Crowdfunding and Microcredit. Entrepreneurship is a commodity. Or is it more?

Entrepreneurship seems to be the new religion. The save haven for a meaningful live and freedom of choice. Where business models are replaced with the new mantra of Faith, Hope and Love. Where business people live accordingly to this mantra:
– Faith: I believe in myself and in my company
– I Hope; that others will like me and my offerings
– I Love; what I do with my endeavour

If you use these three spiritual factors you will achieve your place in the kingdom to come. Soul searching is the standard.

Location, Location, Location

The first location

We lived and worked where the food was available by nature. Where your family and beloved ones belonged to a close(d) community. You only moved somewhere else if there was a real and functional need to leave. Communications was easy as your living and working space was in the same area. We traveled short distances and communicated face to face and talked to each other(!)

Moving around

With the rise of new techniques in transportation and communications, we were able to move around more easily. The decision to move somewhere else was taken more lightly. Going to places we “liked” or seemed interesting because someone else you didn’t know, said so in his recommendations or referrals.

Blend in

Now there seems to be a blend of work and life. Where the strict distinction between those two do not exist anymore. You work because you feel good about what you do, or chose to be an entrepreneur out of passion to help others. Where the location you will be active does not matter anymore because the technical means give you the opportunity to transport information to the other side of the world within seconds, where goods are delivered the same or next day. Where you talk with strange people who are like minded.

Existence

The next phase could be moving around in a virtual world. Where transportation of information is nonexistent anymore as it’s all in a big cloud. Where you experience travel in a augmented and virtual world. Where you see each other as a holographic projection. Where you have build in earbuds and mics in your body. Giving your computers commands by gestures, or touch sensors that are built in your clothes  instead of old fashion typing.

So are we going back to the situation as we started? Living in tribes, exchanging goods instead of paying for it, only use natural materials and eating healthy biological food. Helping your neighbors and do good. Where do you (really) belong?

the Qualified Self

Since a few years its possible to measure all kind of data about your health with your mobile Phone or a fitness band around your wrist. So you know how many steps you have taken, how many stairs, measuring your sleep cycle, calories burnt etc. So your little computer is telling you if you are healthy by reaching a certain amount of numbers.

This quantified self is not new as it is still based on numbers and thus based on old school logic. Like measuring output numbers is the classification of your health? This principle is not a new shift, but an advancement which is made possible by new type of sensors and better software. But should we be measured by numbers?

Qualified self

The next (real) shift could be the qualified self. Where you will be measured on qualitative input instead of quantitative numbers. Like measuring your happiness level, hormones, glucose, smiling muscles, talking sound, hours of silence etc. So based on biological and behavioral “measurements” and not on output numbers. But what conclusions or recommendation’s will your app present from this?

The next self

So why not combine quantified data and qualified info? Use this input and connect this with Artificial Intelligence. This as we seem not smart enough to interpret the presented data into valuable and sensible conclusions. So this next app will tell you in the morning how you will feel that day and what you should be doing accordingly to be healthy and perform at your best.

The real self

Using all these tools could bring us far away from our core DNA as a human being. Do we need data and apps to know if we are all right, be healthy, living accordingly etc.? Do we need a tool, to know about our existence?

The other choice, (yes, it is still a choice) to skip all of this and go back to nature. To feel again, to know thyself, and feel in your guts if it’s okay. To “know” you exercised enough, you had your limit’s of alcohol. To know and feel that you are your own god.

Failure is an option!

Failure is an integrated part of our business-life. During your endeavors you might encounter problems, but does this mean you failed? When a project did not finish successfully, or a product is not selling, does this mean you totally failed as a business-person? No, it might be a major setback but it’s not the end of the world. It’s a learning point. And that’s how you should treat failure.

Failure in some cultures is seen as a life enhancer, as a needed experience to perform better in the future. For instance in the USA it’s seen as an essential part of your resume, while in my country The Netherlands, it’s not common to talk about your failures. For example when you lost your job, experienced bankruptcy or a failed project. So let me start: I failed big time with my previous company last year. I’m divorced (sort of failed project ? ) and more. But does this make me a bad person? Hell no!

So first we could change our perception about this concept of failure, and focus on the road how to improve ourselves. The deciding factor in life is how you handle setbacks and challenges. You could see it like this: “Failure is information—we label it failure, but it’s more like, “this didn’t work, and I’m a problem solver, so I’ll try something else”

So how to deal with failures? Some tips:

  1. Try to break the patterns in your life to avoid making the same mistakes twice. Start with changing your bad habits. Your changed behavior will give much more results and rewards then trying to solve external factors.
  2. Be honest to yourself and do not flea to avoid problems. Face them and solve problems if needed. Possibly with help from some friends, colleagues or hire a coach to drag you out this unwanted situation.
  3. Share your thoughts and information in whatever way you feel comfortable with
  4. Be flexible and open to learn. And yes sometimes you will be vulnerable. But what´s the worst thing that could happen? Really….
  5. Know that there’s no such thing as a truly perfect moment to move forward. So why wait for one? Taking action turns all your worry and concern about failure into positive, focused energy.
  6. We can either learn from it and move forward or let it drag us down. It’s you choice and your life!

Did you experience the dark side already and what are your lessons learned? Please let me know!

Company culture is underrated

When we talk about cultural differences we tend to think about differences in national cultures. But being involved in several projects with people from different backgrounds and sectors, I noticed that even within one country, there are some cultural hurdles to overcome. Within a country differences migth occur based on regional heritage, religion, history, local dialects and more.

But there is also the Company Culture. If we want know why some businesses are more successful than others, you might think about pragmatic or functional reasons, like a lower price or better technical specifications. But more important, a deal might be rewarded because both parties have a click. Like having the feeling this person, representing this company, will do as they promise.

And this is where the Company Culture is coming in. This is about how your organization handles things based on the norms and values in your enterprise. In more detail, it’s about the shared etiquettes, values, visions, beliefs and habits. It’s how you approach your work, your colleagues and in the end external stakeholders. You represent you company culture.

This Company Culture is formed during the history of your company by all present and new people to come in. Mostly it follows the changes during time, and is formed unintentionally. But please know you can influence this culture. By steering your company culture the outcome in business results might be higher as expected. According some studies it can improve results by 200% or more. So why not give your company culture more attention and focus?

What is the culture in your company, can you describe this?

Entrepreneurship is the ideal vehicle to develop your character

Trading, or Entrepreneurship, is actually about coming out of your comfort zone. Working in or with areas you do not know at all, or are not quite familiar with. As such you have to make decisions which have unforeseen outcomes. This involves to take some risks, but as you have to proceed with your business and thus challenge yourself by making the right choices and go for it.It requires you to push your limits. Not only from yourself but also from the people around you, and this requires character. Not being stubborn but perseverance is key. Perform your tasks as required, even if you don’t feel like it. To follow your dream.

Please share what you had to overcome in business and to what your personal qualities you had to use. Also interested to know if this has lead to personal growth and the business results you have been expecting.

Entrepreneurial success is based on your personality

Is a business person born with a different DNA, or can it be learned? Is it because some people have a different education or are born in different (better) circumstances?

I believe that an entrepreneur is not a different person as in private life. As an entrepreneur you bring all the skills and knowledge from your personal past and present, and your character. You are not a robot who can be programmed with certain techniques and thus the magic will happen. You need to recognize and develop your (business) skills, get some help to get you on the road, be, and stay inspired, and go for it!

Which personal skills do you think are most important as a business person?