Archive for February, 2013

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By Joel on February 15, 2013

Here are the 10 lessons that every entrepreneur can learn from Tony Hsieh, the CEO of “Zappos”, which is consistently voted one of the best places to work for and has a reputation for outstanding customer service.

Tony Hsieh has successfully built and sold not one, but two companies. Link Exchange sold for $265 million to Microsoft and online shoe retailer Zappos.com sold for $1.2 billion to Amazon.

Entrepreneur Lesson’s From Zappos CEO, “Tony Hsieh”

 

Lesson #1: Being Passionate Increases Your Chance Of Success

If you want to be successful then you need to find something that you are passionate about. A lot of entrepreneurs are too caught up with the money that they can make. However this can actually hinder their chances of finding success. As Tony says “business that are run by people who are passionate about whatever the business is about tend to have a much higher” When you are passionate about something you are able to work harder and inspire others to do the same. When faced with adversity you will have the passion to keep going.

Lesson #2: Understand What Really Motivates People

In Daniel Pinks best-selling book “Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us” He talks about how direct rewards such as bonuses or increased salaries can actually reduce productivity for many types of work. He also suggests that intrinsic factors such as being inspired by your work are actually much more important for motivation. Tony Hsieh illustrates this principle perfectly with his mission to create a company that you would want to work at even if you weren’t being paid to be there.

Zappos actually offers their new hires $4,000 to quit. Only about 3% have so far taken the money since the program was started. This concept was designed to weed out those who are only in it for the money and not in pursuit of a place where they can be part of a great working culture.

 

Lesson #3: Learn From Your Mistakes

Building and selling Link Exchange for $265 million might seem like the kind of mistake that any entrepreneur would be happy to make but Tony has stated he was not happy with his first company. The mistake he made was to try and build a company culture too late. With Zappos he didn’t want to make the same mistake and established the company culture at the very beginning.

Lesson #4: Focus on the Customer not the Product

Many entrepreneurs become so focused on the product or service that they are offering that they end up forgetting about their customer. Tony Hsieh wants to be known not as the best online shoe retailer but as the company with the best customer service. He has stated that he is actually not that passionate about shoes but providing the best customer service is something that inspires him.

Lesson #5: Talk To Your Employees

While we may understand that making our employees happy will increase their productivity how we achieve this can sometimes seem unclear. However Tony offers a simple prescription – “just talk to your employees. Ask them what would make them happy” Asking your employees what would make them happy and then giving it to them might sound simple but as Zappos has shown it can be incredibly effective. This includes ideas such as the laughing yoga classes, a full-time life coach and free lunches.

Lesson #6: Company Values Are Not Just Empty Slogans

Zappos has what are known as its 10 commitable core values. However these are much more than empty slogans. They guide the company in all decisions that are made on both a strategic and day-to-day level. An employees success in the company is directly related to how the live up to these core values. If they are failing to meet them then this is grounds for being fired.

 

Lesson #7: Support Your Staff

At Zappos, provided you are working according to the companies stated values then you will be fully supported. A lot of companies like to talk about integrity or customer service but fail to back their employees. A good example of this is a customer support call at Zappos that took over 7 hours. In many companies spending a whole work day over a relatively small order would be viewed as incredibly unproductive. However at Zappos this kind of customer service is celebrated.

Lesson #8: Understand What Makes You Happy

Tony Hsieh was running his own venture capital business when he initially invested in Zappos. At the time it was just one investment among many. However Tony realized within a year that what he really enjoyed in business was operating fledgling businesses not just being an investor in them.

Lesson #9: See Yourself As An Enabler

A desire to micro manage is something that many entrepreneurs find it difficult to avoid. However Tony Hsieh believes that the primary purpose of an entrepreneur is to enable people to do their best work. Tony also knows what it is like to be stifled by corporate culture. He quit his first job at Oracle after only five months. At Zappos he intended to create an environment which allows people to realize their full potential.

Lesson #10: Relationships Big or Small, Can Build Opportunity

Tony tells the story of a lesson that he learned from one of his business partners Fred Mossler. During a shoe show Mossler invited a rep for a very small brand out to dinner, rather than a rep from one of the larger brands they where introduced to. While the brand contributed almost nothing to Zappos bottom line, the relationship was something Fred Mossler truly valued. That rep would shortly there after go onto become the president of a company that Zappos had been trying to acquire. If Mossler had been concentrating on immediate gain rather than the relationship then the opportunity would have been lost.

To learn more about what Tony Hsieh is currently working on you can follow him on Twitter.

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By Joel on February 7, 2013

This is the era of the “omnipresent” entrepreneur, with more selection, more novelty, more transformations, more opportunity, and more possibilities. What’s driving the rise of the entrepreneur today?

Many are beginning to realize that they cannot depend on companies to offer the necessities life requires, in order to subsist; they must get it for themselves.

A New Breed In Times Of Need

Many factors have contributed to the need for individuals to “go it alone,” and try to make ends meet. From December 2007 and June 2009, the US experienced its largest economic collapse since the Great Depression. Named the “Great Recession,” the economic retrenchment saw GDP decrease 4% and unemployment doubled from 4.9% to 10.1%.

Now, more than ever, individuals are being encouraged and motivated to start their own businesses and become self-employed. The world has already experienced the likes of the Eastman’s, the Ford’s, the Carnegie’s and the Westinghouse’s. These entrepreneurs became successful during a time much like today; however, they created jobs; therefore, jobs were plentiful. It’s not the same today. Jobs are being created but outsourced, leaving a whole group of people behind who must now learn to play “catch-up.”

Reports show that 70% of high school students aim to become entrepreneurs at some time in their careers. Becoming an entrepreneur today is widely regarded as the best move one can make because it adds new products and jobs to the populace. Unmatched throughout history, entrepreneurs are becoming a factor in the political fixture. According to the Kauffman Foundation, entrepreneurs create 60% of all new jobs in the economy.

From Nothing to Something

Everyone likes to think of an entrepreneur as someone who came from nothing and stumbled upon millions of dollars. Yes, there are many who came from nothing, but stumbling upon millions of dollars is rare, if it actually happens at all. In addition, studies show that women entrepreneurs are on the rise. For example, Sara Blakely has shown us “the proof is in the pudding”, she has just been labelled the Youngest female self-made billionaire with her panty hose line “Spanx“.

Lisa Hufford launched Simplicity Consulting after many years as an employee, Vicky Thompson established the Valuation Management Group, and Crystal Culbertson launched Crystal Clear Technologies. These businesses have a combined annual profit of more than $50 million!

Then again, you have Steve Jobs (R.I.P), founder of Apple Computers, Bill Gates founder of Microsoft, and the new kid on the block, Mark Zuckerberg who founded Facebook. The entrepreneurship of these individuals led to a revolution of software programs that we use today. Nevertheless, miracles aside, what happens to the average person? An entrepreneur can just as well be the person who sets up their own vegetable stand or one who sells handmade tablecloths at craft shows. If you have created a business around your passion then you are an Entrepreneur.

Becoming an Entrepreneur is an Inside Job

Many people today feel something extraordinary is about to take place in the world, in fact, it is taking place right now! The days of depending solely on companies for our livelihood as our parents and grandparents once did are over. The days of finding the “perfect” job with guaranteed employment for the next 30 years is extinct. Company and employee loyalty seems to be a thing of the past. Nonetheless, becoming an entrepreneur is not an elite occupation requiring credentials to join. Anyone can become an entrepreneur; the only requirement is an idea for a business. Your idea can be:

  • Something totally new or an invention that resolves a difficulty
  • A modification of an idea started by someone or from somewhere else that does not violate any patents, trademarks, or copyrights
  • An existing concept catered to a new market
  • Creating something customary like opening a shop

What is without doubt is that having an idea is not the only requirement to become an entrepreneur. Together with their idea, an entrepreneur must draw qualities from within while utilizing outside resources. Essential qualities include willpower, zeal, ambition, keen intelligence, good timing, and momentum of execution. External necessities include finance, exploration, and support.

Entrepreneurs need to recognize their potential market, or at least have an intuitive understanding of the market they are attracted to. In addition, they will need to know if their product or service has the possibility to accommodate the demands of a commensurate number of people in order for their idea to pay off.

With Computers, Smart phones & Apps out nowadays, this means that aspiring entrepreneurs have access to millions of tools and resources at their finger tips. Which means that becoming a well equipped entrepreneur, just got easier!

Social Media networks make it easier to link and network with like-minded people and have proven to help entrepreneurs and startups raise the funds they need to juice up their business.

Checkout a great crowd funding website by the name of Kickstarter if you are looking at acquiring some funding for that new great business idea.

Conclusion

Building a business does not happen overnight. It will require all the willpower, ambition, persistence, and zeal that you can muster. You will need to believe in yourself when it seems like the odds are against you but you must also have the keen intelligence to know when to modify your plan. There is a saying “failure will never overtake you if your determination to succeed is strong enough.” Being an entrepreneur is an “inside job,” with a few outer hurdles to cross along the way.

If your mind is made-up, you will jump over those hurdles and succeed!

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