Monday, March 31, 2014

7 Disciplines of Successful Entrepreneurs in Advertising Specialty Products

Entrepreneurs commonly dismiss discipline as tool to success

Notice that the use of the word entrepreneur is carefully chose here.  Not business owner.  I see owners as divided into three distinct categories of business owners. 
  1. Merchants - These are folks who have a gut for what the market wants, where to buy those things, and how to display them online, in catalogs, or in the shop.  For the promo products business, this person gravitates to the product side of the business, and just has a knack for seeing the best items to create great promotions
  2. Managers - Often this type of owner is second generation or bought the business.  They may have started it, but this is not likely.  They know the numbers, how to hire and motivate, and always have plenty of money to get the job done as planned.  
  3. Entrepreneurs - They started this business and probably several others.  They are flighty, energy machines, that can't sit still.  They have a million ideas worth $1, and one of them will be worth millions.  Even the million dollar idea will eventually bore them, and they will be starting something new.  
Merchants and managers usually exhibit discipline, although merchants may only have discipline in the area they love, product.  It is wise for these types to have a partner who can handle either money or people or both.  Managers are wise to have a partner with selling skills.

Entrepreneurs cannot be managed unless you like putting a leash on a cat.  So, if you are one of those, what types of disciplines might help you to actually get to something called success?

First - Define what success means to you.  It may be about money, but likely the money is only a marker.  You're too busy creating to have time to spend.  It is more likely something less tangible which makes it all the more critical to have a bit of self awareness and try to write it down.  Keep in mind that it is okay to change these evidences of success in the future.

Second - Line up your partners. Take the time to carefully select the talent you will need to fill in the places you'll never get to.  This includes a spouse who gets you, and will put up with a bankruptcy, and maybe a huge emotional crash or two.  For sure it includes a financial person who may also be a business manager.  They must be really tough with a thick skin.  Tell them in advance that you will likely run roughshod over their advice at times, but you still want that advice. 

Third - Stay with a new company, product, or division for at least a year after you are bored.  The new product can wait for a year.  Use this year to find a product champion who can take over and manage the future of your great idea. 

Fourth - Rest, recreate, and vacation.  Everyone knows you are capable of working 16 hour days and 31 day months.  But your ideas will stop when you do that.  When you aren't working, turn it off completely.  No phone calls, emails, texts, social media, etc. 

Fifth - Family must get time and attention. If your business is successful or if it fails, your family is going to be with whom you share the fruits or mourn the difficulties.  I have seen many divorces (and experienced one) among entrepreneurs.  They are the most devastated of any group.  On the other hand I know of many who have been disciplined enough to be home, both physically and emotionally, at night, on weekends, and for vacations.  These are the business owners who gain real success.

Sixth - Decide early what you need for income, and nest egg.  Give the rest away.  That's right.  Is $250,000 per year enough.  $500,000.  You pick the number.  Then don't get caught in the trap of more is better.  Find a comfortable standard of living that makes you and the family happy.  Then give the excess away. 

Seventh - Give back.  More than money, you have ideas, energy, experience, and enthusiasm to help civic and charitable organizations to thrive.  Be disciplined in sharing all of those with worthwhile efforts in the community. 

Do you have other items for this list?  Add them to the comments.  Do you see more than the three types of business owners in my introduction?  Give us your thoughts. 

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