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The Single Dumbest Thing a Start-Up Entrepreneur Can Say

competitionThere’s one thing start-up entrepreneurs should never think. If you find yourself thinking it, think again. And, whatever you do, don’t ever say it to a potential funder.

Yet a lot of new entrepreneurs do think this. Worse yet, they say it out loud.

“Who’s your competition,” the prospective investor inevitably asks.
The entrepreneur exclaims, “That’s the best part – we don’t have any. This idea is so original; no one else in the whole world is doing it!”

Credibility destroyed. At best, it means they don’t understand their business. At worst, it means they haven’t done their homework.

In either case, they won’t get the money they need. So here are three things to understand about competition for your start-up:

Your customer could do something else
You may have the only newfangled whiz-bang store in town. But your future customers have been getting by with a substitute for quite a while now.

It may not be ideal, but they will have to make a change to buy your product. Most people resist change. How will you entice them to do so?

Your number one competitor may be your customer
If your new business is a service, can the customer do it themselves? If so, your customers may be your top competitors. This is true of both the consumer market and the business market.

They can probably do it themselves for less than you can do it for them, at least in the short run. What makes your service so special that they should pay you more? Or can you prove that you are less expensive in the long run?

No competition is probably a bad thing
This is another miscalculation in thinking. In almost all cases – if no one is doing what you’re thinking about doing – it probably means you shouldn’t do it either.

It may mean that the market isn’t large enough or receptive enough. If it’s the latter and you really have no competition, how much money will it take to educate the market?

If you had a competitor, you could share the cost. But you don’t. So you will have to do it all alone. It’s an incredibly expensive task for a fledgling start-up.

If you’re in the midst of planning your start-up, study your business so you can talk intelligently about your competition. It will get you one step closer to the funding you need.

Image in ttoday’s post from lusi

Relationships and the Dog Eat Dog World

dog_daysThis is the third installment of our five-part Dog Days series. Today we want to talk about relationships. There’s that old saying, “It’s a dog eat dog world.

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It reminds us of this exchange on Cheers:

Woody: "How's it going Mr. Peterson?"
Norm: "It's a dog eat dog world, Woody, and I'm wearing Milk Bone underwear.”

Dog eat dog is a zero-sum mindset. In order for you to win, the other party has to lose. There may have been times when this mindset worked. If you were in a large city or you sold nationally or worldwide, you may have been able to get away with it.

But the world is getting smaller and smaller.

Man’s best friend

Thanks to the internet, more people are connected with more people. Reputations can be built or destroyed pretty quickly. So it really pays to think win – win.

Be man’s best friend. Build loyalty by being trustworthy. Win friends by being loveable.

Those attitudes win alliances today. Your network is the single biggest asset you can have. The value of your network is the sum total of the value of each and every relationship in it.

Call the dogs off

You build value in relationships by giving. So call the dogs off.

You’re seeing this so much now as more and more people start using new tools like Twitter. They follow you; you follow them back. Then you’re immediately greeted with an auto-generated sales pitch.

As we’ve said before, the problem is they’re not seeing people. They only see dollar signs, but the dollars don’t materialize because people are turned off by the initial communication.

Of course, you can be too laid back in your networking efforts. You have to think highly enough of yourself, and what you do, to promote yourself. If you don’t, why should anyone else promote you?

Find the balance between too passive and too aggressive.

“His bark is worse than his bite”

We’ve all probably heard these famous words uttered by a dog owner. Perhaps you’ve said them yourself.

Is it a problem if we as humans exhibit this behavior as well?

Of course it is! Because we lose credibility if that’s the case.

When you choose to elevate a discussion, you have to be ready to back up your words with actions.

Barking and biting can be tools if they are used carefully. If they aren’t, they’ll come back to bite you (pun intended)!

If you never bark or bite, people may think they can steamroll right over you. On the other hand, you can use these tools too much. Then people avoid you or just brush off the dialog without really listening. They also lose respect for you.

So it’s okay to bark, if you bark occasionally. When you do it occasionally, it makes the communication stand out.

And it’s okay to bite … if you rarely do it. Sometimes you have to confront an aggressor head on. It puts teeth into your words.

Relationships. It’s hard to fully quantify them. They don’t show up on your Balance Sheet. But nonetheless, they are the single biggest asset you have. So build relationships for your bigg success!

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Thank you so much for reading our post today.

Occasionally, no matter how hard you try, you find yourself in the dog house. Please join us next time when we’ll talk about how to get out. Until then, here’s to your bigg success!

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(Image in today's post by mioawee)

Is Your Status Costing You Money?

balance We all experience trade-offs. One of the most significant ones is time and money. If we have money, we can use it to buy services that give us more time. Another trade-off is status and money.

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Status at work

We may ask our boss for more money, but he or she tells us that it’s not in the budget. So instead, we’re offered a title – it gives us more credibility but it doesn’t line our coffers.

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marylynn When I was starting out in my radio career, I helped out quite a bit in the production department putting together commercials. I eventually became the go-to person when the production director wasn’t available. When I asked for more money, I was told it wasn’t in the budget but they gave me the title of Assistant Production Director. This helped me negotiate for a higher salary when I left for a different market.

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So sometimes the title can lead to more money. If that’s the case, great! But we need to go into it with eyes wide open because status without money usually doesn’t do us much good in the short- or long-run. We may have to work more hours because of our new title. We may be held more responsible. So we have to weigh the benefits.

Bringing it home

We also often fall into the status trap personally. We buy things, such as cars or houses that we don’t really need or want. We do it to keep up with our friends and neighbors.

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georgeTwo of my friends are best friends. They don’t do this anymore but, when they were first starting out, it was almost comical to watch them compete with each other. One bought a new car; within a month or so the other got a new car. One of them bought a new house; the next thing you knew the other one had his house on the market and was buying a new one. One got married; soon the other was engaged. One had a kid; soon the other one was an expectant father!

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The point is to recognize when you’re about to do something solely to increase your status. It may hurt you financially! Which means, in the long run, you’ll have less status than you would like.

It’s funny … what often keeps us from getting rich is acting like we’re rich before we are rich!

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Next time, we’ll discuss one more thing to add to your schedule to keep you on schedule. Until then, here’s to your bigg success!

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(Image by Jayded74)