B283 – Week 7

Stew Leonard Article:
This article emphasizes the importance of keeping the customer happy. Stew interacted poorly with a customer and insinuated she was wrong but his wife advised him to learn from his own mistake and treat his customers better or he would lose customers and his business would fail. He took this to heart and developed two company rules: 1. The customer is always right and 2. If the customer isn’t right, re-read rule number 1. I think this principle can apply in many service-based companies! Pleasing those you work with is essential in growing a business.

Defining the Jet Blue Experience:
The top thing I learned from this video was how Jet Blue managed to find ways to put their money where customers would notice. They didn’t try to do it all and they certainly didn’t do what everyone else was doing. They cut costs in areas such as food, and observed challenges in the flying experience and paid a little extra to help things go smoothly. Rather than spending MORE they spent SMARTER, only allocating their funds to areas that would be profitable or would increase customer satisfaction.

BLOG: 10 Advantages and 10 Disadvantages of Young Entrepreneurs:
I chose to read a blog about young entrepreneurs. The author highlighted a few points that stood out to me that I will recap here. He mentioned that if you’re young and interested in entrepreneurship you have fewer liabilities and financial responsibilities like a home and expensive car. You’re able to spend your time more freely since you have fewer obligations. The downsides include lack of experience and “klout”. Being young, there can also be conflicts between your company and finishing school. Prioritizing and evaluating your life plan and where to allocate your resources can be overwhelming at times. Overall, just utilize your best judgement and don’t be afraid to fall back on friends and family when necessary. Follow your dreams fearlessly, but don’t lose sight of reality.

$100 Challenge:
This week I’m starting to realize two really difficult aspects of the challenge. First, I’m struggling to get to know people and make them aware of my business. Second, if I were to have customers, my schedule is very very busy and I will need to sacrifice a lot to accommodate their schedules and offer them flexible service. I am working to overcome these challenges by setting a rigorous school routine that will open up flexible options and windows of time I can offer my babysitting/mothers-assistant service. I plan to make a flier to post in my complex and hope that helps with generating new customers and spreading the word. Starting a company from scratch is difficult and I feel my resources really limit me, so I am trying to find ways to overcome that as well (limited time, no transportation, just moved here, etc.). Overall I am learning so much! Lots of challenges and sometimes I feel overwhelmed and discouraged, but I am determined to at least try my best!

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B283 – Week 6

In Praise of the Purple Cow:
“If you’re remarkable then it’s likely some people won’t like you. That’s part of the definition of remarkable. Nobody gets unanimous praise ever. The best the timid can hope for is to be unnoticed. Criticism comes to those who stand out.” -Seth Godin

I really liked this quote. I reminds me to keep continuing on with what I’m doing. Keep pioneering a way, even when I get negative feedback or hear someone speaking poorly of my decision or of my area of expertise. I am CONFIDENT there are people who are looking for what I have to offer and that is what I must cling to as I strive to market something truly remarkable. A purple cow of my very own.

Blog – The Entrepreneurial Mind
This week I watched a video that was posted to The Entrepreneurial Mind blog. It was an interview with two young entrepreneurs who had started a company to book events through the internet. It was interesting to hear how they observed a need in society and then looked for a way to address that need simply and cheaply. They have spread throughout the Southeast and have plans to expand further. I was most impressed with their flexibility and how they tried many different things to find what worked best, from changing their name to how their services functioned and how they offered their services. I think this high level of versatility is what creates success, not just having a bolt of lightning inspiration or “big idea” but little observations, experiments, and innovations all along the way.

Know Thyself and Niche Thyself – Guy Kawasaki
This video reminded me the importance of finding my own unique voice and drawing on my strengths and individual skill set to offer a one-of-a-kind product or service. The goal is to be “high and to the right” which represents a product that everyone wants and you are the only producer. Developing a niche is much like branding in marketing. Developing an idea of who you are marketing to and how others can best remember you apart from others.

$100 Challenge: Elevator Pitch
From this activity I learned how to present my ideas for my business very concisely and with effective marketing techniques. I think creating an elevator pitch for any service I offer or business I’m working for will really increase my comfort levels of being able to talk with anyone about what I do in a very short amount of time. I think people are drawn to this kind of interaction because it doesn’t cost them anything and won’t bore them due to the length. I learned what I can chop out of my elevator pitch to make it more effective and also to always offer something at the end (business card) or ask if the person is interested or knows someone who would be interested.

B283 – Week 5

Opening the Windows of Heaven
I was very touched in Elder Faust’s talk when he shared about his grandfather’s tithing payment during the depression. This talk helped me to reflect on my husband, Blake, and I’s experience this semester. We have worked, sacrificed, and saved to be able to come live downtown Atlanta for him to attend GA Tech and we set aside a certain amount of money for his tuition this semester, but we ended up using 1/3 of what we had calculated. This great blessing came, I believe, as a result of sacrifice and diligent tithing paying. I am so grateful that God opens the windows of heaven and I know that I have been a recipient of His great generosity and miracles in many ways (health, financial stability, social opportunities, academically, etc.). My faith and trust in God supersedes my own calculations and work. Through HIS mercy and with HIS strength I can do all things.

BLOG – Guy Kawasaki: The Art of Branding
For my blog this week I read an article about branding. There were a few interesting points I want to highlight. A thought that struck me while reading was that of self-branding. Marketing a product is important and necessary, but I realized that as an individual and an entrepreneur I’m really branding MYSELF in every interaction I have with others. One of the most valuable time investments I can make is contributing to my own character and moral ethics as well as my skill set. The next principle that stood out to me was that of the “jargon” test. Kawasaki recommends running a brand positioning statement by your parents to be sure there aren’t words, phrases, or acronyms that are unfamiliar to the general public. I need to especially remember this with the business I want to go into since there are many opportunities for culture-specific language and terminology where there is potential for consumers to get lost.

Guy Kawasaki: Funding Choices
“Money warps you.” I found this statement very interesting and relevant. I’ve found in my own life that keeping a firm grasp on my finances has helped me to live with MORE freedom, regardless of the dollar amount in my bank account. I also think that the better relationship I develop with money, where it doesn’t intimidate me or feel unattainable, the more I can relax when I receive it and mange it effectively. I want to be able to balance between spending money recklessly and hoarding it as if I’ll never get paid another dollar in my life. There are many principles of savvy-spending that can carry over from personal finances to financing a business.

Peter Diamandis: Energetic Fundraising
“When you ask for money you often get advice; when you ask for advice you often get money.” Strive to build relationships with groups of people and individuals rather than looking for money. Money is a transfer of energy and confidence from the giver to the receiver.

$100 Project Update
This week I had a chance to evaluate the budget necessary for my plan. One thing I realized was that with a service-based company it may appear that my initial investment is low, but I have to calculate the hours and time spent and consider how else that time could be spent and what other possible incomes I am surpassing by allocating my time to this project. As a student I spend many hours a day with my studies and by taking time to build this company I am taking time away from my studies. In the long run, the ROI of graduation is higher than the ROI of my business, but I have to also consider that my GPA won’t necessarily affect my future income levels with my graduation, so it is a good trade-off to earn cash doing entrepreneurial ventures while in school as long as I can maintain my classes enough to accomplish my assignments.

B283 – Week 4

The GEM Model:

Gather, Enhance, Market. How can this acronym apply to me and my business?

Gather: I can assess similar prices in my market and budget out how much time per week I have to offer. I can also gather helpful tools like cleaning supplies.

Enhance: I can babysit for a few families and receive referrals and recommendations/reviews from them to use on my advertising materials.

Market: I can make flyers and put them up where appropriate in the common areas of our apartment. I can also speak with my RA about referrals and contact the few people I have met and ask for help in spreading the word to those they may know that I don’t.

Win the Day with Tim Ferriss
Today I read an article from the “Young Entrepreneurs” blog. It was a video interview where Tim Ferriss, successful Entrepreneur and author, shared his morning routine. I have been thinking a lot about morning routines and what I can do to get more grounded and organized in the morning. I want my morning routine to look something like this:
-Make bed, Pray
-Drink tea and study scriptures
-Exercise (at least 30 mins yoga)
-Organize apartment
-Get dressed and ready for the day (shower, hair, makeup)
-By 10:00am start school

HMM: Business Plan Development
1- Consider the audience you are writing your business plan for. Consider what would help them to feel secure and what aspects of the plan would contribute to their security and pique their interest in joining with you, funding you, etc.
2- Gather relevant information. This would include necessary production costs, physical space required, competitor’s positions, and legalities such as licensing and permits. Glean information from libraries, the chamber of commerce, the internet, and from your competitors.
3- Compile information into legible and organized format: cover page (with logo or emblem), table of contents, summary (customers or problem your product will be serving including end financial potential and risk), business description (express commitment and capacity for making business succeed), business environment analysis, industry background, competitive analysis, market analysis, marketing plan (product, price, place, promotion), operations plan (daily activities of the business), management summary, financial plan, attachments, and milestones.

$100 Challenge Assessment:
This week I felt overwhelmed by the $100 challenge assignment to write a business plan. It was great to get a lot of the kinks worked out and to really have to think about the specifics of the company, but I realized as I reviewed the requirements that there was a lot about my plan I hadn’t thought out yet. Writing the plan outline really helped me to evaluate necessary steps in accomplishing my goal.

B283 – Week 3

I learned from President Hinkley about humility in the office you sustain. He started his talk mentioning that he was overwhelmed and humbled by the honor of having a building named after him. He spoke of his desire to live up to the honor. He also referred to the Ricks family, the founders of Ricks College, and how they had so humbly agreed to have their namesake removed from the college as it transitioned to a 4-year school and became Brigham Young University – Idaho. These were examples to me of how I would want to be as a business leader. I have witnessed a few entrepreneurs and business owners who are humble and grateful in all they do. They are quick to recognize others and express gratitude for all those who contribute to make the company or organization great. They forego their ego in regards to their position and see their business as a conglomerate of dedicated, hard-working, faithful partners. My favorite line he says is, “There’s no end in sight for the good you could do…you’re not geniuses, I know that. But the work of the world isn’t done by geniuses. It’s done by ordinary people who have learned to work in an extraordinary way. Don’t sell yourselves short.”

From a Visionary Business I really loved the idea of keeping people, planet, and profit in equal proportions. With the business I am interested in doing I intend to do these things. I feel a responsibility and devotion to each of these characteristics, some for personal reasons and others for eternal reasons. I am grateful for this advice and look forward to implementing it in all I do as I live my dreams.

My favorite idea from the videos I watched was that of Marissa Mayer from Google. She spoke about how Google focuses on gathering ideas from everyone and everywhere. She said they come from engineers, corporate, and users. This technique allows for innovation to be capitalized upon. I think this is very useful in business so there isn’t a “top heavy” approach within the company where the owners or leaders do the creative work and the people “lower on the totem pole” do the grunt work to make those ideas happen. Google works as a cooperative gleaning from everyone which helps everyone have their thinking cap on at all times because who knows whose idea will become the next big thing?

I was very touched and inspired by the Action Hero video of Tim Monaghan. I think the way he lived his life is profoundly inspiring and a true example of Christlike behavior. I believe God will support me in achieving my dreams and generating large amounts of money as long as I dedicate my work and the results to Him and building His kingdom as I have covenanted to do. I want to look for ways to develop that attitude and spirit even now so that I will naturally desire to do good and be good wherever my entrepreneurial journey takes me.

I was also intrigued by the Special Report on Entrepreneurship article we read and how it reviewed the state of entrepreneurship in a number of different countries. Since coming to live at Georgia Tech with my husband we have come in contact with many, many students from around the world and from a wide variety of cultural backgrounds. I want to develop relationships with these individuals and come to understand their dreams and goals, what fuels them, and their way of life. Cultural diversity is one of the most eye-opening and enlightening elements of development and I want to find ways to share with the other cultures of the world and learn from what they do well and where their strengths lie.

This week I decided what I want to do for my $100 challenge. I want to create a mothers-helper business! I even had my first chance to work with a family who just had a baby. I not only earned my first money towards my $100, but I was able to explain what I am working on and start to spread the word to generate business. I had a lot of fun and look forward to all that I will learn this semester with this project!

B283 – Lesson 2

This week has been a total whirlwind! My husband, Blake, and I have moved into a new apartment in downtown Atlanta where he is attending GA Tech. I have started my first full week of online classes taking 17 credits, which I’ve never done as an online student before! Somehow this transition has taught me much about entrepreneurship and who I want to become. I’ve been able to set goals with the new year and work diligently in various aspects of life to accomplish those goals. I have also learned about time management and planning with balancing my classes. We don’t have a car, so I have had to become acquainted with my surroundings and become “street-savvy” in a new and somewhat intimidating place. Each of these life experiences can be applied to my journey as a business person. I have found in my past experience that setting and accomplishing goals, managing time and schedules, and learning to adapt to new environments are all useful traits I’ve needed for experiences I’ve had while managing my own business. I’ve read in the book I’m studying this week about how to grow myself personally to be prepared to get where I want to go and reading about that has allowed for me to see so many opportunities where that is already happening in my daily life. Each day and each new experience can be applied to help me achieve my greater goals of making a difference in the world and helping to financially support my family now and in the future.

One aspect of this class I have felt apprehensive about is that of our $100.00 project. Being in a new place without a car makes me feel intimidated and limited in my abilities to start a business. I have limited resources financially and in regards to my time, but because of these limitations I feel that this experience will be extra-beneficial. I still don’t know what I am going to do for sure, but I have brainstormed a few ideas and I am looking forward to the lessons I will learn as I embark on a challenging adventure. I’m looking forward to this class helping me develop new skills and abilities as well as increasing my knowledge of what it takes to run a small business. I’ve learned so much already! I especially liked something I learned from Guy Kawasaki’s blog called the 4 P’s: people, product, partnerships, perseverance. I like Kawasaki’s way of writing and look forward to following his blog this semester.

Action Hero: Bruce Thompson

The underlying messages that stood out to me from Bruce Thompson’s video were perseverance and work/life perspective.

I’ve found in my own entrepreneurial ventures that perspective and determination truly do make all the difference. Whether it’s a good day or a bad day, I have found I can look forward to the future with faith and hope and things always look up. Thompson mentions moving forward regardless of current situation and how much attitude determines success. He shared, “Do the right thing. It won’t always make you the most money, but things will always work out in the end.”

The message Thompson shared about work/life balance was profound. His dedication to his family was obvious and he discussed how he had to make a conscientious decision to set parameters for his time at work. He learned to tell himself that the work would be there the next day rather than letting his passion for his work overwhelm every aspect of his life. In essence he echoed the LDS message that no amount of success can compensate for failure in the home.