That’s one of the top 10 “lies” I hear regularly from entrepreneurs. The answer is: it depends.
In New York City, large fashion companies often knowingly exploit entrepreneurs who come to them with ideas. The city is aware of this situation and, in fact, they were the ones that warned me about it.
So what’s an entrepreneur to do?
Sitting at home nursing your idea is not going to make you famous or rich. Only exposure can do that. So Market!!! By building a brand, you are building market share for yourself and your product. Sure you’re letting the competition see your product. It’s not that you can prevent theft, but by establishing a brand and market presence you are at least in the competitive arena and are there first. If you don’t, then you can be completely ripped off and your idea becomes someone else’s brand. Whether you are a brick and mortar store, an online shop, or a line of clothing, get your ideas up and branded. Someone might steal your idea, but meanwhile you’ve established a leadership position with the product.
BRANDING = $$$.
I know this is not a start up’s success story. But my point holds for a company of any size. GE attributes incremental sales of $10 billion a year just to the power of its brand. Generic soft white light bulbs are sold next to the GE brand. The products have the same performance specs on their packages.
But, 9 out of 10 people buy the GE product and pay 25% more. That’s the power of branding.
Sandra Holtzman teaches CEO 035: Licensing.
May 16th through the 20th is National Small Business Week.
It’s an opportunity to honor the spirit of the entrepreneur and thank them for the benefits growing businesses bestow upon our economy and community – job creation and poverty reduction. This year I thought it would be nice to not only thank them but also provide a helpful business best practice.
Reap What You
Business owners, and for those aspiring to become entrepreneurs, your ability to achieve the ultimate reward – doing good while doing well – hinges on how well you solve problems for your customers.
The following 5 step problem-solving methodology produces substantial benefits:
- Identifying the correct problem. This is the linchpin to everything else. Unfortunately, it’s not as simple as one might think. Ask the right people a lot of questions about what the problem really is, instead of guessing and making a snap decision.
- Get creative. Brainstorm possible solutions, the best ideas are generated when you have the opportunity to bounce them off others.
- Evaluate. The pecking order of choice is 1) the impact on the goal, 2) the level of complexity (time & money), and 3) measurability.
- Execute. Take action. One would be surprised at how often this step is skipped. This is why Nike’s slogan of ‘Just Do It’ is so strong.
- Validate. Did the assumptions hold true.
Bonus: Learn how to and when to pivot (deciding what to change and then take action to reconfigure some part(s) of the solution)
Is it worth the effort? Absolutely, the payoff for executing is a profitable, successful, and focused entity with satisfied customers. And that is your goal isn’t it?
Donald McMichael teaches BE 261: Starting a Small Business.
The one question I’m most consistently asked by entrepreneurs is “how do I hire a (fill in the blank – web development, PR, marketing, SEO) firm?” When reading the suggestions below, keep your own company in mind and how you deal with the same situation when the tables are turned and you are the vendor.
The two most important factors are good communication and trust. Here’s why. If the person shows they are truly listening to your needs and respond to your needs, this signals a good communications loop between you two. They will probably work well as a team with you. If they politely listen until you stop talking and then ignore what you said and start selling you something, it probably won’t work. Remember if the communication isn’t there right from the start, it only goes downhill after you hire them. Likewise, it goes uphill if you two are clicking. Another benefit of this alignment of vision, is that they will be thinking of solutions for you to questions that you haven’t asked or even thought of.
I will always select someone who is truly listening to my needs and wants over any other criteria any day. Here’s a quick list of other screening questions to ask:
• Request at least two references – ask them the best and worst features of working with the company. Ask if they are on time and meet their deadlines. And why they no longer work with them (if that’s the case).
• Find out who will be handling your work on a day-to-day basis. That’s the person you want to meet. How flexible are they? Can they turn on a dime and take advantage of sudden opportunities?
• Do they have experience in your sector or have they worked with businesses like yours? It’s not a deal-breaker if they don’t. But then I would revert back to trust and good communications. We saw a consumer design firm create a retail logo for a biotech firm. Wrong! They didn’t take the time to understand the needs of their client.
• Ask for samples of their past work.
• How will the relationship be structured? Get an idea of costs before you sign on.
• How often will they report their activities to you?
• What services can you expect for your money?
• And finally, always create a contract so everyone knows exactly where they stand.
Sandra Holtzman teaches CEO 035: Licensing.
Creative Enterprise Ownership Certificate Program.