Seventhman Blog

  1. How Can Entrepreneurs Build Better Business Relationships?

    "customer relationship"I have many times asked myself if entrepreneurship is a lonely road – where only the brave pursue visions at the cost of sacrificing traditional employment to make that passion a reality.  Maybe, I’m right all along that entrepreneurs are radical thinkers when it comes to engaging themselves in this self-involved mindset, where success is a gamble.  Along the way, these people will meet other like minds and the call to build relationships for business and personal success is growing stronger.  The problem is, many small business owners are struggling with deepening these relationships with fellow entrepreneurs.

    Where Relationship Meets Business

    When your business is growing, having business relationships is crucial if you’re looking for referrals along the way.  These relationships fuel your business, other than your customers.  Most often, we are caught up in selling our products and services that we overlook building stronger ties with long-term customers, vendors and potential business partners.  Like any other type of relationships, business relationships is all about mutuality, of give and take, of sharing and supporting.  Unfortunately, it is easier for us to automate the process that we approach everyone in our network like we were out hunting for a bargain.  The human factor that made the brick-and-mortar business survive this far amidst all the technological innovation is out.  We focus so much on transactions, on sales, on closing deals… and less on communication.  Are we really that busy?

    Keeping In Touch: Who, Where and How

    For those of you with online presence, keeping a balance between conversation and marketing may seem like a curse, especially when there’s too much noise to deal with.  Staying in touch with everyone in your network is a time-consuming activity.  Someone even call this phenomenon as ‘social media saturation’.  Come to think of it, it’s easier to accept anyone into your network with a touch of a button.  It’s harder to know who are for real and who are just hoping for your follow back.  While having a large number of following on your social account can be flattering, it’s not how many that matters – but who these people are.. and how often you talk to them.  Whether you keep in touch each week, every 15 days or once in a month – it’s all about continuity without bombarding that person with spammy, purely promotional type of monologue.  Starting with an open, honest relationship is all about listening more than you talk.  While it’s tough to say you don’t have answers to all the questions about your niche, you’ll be surprise how this admission will earn you more respect as an expert in your community.

    Entrepreneurship and Business Relationships:  Nurture, Conquer or Divide

    Anyone who is running their own business is so passionate about its goals that they can’t talk about anything else.  You’re not to blame if you picture yourself as one.  You just see a bigger world of opportunities, collaboration and risks that while you actively engage in climbing the ladders of success, you may feel alienated in the process.  You may even lose old friends who are not in tune with what you believe in or be called a mercenary in your quest to convert a friend into a customer.  But true business relationships is all about nurturing, of learning more about your connections so you can share values while complimenting each other’s strengths and weaknesses.  Just how often do you get out of your office to meet new people is not really the issue here.  It’s more on a question of how willing are you to give more than you take, of how good are you in working with other people.

    When was the last time you took the time to say ‘thank you’.. or sent out a hand-written note of appreciation to folks who have helped you out?

  2. Do You Have What It Takes to Become a Great CEO?

    "great leadership"I’m just catching up with the news around this year’s Olympics in London and thought that I would blog about inspiration you can get from the game that applies to an entrepreneur’s world.  Problem is that many are doing that already.  Come to think of it, business is a lot like sports.. where you engage in the game of solving your customer’s pain, offer them something unique, sell, build relationships, lead and try to gain your sanity by aiming for a work-life balance.  Sometimes, it makes you think that radical thinking is the only real thing that separates a good business from a great one.  While many of the benefits far outweigh the challenges every business owner face, it makes me wonder why only a small percentage of companies are truly great.  What is great..?

    What Makes a Great Startup CEO

    Being CEO has more than a touch of glamour printed on your business card.  It’s more than that drive to innovate that moves the usual CEO to becoming a great one.  S/he is a keeper of the vision that’s larger for everyone to understand and I’m talking long term here.  Just take a look at how giants like Apple, Facebook and Google all started as startups.. and the great leaders that pushed everyone to put the pieces of a huge jigsaw puzzle together in building something larger than life.  Have they known that they will become a phenomenal success?  Of course, not!  Only movies got spoilers for that and for the rest of us who work hard to make this vision a reality, it takes passion, determination and extremely low levels of tolerance for stress that makes you wonder if we’re some sort of a sadomasochistic herd ( no pun intended ).  Yes, everyone wants to have our job because we are insanely successful, we can take off whenever we want, got lots of time to party around and so on.  I hate to break the bad news to you.. but the real scenario is far from the myths that surround an entrepreneur’s life.  I can work 18 hours or more in a day or two just to keep things working for my clients.  I may not be building the next breakthrough in the name of tech, but the harder I work, the more results I see.  Great CEOs are always excited to control their own destiny.

    Do You Have What It Takes to Build a Great Business?

    Most of us online are already well connected.  You got the expertise and the contacts.  What should you do next?  In my years of competing in the consulting business, I have learned that there is a fine line between being unique and being useful.  What differentiates you from the rest doesn’t necessarily mean that it is something of value to your customers, and focusing on benefits alone can turn your business into a boring brand, something that looks like everyone else.  Where do you draw the line?  While you may disagree with me on this very opinionated post that you should not focus on revenues, your sensitivity through active listening will just help you pinpoint the real root cause of the problem.  In a world where the fast beats the big, time is quintessential.  As Bill Gates said, “Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning.”  Consequently, it is of no coincidence that the world’s greatest leaders ( even the infamous ones ) are great communicators.  Truth is, your clients won’t really care how much you know until they know how much you care about their problem.  Creating this culture of caring into your business will pave the road to greatness.

    Managing Your Mind: The Great Barrier to Your Success Reef

    The biggest challenge that you will face before you become a great CEO is facing the doppelganger of your restless mind.  How many times have you doubted your performance?  You think you’re doing a great job and yet, you feel bad.  What’s wrong in this picture?  The only way for you to become a great leader is to be one.  No amount of management training can really prepare you for the job of running a company.  And even if you think you know what you are doing in an era where everyone is involved in the new way of doing business, things can go awfully wrong.  When it does, you may add more injury to the pain by taking everything too personally or not personally enough.  Where do you really step in?  Is being great a lonely job, after all?  I’d say that there will be plenty of times when you feel like quitting and if you succumb, you wouldn’t know that you’re only a step away towards success.  Fear is irrational and it’s all inside your head.

    Can you keep your focus on your roadmap?  That’s something for you to ponder on this summer..

  3. Why Entrepreneurs Should Become Radical Thinkers

    "radical thinking"They say that if you ask the right question, you will get the right answer.  It’s simple common sense.  Yet, we often miss opportunities because we kicked the ‘human’ out of the process, and bombard our questions with technological terms and jargon speak.  This may be one of the reasons why it is hard to find your business principles these days, that no matter how you try to get rid of the complexities, you just won’t do it.  To think strategically in terms of positioning your brand out there and gain competitive advantage is something of a hit-and-miss deal for many.  It’s a hard habit to break, don’t you think?

    The Bottom Line of Radical Thinking

    Umair Haque wowed me with his post on the paradox of radicalism.. and I have to agree that when all resources have been spent on thinking of the next great innovation, there’s always wisdom to be sought for in looking back to the past.  Maybe, you can spend time digging in to inspiring stories in that old history book and seek to challenge ideas that have worked before.  The problem with this consumerist age is that every entrepreneur wants to come up with the next shiny object without giving second thoughts on how these will make a difference in people’s lives, more accurately, in their customers’ lives.  You don’t have to go the extreme just to make an impact.  In times when even big brands reach an epic low, to be radical may simply mean taking the next step from being a spectator to a mind mover.  You don’t even have to become a rebel and protest in the streets.

    Is It Time to Change Your Mind Habit?

    When you’re used to the trivial way of things, it is quite hard to know if you’re practicing good or bad habits.  If you’ve read Charles Duhigg‘s new book, The Power of Habit, you’ll know exactly  what I mean.  Have you ever wondered why you struggle so hard to do something when you can do things now?  Maybe, you’re waiting for something to strike or waiting for someone to do things for you.  Be it boredom, complacency, distraction, procrastination, negativity or low energy in accomplishing tasks – the excuses can be plenty and you HAVE to do something about it!  When you became a business owner, you’re not an employee anymore and yet, you’re still working.. for yourself this time.  You can always schedule time to change these habits and brainstorm new ideas – before and after business hours.   Are you willing to sacrifice a bit to make things happen?  You are the only key to change.

    Real Innovation: Mindset or Skillset

    When you’re stuck with corporate thinking, you think about existing status quo and rules that are now the big barriers to creation of new ideas.  The old bureaucracy may not work in an environment that encourages openness and agility.  If you’re not willing to listen to your team, to challenge common beliefs, then, the room for growth becomes too small.  While acquiring new skills are called for in this age of outsourcing, big data and technology – it is your attitude, your view, and your passion which will drive you to the right direction.  Let your motivation affect your perception and you’ll start to perceive what everyone fails to see.  Sometimes, it is totally fine to do a counter flow to where everyone is going.  You may want to be trendy.. but would you really want to be another face in the crowd?

    Try solving real problems this time and create true value for your customers.

    *** and if you’re looking for words of wisdom to chill out your inquisitive mind, you can check out The 10 Best eBooks Entrepreneurs Should Be Reading This Summer

  4. Business Principles: Your Mission and Vision Will Define Your Action

    "business vision"What’s the difference between a successful business and an epic fail?  The second one hits the wall because no business principle has been established, committed to, and communicated.  Call it many different names: vision, mission, values.. if you don’t define them, it’s like driving long distances without a road map.  Just as thinking outside the box is crucial when you’re formulating ideas for your business, you have to lay down the foundation that will set the stage for many decisions that you will make later, or you may see yourself going downward spiral.  And don’t give me the reason that you have no time; I’d say make time!  These core values will affect everything that you do, no matter how big or small it may be.

    Creating a Vision in Vulnerable Economies

    Promoting entrepreneurship is not an easy task when you’re talking about small businesses that are thriving in developing countries and economically-challenged zones.  While outsourcing has bridged the gap between skills and technology across the globe, having a comprehensive approach in tackling the slews of difficulties in business growth seems more than just a modern vocabulary in the world of innovation.  The truth is, that whether one does business in developing or progressive countries, most often, the CEOs of these organizations are not in touch with reality – simply because they lack a clear mission, vision, values statement to start with.  It’s like an incurable paralysis spreading over one’s foot, leg… just because processes are ineffective and goals are misaligned.

    Your Values are the DNA of Your Business

    Our founding fathers have made it clear what freedom really meant and they took every measure available in order to gain independence.  They were revolutionary thinkers.  You see, no matter how grandiose your vision ( more likely, fantasy ) is, if you don’t make a mark within your company about it for your people to believe, everything’s lost.  This is why it is not only important to shape your business with your founding principles, but to stay transparent and consistent with your cause.  Perhaps, we can define:

    Mission – as the very reason ‘Why’ your business exists
    Vision – as the way your business will look in the future, like five years from now
    Values – as your collection of beliefs that you share with everyone in your organization; something that creates your company culture

    And having a mission based on your vision will help you define values to keep, as you inspire your team to charge in the right direction.

    Your Business Principles Don’t Have to Stink

    Like rotten eggs, that is, if you make time to create something meaningful.  This means you have to come up with a statement that’s tailored to your business, something that doesn’t look like everyone else’s.  No buzzwords, no jargon.  Keeping things simple is your best bet here and you may not be a talented writer, but your mission-vision statement have to make sense, so much so that it gets everyone in your team excited about what defines your company.  Think of storytelling.  What story does your business have to tell?  Will this story spark an interest among your customers?

    There’s no need for talking the talk here and  those countless excuses why you don’t need to write down what really defines your business.  You may know what you’re doing or you may not. You may be too busy for all I care.  But having a focus and clarity on your mission, vision, values, and objectives will shape that winning strategy you’ve been looking for ever since.  It’s time to take.. Action!

     

    Freedom is nothing but a chance to be better.  ~Albert Camus

    Happy Independence!!!