In wrapping up this class, I am grateful for the motivation and new skills I have learned. I think this class is important in determining not just business ideas, but how to live a meaningful life. Our employment takes up a huge portion of our life, maybe even the biggest portion, so it is important to find work that aligns with the rest of your goals in life.
I feel like for my generation, the goal is to find a way to make ends meet, and you are lucky if it is also something you really enjoy doing. I think this class has given me a better perspective that even your job as the manager of Staples can be important and crucial to your life development.
I learned how to maximize my opportunities. I can look at my options and see more than the means to an end. I can make every day something holy and special, even something as basic as washing the dishes. When I remember why I do something, it changes the meaning and significance. Doing chores is mundane, but it is an important part of family life that has to be done. Now when I am working on cleaning, I am using that time to plan, meditate, and otherwise engage myself to more efficiently use my time as well as making it more enjoyable.
I saw so many good examples of how people utilized their resources and talents to do something unique. I learned the role of ethics and how it is never okay to do something bad, even if it was for “good” reasons. I learned how to be a successful entrepreneur, and how beyond the skills involved it is important to never give up. Be someone who can problem solve in creative ways to overcome the challenges that come. I learned more about being tough, and that it takes more than just a good idea and hard work to make a successful business.
Overall, this course gave me confidence in myself to make a difference. Not only can I run a profitable business, but I can provide a service that helps people. I can do both things at the same time. When doing these things together, they both help and support each other which helps me to do better than I could have trying to do these two goals separately.
This week had so much practical advice and overall ideas that I want to remember. The first is that there is no one path to success. If we have an end goal of providing a comfortable life for our families, and you know you want to work with music, there are still a lot of paths you can take to reach that goal. Even if we start somewhere that seems completely unrelated, those things can lead to other opportunities more aligned to what you are looking for. It opened my mind to different possibilities I had not considered before.
I also appreciated one of the criteria the reading gave for determining if your idea is a viable business option. We need to look at the “realness” of the opportunity and ask it this is just a personal passion or could it be a commercial success? We also need to think of the idea’s durability, marshalling resources, managing a venue, and harvesting that venue. Are our ideas based on economic realities?
These are the steps the reading gave for forming a business model:
- Define a unique strategy that differentiates the new venue from the alternatives.
- Identify the resources and capabilities required to execute a strategy.
- Identifying the compelling benefits and value proposition for key stakeholders.
Action hero Larry North talked about having a thick skin and being prepared for body blows, like lawsuits and embezzlement. When thinking of a business, I imagine the fun and happy parts with huge workloads, but I had not thought much about the legal and employee problems that could arise. Those kind of situations cannot be avoided through hard work and a positive attitude. Of course there are things you can do to protect yourself, like having insurance and trusting in the justice system to do their job.
This topic has been one of my favorite so far, because it restored some of my faith in capitalism. Free-markets controlled by profits should mean fairness and equality, but sometimes it feels like it comes at the expense of the most vulnerable among us. Capitalism should not equal greed. Just like money in and of itself is not evil, neither is capitalism. It is just how people use it.
In today’s corporate culture, we see that employees are regarded as costs instead of assets. They are an expense to be paid instead of a community to invest in. A quote from the reading said that, “companies die because managers focus on the economic activity of producing goods and services and forget that their organization’s true nature is that of a community of people”. When we remove short-term profit pressures from top executives, they are free to make better decisions for the long-term success of their businesses. By investing in people and making customers our priority over profits, businesses will make the growth they are working so hard to find.
A video we watched was about small pox, and how they were able to eradicate a deadly illness. Today, I just watched a news special on how insulin prices are extorted so high that it is impossible for people to afford, and it is threatening lives. These two examples severely contrast each other and show me the choice we make as entrepreneurs and business owners. I get to choose the vision and goals for my company, and decide to be noble or not. That is one of the reasons having ethical guardrails is so important, and why I want to be careful to follow them.
My favorite quote from this weeks reading was a by Louisa May Alcott, that said:
I do not ask for any crown/ But that which all may win/ Nor try to conquer any world/ Except the one within
Not only is that beautiful, but I loved the meaning it gave me. The true victories in life will not be awards and recognition, but the inner struggle of learning and growing. There are so many worthy goals to aim for, but one of the best things I can do to help others is to better myself. This does not entirely mean self-care and spa days. It means hard work, trying new things, admitting I am wrong, and getting better at the things I do not like to do. I want to really see myself because I am the only one who can.
An article about my attitude on money taught me a few things. First, that I view money as a means to be happy. I think along the lines of, “Once I have this specific amount of money, when I have my mortgage paid off, that is when I will be happy. That is when I can relax and begin enjoying life.” While it is good to have goals and to want to be successful and provide a good life for my family, I think I need to learn how to enjoy all the stages of my life. The beginning struggles of starting a family is beautiful and I am happy, and I want to remember that one day I am going to look back and miss this time in my life.
If I want to make sure I am enjoying the now, I need to be present and engaged in all the little things I do every day. I can still worry about the bills, but not have my time always focused on that. I want to view money in a happier way.
My favorite idea from the reading this week talked about how entrepreneurship is not a skill you have or do not have. Entrepreneurship is a range of behaviors. This made so much sense to me because as people we are all so different, with unique combinations of strengths and weaknesses. So while some people are really good with technology and innovating but not a strong marketer, while someone else may be the opposite. Some gifts just come naturally to people, and others have to work really hard to get better at it. If you have a desire to be an entrepreneur, you can do it. It was really encouraging to think about, and know that I can use to abilities I have to create a model that is successful for me.
The reading gave some important qualities an entrepreneur needs, and they are desiring growth and self-confidence in your abilities. There is a balance to confidence and being naive, but in general I think that if you have a dream you can achieve it. It can be hard to be motivational without getting too cheesy, but this week helped me think about what I want to do and how I can do it. I feel more excited and ready to start.
I also got to meet with Kendall this week. He is a dairy farmer who makes his own cheese. My biggest take away from that experience is that if your heart is in it, then you can succeed. Whatever I do, I want to love doing it, because that is the best reward of all.
Part of our reading called A Message to Garcia gave some pointers that I wanted to put here so I remember them. The main idea is that an ability to execute is the most important quality. They listed some examples of how to do that. There were a lot, but these are the ones I thought were most pertinent to me:
- Right Attitude
- Under promise and deliver
- Put results before schmoozing
Another concept I was introduced to is the Hedgehog concept. As funny as it is, it means to be good at one thing and stick to it. I liked the simplicity of this idea because sometimes it can be easy to get caught up in growing and improving, when sometimes it is good to just look where you are at and make sure you are doing what you do really well. Sometimes you need to sacrifice the short term for the long term, but sometimes you just need to focus on making the most of what you are right now.
Another important quote from the reading was when someone said, “Customer satisfaction is the most important indicator for a business’s success”. It seems obvious, but if the customer is not happy, they won’t buy. The better the service you provide, the more customers you will have, and the more successful you will be. Another big thing she said was, “The customer can’t always tell you what they want, but they can always tell you what is wrong”. An important part of running a business is getting feedback and adapting and innovating based on what they say. I think this also means a lot of careful thought, because otherwise you have to continually use trial and error which is time consuming and wasteful. If you get their feedback about what they do not like, you can use critical thinking to determine the best solutions to those problems.
Initially, I was wary of this unit. Surviving adversity can be hard to discuss without using cliches, and it is often overdone. So I was pleasantly surprised by how this week’s reading was so enjoyable. I had actually been struggling personally with something, and a quote from Heros spoke right to me said, “I believe in the sun even when it is not shining, I believe in love even when I do not feel it. I believe in God even when He is silent.” It is hopeful and beautiful and made my heart feel lighter. This week was so helpful not just as a entrepreneur, but as an individual as well.
I also enjoyed the analogy from the reading about how failure is something essential to our growth. It is not something to be avoided or feared, or somehow ruin my abilities. That does not mean fail on purpose, it just means that if I am doing my best work and making careful plans, I should be able to get up and keep trying if I make a mistake.
I learned a lot from our other reading as well, about networking. It was satisfying to read because it was a lot of practical advise and common sense. The most important take away I got from that was when I want to plan a meet up with someone, I should consider what they are getting from the meeting, as well. I should also have some idea of how to best use the time they are giving me to make the meeting as productive as possible. If the interviewee feels respected, they are more likely to invest more effort into the meeting and give better advise. This will also give them a positive impression of me, which is important for networking. It is to my benefit to consider their needs and make the meeting mutually beneficial.
In the reading, there were some terms that were introduced in a new way that I thought were interesting. Synergism is a method of working together were the whole is greater than the sum of the parts. Team work has never been my strong point, and I think that is because I have been approaching it all wrong. Instead of having an attitude of do things my way or your way, I should be thinking that let’s do it a new, better way. Real collaboration is hard, and I think it has to do with my pride, too. I like to think all the best parts of an group project are from me, but having that mindset is not productive. So this simple concept about synergy made a big impact on me.
Another important word that was mentioned was homeostasis. I love biology so I liked thinking of this idea in a social and personal way. I realized I can be more resistant to change than I should be. I can be very complacent at times and my motto is, “If it isn’t broken, don’t fix it.” I would not consider myself as an innovator. However, this could really hurt my personal growth because trying more new things could give me important experience. I am too afraid of failure, and I need to be braver and get excited to make some mistakes.
My last thought was about a quote from the novel talked about society today feels like, “. . . life . . . is an endless series of climatic moments”. I think that the most meaningful experiences in my life have been totally ordinary and unplanned moments. The richness in life is not from a couple of big events. Thinking about this idea helped me evaluate my expectations and what I expect for myself.
There were several quotes from the reading that I highlighted this week, like: “Private victory precedes public victory”. If we want a successful business and career, we need to take care of our personal life first. It does not mean “treat yo’self” everyday, but I do need to take time for my physical, mental, social, and emotional health. When I am my best self, then I can do my best to help others. In the short term neglecting myself could be time efficient, but in the long run I would burn out or get sick and then be less productive and loose opportunities. So, I think it is about pacing yourself and finding balance in your life.
Another of my favorite parts was the reading about crafting successful strategies that said, “. . . [the] comprehensive analytical approach to planning does not suit all start ups”. The author explained that some start-ups began with little planning and adapted with experience. Depending on your market, this is really valuable advice. If you wait too long doing research instead of seizing your moment, then the you could miss the opportunity, because either someone else has filled the need or the demand has gone away. It does not mean that planning is bad and you shouldn’t use it, but I think it is about reading the scene and using good judgement.
The last part I highlighted was from the same article, and it talked about screening opportunities quickly to weed out unpromising ventures. You could have a really good idea, but lack the resources and means to follow it. Or maybe you have the means, but it would not be a good career fit for your lifestyle. You have to match up your ideas with your circumstances, skills, resources, and consumer needs. This helped give me perspective for analyzing my options.
This week was really inspiring for me! There are a lot of things I want to remember, but my favorite part was a quote from one of the videos. The speaker was talking about finding your passion, and he said do not try to narrow it down to one thing. Free yourself up for a portfolio of passions and match them up with the opportunities in front of you.
This has helped me so much because my problem is that there are a lot of things I love, and trying to pick just one has felt impossible. From what he said I can look at the problem with a different perspective, and try to see which of my passions gives me the best options right now and in the long term.
Something else that was inspiring is how the reading talked about how the importance is in the journey, not the destination. Sometimes that feels like a cliche teenage girls overuse, but hearing it now made me self-reflective about how I am viewing my life and identifying my accomplishments right now. Sometimes I can feel a little depressed about the mundane work in my life, how cleaning and cooking are never ending and the reward so short lived. If I focus on the process as the triumph instead of the finished product, it would help me feel much better. It is not always easy to think that way, of course, but I feel like I have a new tool to use to help me be the best person I can be.
There was a definition of the how to be a successful entrepreneur that I found insightful. “[The secret is]. . . deposits of skill and character made in a consistent way through trial, error, and struggle”.
This teaches me a few things. First, that there is no single thing you do to be a successful entrepreneur. It takes a combination of factors like skill, perseverance, and good character. This quote also emphasizes the work involved. That may not mean you have to work insane hours to be successful, but rather that you need to not give up when the work is difficult. That also does not mean stubbornly keep doing what you are doing, it means adapting and learning in order to grow.