The fax!!!

A man was talking to his father.
“Dad, I was away on business for a week.
Yesterday I sent a fax to my wife saying that I’d be home that night, and when I got into our room I found my wife in another man’s arms.
Why, dad? Tell me why!” Dad kept silent for a few minutes, then coolly said, “Maybe she didn’t get the fax, son.”

Does being beautiful get you further in life?

Throughout history, people have always been interested in making the most of their looks.  But it’s clear that not only is that interest growing, but that the appearance ‘ideals’ which many of us strive toward are becoming more extreme.

Researchers are noting that the ‘unremitting’ pressure to conform to high appearance standards has escalated alarmingly in recent decades.  The growth of digital media has even allowed for the same appearance standards to be shared across the world, reducing the diversity that used to be celebrated among different cultures.

This shift in attitudes toward appearance has created a very different world in which being dissatisfied with the way you look is considered ‘normal’.  In the early 2000s, large scale studies estimated that between 61% and 82% of adult men and women had ‘significant’ appearance concerns.  That figure is now believed to be even higher.

According to studies such as those conducted by Dr Soloman and colleagues, the ideal facial appearance for both men and women is one which is symmetrical, with large eyes, unblemished skin, full lips and high cheekbones.  The anxiety of not matching up to appearance ideals can have a range of negative impacts on our physical health, our social relationships and our psychological wellbeing.

Worse still, is the notion that what is beautiful is good.  We are informed, directly or implicitly, that beauty is synonymous with success, happiness and fulfilling relationships.  Magazine features, TV makeover shows and airbrushed advertisements bring the flaws in our appearance into sharp focus and contribute to the idea that, if only we invested in a few nips and tucks or the latest lotions and potions, we could feel happier too.

It should follow then, that those with ‘good looks’ would naturally go further in life. Yet is that really the case? Although some evidence suggests that physically attractive people are initially viewed more positively by others, research has in fact found few associations between attractiveness and intelligence, ability or success. Thus, beauty may open a few doors, but it takes a lot more than good looks to make it to the top.

Similarly, when meeting someone for the first time, appearance is only central for the first 15-20 seconds, after which other characteristics, such as warmth, eye contact and conversational skills become more important in making a good impression. Research has also addressed the myth that long-term relationships are based on mutual attractiveness, instead highlighting the relative importance of sharing similar interests and values. Further, the majority of people report low levels of satisfaction with their appearance, suggesting that attractive people are no more satisfied with their appearance than anyone else. In fact, those who worry about their appearance and invest more time into looking good often have lower self-esteem and report lower levels of happiness.

What about those whose appearance differs not only from the ideal, but from the ‘norm’? Over one million people in the UK are living with a ‘significant disfigurement to the face and/or body’ occurring as a result of a congenital or acquired condition, such as a birth mark, a cleft lip, burns scarring or cancer treatment, according to the charity Changing Faces.

Surveys carried out among members of the public suggest that 9 out of 10 people implicitly assume those with an unusual appearance will be disadvantaged throughout life. However, research carried out at the Centre for Appearance Research indicates that the majority of people adjust well to their condition, often reporting superior wellbeing to that of the general population. Further, the studies demonstrated that the size and severity of the disfigurement has little bearing over the individual’s quality of life. Instead, it is psychological factors, such as the relative value we place on appearance over other personal qualities, which affect our wellbeing.

Today, girls as young as five are aware of how different they look to women in the media, and the pressure on boys and men is increasing too. With progressively high appearance standards becoming unattainable for all, and with people affected by appearance-altering conditions living happy and fulfilling lives, perhaps it is time that we stopped aspiring to appearance ideals, and invested more in our interests and relationships.

By Nicola Marie Stock – @ The Independent

Nicola Marie Stock is a Research Fellow at the Centre for Appearance Research, University of the West of England

Are you a leader or a follower???

Leadership is the art of persuasion—the act of motivating people to do more than they ever thought possible in pursuit of a greater good.

It has nothing to do with your title.

It has nothing to do with authority or seniority.

You’re not a leader just because you have people reporting to you. And you don’t suddenly become a leader once you reach a certain pay grade.

A true leader influences others to be their best. Leadership is about social influence, not positional power.

If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader. —John Quincy Adams
You don’t even need to have people reporting to you to be a leader. A janitor can influence people and lead just as a CEO can.

Likewise, anyone can become a follower, even while holding a leadership position.

If you’re a slave to the status quo, lack vision, or don’t motivate everyone around you to be their absolute best, then you’re a follower. Even if you happen to have a leadership title, people won’t follow you when they see those behaviors present.

A senior executive who creates unnecessary bureaucracy, locks himself in his office, and fails to interact with others in any meaningful way is no more a leader than an antisocial software engineer who refuses to do anything but write code.

Of course, the real question is—are you a leader or a follower?

To find out, you need to ask yourself some very important questions. Think carefully as you respond to each one, and you’ll soon know for certain.

Do you go above and beyond? Followers do their jobs, and that’s it. No matter how good they may be at those jobs, it rarely occurs to them to go beyond their basic functions. Leaders, on the other hand, see their job descriptions as the bare minimum—the foundation upon which they build greatness. Leaders see their real role as adding value, and they add it whenever and wherever they see an opportunity.

Are you confident? Followers see the talents and accomplishments of other people as a threat. Leaders see those same talents and accomplishments as an asset. Leaders want to make things better, and they’ll take help anywhere they can find it. Leaders are true team players. They aren’t afraid to admit that they need other people to be strong where they’re weak.

Are you optimistic? Followers see the limitations inherent in any given situation; leaders see the possibilities. When things go wrong, leaders don’t dwell on how bad things are. They’re too busy trying to make things better.

Are you open to change? Followers are content to stick with the safety of the status quo. They see change as frightening and troublesome. Leaders are maximizers who see opportunity in change. Because leaders want constant improvement, they’re never afraid to ask, “What’s next?”

Are you decisive? Followers often hesitate to act, out of fear that they’ll do the wrong thing. Leaders aren’t afraid to make a call, even when they’re not sure if it’s the right one. They’d rather make a decision and be wrong than suffer from the paralysis of indecision.

Leaders would rather make a decision and be wrong than suffer from the paralysis of indecision.
Are you accountable? When mistakes are made, followers are quick to blame circumstances and other people. Leaders, on the other hand, are quick to accept accountability for their actions. They don’t worry that admitting fault might make them look bad, because they know that shifting the blame would just make them look worse.

Are you unflappable? Followers often let obstacles and mishaps throw them off course. When something goes wrong, they assume the whole project is doomed. Leaders expect obstacles and love being challenged. They know that even the best-laid plans can run into unexpected problems, so they take problems in stride and stay the course.

Are you humble? Followers are always chasing glory. Leaders are humble. They don’t allow any authority they may have to make them feel that they are better than anyone else. As such, they don’t hesitate to jump in and do the dirty work when needed, and they won’t ask anyone to do anything they wouldn’t be willing to do themselves.

Are you passionate? Followers are trapped in the daily grind. They go to work and complete their tasks so that they can go home at the end of the day and resume their real lives. Leaders love what they do and see their work as an important part of—not a weak substitute for—real life. Their job isn’t just what they do; it’s an important part of who they are.

Are you motivated from within? Followers are only motivated by external factors: the next title, the next raise, the next gain in status. Leaders are internally motivated. They don’t work for status or possessions. They are motivated to excel because it’s who they are. True leaders keep pushing forward even when there’s no carrot dangling in front of them.

True leaders keep pushing forward even when there’s no carrot dangling in front of them.
Do you focus on titles? Followers care a lot about titles, both their own and those of the people they work with. They’re very conscious of who outranks whom, because they lack the skill and motivation to create leadership from within. Leaders, on the other hand, focus on what each individual brings to the table, regardless of what’s printed on a business card.

Are you focused on people? Followers focus on what they can achieve individually. Leaders are team players, because they know that greatness is a collective feat. A leader is only as good as what he or she can achieve through other people.

A leader is only as good as what he or she can achieve through other people.
Are you willing to learn? Leaders, while confident, know that they’re neither superhuman nor infallible. They’re not afraid to admit when they don’t know something, and they’re willing to learn from anyone who can teach them, whether that person is a subordinate, a peer, or a superior. Followers are too busy trying to prove they’re competent to learn anything from anyone else.

Bringing It All Together

Take another quick look at the questions above. There’s not a single one about title, position, or place on the org chart. That’s because you can have the title and position without being a leader.

You may have worked for someone who fits that description. And you probably have colleagues who serve in leadership roles without a title.

Leadership and followership are mindsets. They’re completely different ways of looking at the world. One is reactive, and the other is proactive. One is pessimistic; the other is optimistic. Where one sees a to-do list, the other sees possibilities.

So don’t wait for the title. Leadership isn’t something that anyone can give you—you have to earn it and claim it for yourself.


And please, share your thoughts on the topic in the comments section below as I learn just as much from you as you do from me.


Dr. Travis Bradberry is the award-winning co-author of the #1 bestselling book, Emotional Intelligence 2.0

Posted by Damian

Ken Ayere: The Nigentrepreneur!!!

Some time ago, i did a piece on this blog titled “I am a Nigerian”. The idea of the piece was to focus and highlight all things Nigeria. If you missed it check it out here.

There are so many things that make us unique and makes us who we are – a different breed, survivors above everything else.

I have been thinking about what next to do since then, but as a Nigerian living in “self imposed exile” in South Africa the plight of Nigerians in diaspora has always been at the fore of my thoughts and i have been wondering how i could bring value to this group. I always reached one conclusion – tell the story of the Nigerians doing great things in South Africa, blow our own horn if no one will do so. There are many and in many diverse fields, just name the field and you will find one of us excelling in it out here.

Why this route? Simple. Most of what we get is negative press; so bring the good story about Nigerians in South Africa to the public domain.

This is one of the many in the series that there will be.

I will try to find them and i will try to tell their stories and possibly in their own words. If you know the Nigerian heroes out there that you would like us to feature please let me know and i will make contact and arrange to tell their stories.

Your role as a Nigerian? Please share these stories so that the world will know what w are all about and how we are positively impacting on the society out here.

Ladies and gentlemen, i present to you Kenneth Ayere, Nigerian, journalist by training but an entrepreneur by birth. Ken is fondly called Chairman by many Nigerians because of all that he has done for the advancement of the Nigerian community in South Africa.

The interview was granted to Expatriate Magazine and was published December 6th, 2011; even though it was done 4 years ago most of what Ken had to say is still relevant today.


Illegal business does not make sense because the energy one dissipates in doing negative things is the same energy that is required to do something positive and achieve the same monetary rewards.”

If Nigerians are consummate business people, then Ken Ayere is as Nigerian as can possibly be. After numerous phone calls and various attempts to meet, we finally managed to squeeze ourselves into his busy schedule and get our questions answered.

Tell us about your background and how you ended up in South Africa.

I was posted to Johannesburg as the Southern Africa bureau chief of the state owned News Agency of Nigeria in 1996 and worked here for about four and a half years before returning to Nigeria.

During that period, I had given thought to owning a McDonald’s franchise and so I returned to South Africa in 2002 after having retired from journalism. The franchise opportunity did however not materialise and I instead purchased a Caltex garage in Krugersdorp in the West Rand which I have been running to date.

Is it difficult to operate a garage in that area?

Not at all. People frequently ask me that question particularly because it is a predominantly Afrikaans neighbourhood. I have never heard of any patron driving into a garage and enquiring as to the nationality of the owner before purchasing whatever number of litres of fuel they require. In business, as long as you are providing a good service at a fair price, people are rarely interested in finding out more. The same applies to all other business interests that my wife and I are pursuing.

What are these other business interests you are pursuing?

We own a 20 room guest lodge known as The Golden Rose in the Ferndale area of Randburg. We also run a chain of three Homebaze restaurants in Gauteng. These are eateries dedicated to serving African food in a respectable environment. Having travelled the world as a journalist, I noted that the establishments that serve authentic African food are almost always located in backstreets or other dodgy areas. Having traversed the continent and tasted food from all regions, I found this unacceptable and my wife and I embarked on setting up our first restaurant at Brightwater Commons in 2003. It took us a year to draw up the menu and for the first year she ran the kitchen herself.

What makes Homebaze different and why has it been successful?

The Homebaze menu is truly African. This is what has enabled us to expand to Village Walk Mall in Sandton and to Arcadia in Pretoria. We do not garnish any of our dishes simply because when you cook at home at your African kitchen you don’t make sadza in the shape of Africa and put flowers around it. We don’t really have competitors because other restaurants that purport to deliver the African experience only do so in terms of the music and decor. They take advantage of those consumers who do not know African food by serving Mediterranean dishes and giving them names like ‘Serengeti’ or ‘Kilimanjaro’.

It has not been easy though. Some of the spices we use in our food are not available at the local supermarkets and have to be imported from West African villages. In addition, it is difficult to cook some foods like chapati which we have outsourced to a Kenyan lady. In fact, our 67 members of staff are drawn from different parts of Africa.


What plans do you have for Homebaze going forward?

We would like to take the brand national. It would be good to find people in other parts of the country who share the same vision and put some capital in their hands to open up branches there. The big companies today did not do it alone. They engaged others with similar interests. We are careful to find people who have the same passion as we wouldn’t want someone to come and ruin what years of sacrifice and commitment have built. We took a big risk in venturing into the untried area of establishing a classy African restaurant and breaking the mind-set that our food does not belong in up market areas.

With all these ventures, do you find time for anything else?

Yes I do. I have learnt how to delegate which enables me to manage my time and do many other things. I was recently heading the committee that organised the Nigerian achievement awards at Gallagher Estates attended by the then Nigerian President and the then Deputy President of SA. I am the leader of the men’s group at my church and also a founding member of SA’s Patriots Club of Nigeria. I am on the Board of Trustees of the SA-based Nigerian Union and the acting president of the Diaspora Organisation of Nigerians in South Africa. We have many different groups because we are a varied people with varied interests. Some may find it difficult to interact with the Nigerians based in Hillbrow for example. I am involved in an initiative to counsel those who are conducting illegal activities and ruining our reputation. We organise workshops where we explain that the same energy one dissipates in doing negative things is the same energy required to do something positive and achieve the same monetary rewards.

– Interviewed by Keith Kundai. 

6 Bad Entrepreneur Habits to Kick in 2015!!!

Bad Habits. We all have them. Entrepreneurs have some more than others.
New Year’s resolutions change and evolve as the year moves along. As people try to transition away from old habits and replace them with new ones, they need proper expectations. These transitions don’t happen overnight. Many experts recommend setting smaller goals as part of a regular pattern in which you work on change over an extended period of time.

Entrepreneurs often make their own resolutions as well. They think about the areas of their work that have come up short in the prior year, and they proceed to make changes. There are key bad habits entrepreneurs can fall into that don’t do their business any favors. For example, working too much is truly bad for your health, and it’s something many entrepreneurs struggle with. Are you committing one of these bad habits that you should ditch in 2015?

1. Taking on too many roles

The chances of you being an incredible manager, SEO guru, digital marketer, HR manager, and executive assistant all at once are slim to none. In the very early stages of a startup, when you truly can’t afford to hire or outsource for every position, everyone wears multiple hats. However, you will need to hire professionals for each position as soon as possible. Until then, you will struggle to do all those jobs well. People aren’t as good at multitasking as they think.

2. Micromanaging

You’ve finally given up doing everything yourself–or have you? Micromanaging is one of the worst habits of ineffective managers, as it can lead to a heavy amount of stress and even self-destruction. It’s not just annoying, but shows your employees you don’t trust them (or think they’re stupid). It also ultimately comes back to you doing everything, which is just not acceptable. If you need help to stop, hire a consultant.

3. Not taking one day off per week

There will be the rare exceptions when you work more than seven days straight, but that shouldn’t be the norm. Humans, including entrepreneurs, need to give their mind and body a break in order to recharge. If you work nonstop, you’re not producing your best work, and everyone from your employees to your customers will suffer.

4. Only chasing the money

Why are you working in the first place? It can’t be only for money. At least part of the reason must be passion. Once your startup finally makes a profit (it can take years), it’s easy to get caught up in the money game. Some figure out that they have potentially limitless earning potential–as long as they keep chugging away. Figure out how much your time is worth, how much money you reasonably want to make each year, and a feasible number of hours to work each week based on those things.

5. Depending too much on friends

It sounded like a great idea to hire your buddies when you first started, but they’re probably not the best choices for each position. You need to hire the most qualified applicants and move forward on the basis of what’s best for the company if you want to still be around in five years (and that is, of course, not guaranteed either). This doesn’t mean you have to hire people you can’t stand, but it does mean there’s no room for hiring friends.

6. Not separating work and personal life

This is somewhat related to not taking a day off. It is very easy for entrepreneurs to commit an offense in this area. How many of you don’t see checking your work email before going to bed as “working”? This actually has a strong impact on your sleeping habits and therefore your overall effectiveness at work. Most sleep experts recommend no interaction with electronic devices for two to three hours before going to bed.

All of this can be a huge challenge for some entrepreneurs to tackle, but you need to closely examine your on/off switch when it comes to work. This might mean not syncing your work email to your personal phone (or disabling it at certain times of the day).

There are plenty of good habits to nurture, but those bad ones tend to sneak in. If you want to grow your business, and yourself, in 2015, it’s time to take a critical look at what isn’t working for you. As an entrepreneur, it’s natural to think of your startup as your baby and dote on it. However, spend too much time, energy, and attention on any one thing and all else will suffer for it. Keep in mind, making such changes does not happen overnight. Be reasonable in your expectations, and don’t be surprised if you struggle. Just keep fighting.

By John Boitnott
Journalist and Digital Consultant@jboitnott
Published by Inc.

Nigerian Billionaire Tony Elumelu’s $100 Million Entrepreneurship Program Goes Live On Online Portal!!!

“If you think that you can be Africa’s Steve Jobs, then 2015 is the year for you to start the journey,” said Nigerian billionaire and revered business leader, Tony Elumelu in a video message announcing the official opening of his $100 million pan-African entrepreneurship initiative, the Tony Elumelu Foundation Entrepreneurship Program (TEEP). The highly anticipated program went live at the stroke of midnight West Africa Time (WAT) today. Following the billionaire investor’s announcement at the Tony Elumelu Foundation headquarters in Lagos, Nigeria, on December 1st of his pledge of $100 million towards creating 10,000 entrepreneurs across Africa over the next 10 years; the annual program, the first ambitious undertaking of its kind, was opened for business ideas submissions and entries from applicants across Africa via its online application portal, TEEP.

Mr. Tony Elumelu, Chairman, Heirs Holdings Limited & Founder, Tony Elumelu Foundation, Nigeria

The multi-year program provides training, seed capital and mentoring and is primarily designed to empower the next generation of African entrepreneurs because according to Mr. Elumelu, “the private sector in Africa and entrepreneurs in particular have an important role to play in the growth and transformation of the continent”. Additionally, the celebrated business leader said that through TEEP, there was a need “to relentlessly create and nurture African entrepreneurs” given the numerous challenges on the continent; “limited access to finance, electricity, and to the markets”. According to the press statement, the $100 million entrepreneurship program, endowed by the Tony Elumelu Foundation, an African-based, African-funded philanthropic organization, will identify and support 1,000 entrepreneurs from across the continent each year over the next decade. Overall, the 10,000 start-ups and young businesses selected from across Africa will ”enable Africa’s economies to compete globally in the 21st century,” said Mr. Elumelu, add $10 billion in annual revenues to Africa’s economy and ultimately create one million new jobs.

Citizens and legal residents of all 54 African countries are eligible and encouraged to apply to the program. “Since the Tony Elumelu Foundation Entrepreneurship Program was announced, we have been enthused by the level of interest and excitement from entrepreneurs across Africa. We are looking forward to reviewing the entries and identifying the first cohort of the continent’s next generation of business leaders,” Parminder Vir OBE, Director of Entrepreneurship, The Tony Elumelu Foundation said in a press statement. Applicants have until March 1st 2015 to submit their business ideas through the online portal and the qualifying submissions will be reviewed by the selection committee, whose members include some of Africa’s leading entrepreneurs and industry captains: Ory Okolloh, Director of Investments, Omidyar Network’s Government; Monica Musonda, CEO, Java Foods; Mariéme Jamme, CEO, Spotone Global Solutions; Dr Wiebe Boer, CEO, The Tony Elumelu Foundation.

During the launch, Mr. Elumelu, who debuted as a billionaire this year on the FORBES list of Africa’s 50 Richest, spoke of his personal commitment to empowering African entrepreneurship and said that the program was “far more than a funding initiative or networking opportunity.” Mr. Elumelu, who holds Commander of the Order of Nigeria (CON), a Nigerian national honor, also added that it was “an act of faith in our entrepreneurs and our young people to transform our continent; to be the engine for the creation of both economic and social wealth, putting into practice what I have called Africapitalism.”

By: Farai Gundan

Additional details about the program, including the application process, eligibility, requirements and selection process are available on the Tony Elumelu Foundation website at:

Should I Start My Own Business?


Should I Start My Own Business?SEXPAND


Dear Lifehacker,
I’m tired of the rat race and have been dreaming about starting my own business for some time. Having never done this before, though, I’m nervous about taking the plunge. How can I tell if starting my company is really a good idea or if it’ll be doomed to failure? 

Bitten by the Business Bug

Dear Bitten,
Starting your company could be one of the best decisions you ever make—one that leads to independence, great control over your destiny, and possibly big rewards. It seems there’s no better time than the present, too, as we’re in the midst of a great entrepreneurial boom, with more than 500,000 new businesses started in the US every month. However, there’s no doubt running your own business is both challenging and risky. So before you invest your time and life savings into your business idea, it’s important to fully understand what it takes to be a successful business owner.

Don’t worry, you don’t need an MBA or even any previous business experience to get started. Armed with research and a lot of self-knowledge, you can make this difficult decision. Here’s what you should consider before you take that leap from employee to entrepreneur.

Consider the Pros and Cons of Working for Yourself

The first big question you’ll need to answer is whether the benefits of being your own boss truly outweigh the disadvantages.

Pros: The pros are pretty obvious, since they’re the reasons millions of people dream about ditching their conventional jobs. Your reasons for starting a business should include several of these motivations, rather than, say, just doing it for the money opportunity:

  • You can make a living doing what you love (or at least what interests you)

  • You’re in control of every aspect of your work life, from when you work to where and with whom

  • You can choose which clients to work with and which projects or what kinds of business to go after

  • You might find better work/life balance and can even work with your family (although that’s a whole other situation)

  • You may get things done faster and better when you’re free from office politics and red tape

  • You have a chance to earn more than you would working for someone else. The money you have been making for others now shifts to yourself.

  • You’ll have greater job security. That might sound counter-intuitive, but business owners typically have multiple clients, which lessens the pain if you lose one of them. Employees, on the other hand, have only one “client,” their employer.

  • You build something that’s all your own, which gives you a great sense of accomplishment and also life purpose.

Cons: There’s a flip side to every coin. Which of the disadvantages below will really trouble you?

  • You’ll have to deal with an uncertain income and possible cash flow problems (“feast or famine” describes it pretty well).

  • Finances overall will be more complicated (hello crazy tax laws!). Also, if you want to get a mortgage or other loan, banks will look at you differently and you’ll have to meet higher criteria.

  • You have to be a self-starter every single day you work.

  • You have to do everything yourself (or hire someone to help you). “Everything” includes: managing the business’ finances, marketing your products or services, organizing paperwork, dealing with lawyers, and chasing clients for money owed to you.

  • If you want them, you now have to pony up for the paid benefits you once got as an employee. These benefits can be very expensive, especially health insurance or even taking a vacation. (Business owners learn the true meaning of “time is money” when they try to take time off.)

  • You may be more likely to overwork and burn out.

  • You’re exposed to the same problems that trouble those who work from home: isolation, pressure, and loneliness.

  • All of this can be much more stressful than working for someone else.

The good news is most of these disadvantages can be minimized or overcome. For example, you can use a budget strategy for managing irregular income, look into affordable health insurance you can buy yourself, and set your rates to account for things like time of.

Make Sure You Have What Every Successful Business Needs: A Good Idea and a Market

Should I Start My Own Business?

If you’re not completely turned off by the reality check above, that’s great. You might just have the tenacity needed to start your own business. However, besides your resolve, you’ll also need two very important things to start a successful business: a good idea and people who can be convinced to buy into it.

Is it a good idea? Your business idea doesn’t have to be mind-blowing. It just has to be good enough to build a business around, whether your plan is to start a dog poop-scooping service or sell homemade jam. Loic Le Meur, founder and CEO of LeWeb conference, says not to look for the idea of your life or a revolutionary one, offering this example:

When Brian Chesky and Joe Gebbia founded AirBNB, they had no idea it would become the largest threat to the hotel industry with 250,000 rooms in 30,000 cities. All they wanted was to make some quick cash to help pay their rent and decided to rent an extra room.

There is no way of knowing what will be revolutionary until the first users start to love it and tell their friends.

Vet your idea with your friends, your social networks, and anyone else who will listen, because the most important thing is not whether you think it’s a good idea (most people who start businesses think theirs is), but whether other people think it’s a good idea.

Is there a market for it? The million dollar question is: Would people actually buy it? Where and who are your potential customers? Try taking your idea to ten prospective customers and see how many would buy your product or service. You could also set up a small website or take out a few ads to test the waters for interest.

A few market research tools can also help you figure out if you’re creating something people really want. Use Google Insights, Google KeyWord Tool, and Google Search to check out trends related to your idea and scope out the competition. The US Bureau of Census, Small Business Administration’s Business Data & Statistics page, and CEOExpress research portal also offer helpful information.

In short, the only critical thing you need to start a business is something to sell that people will buy. With that in place, you could even start a business for $100 or less.

Find Out If You Have the Most Important Characteristics for Entrepreneurship

Should I Start My Own Business?

We’ve previously discussed in detail how to create a business plan, which will help you plan the nitty gritty details of your pending business. Beyond those logistics, though, owning your own business also requires a certain mindset and entrepreneurial spirit.P

Many studies conducted over the past few decades have identified that separate a successful entrepreneur from unsuccessful ones. MIT’s Jeffrey Timmons and colleagues, for example, identified the personal traits and the behaviors entrepreneurs need, including:P

  • drive and energy

  • self-confidence

  • high initiative and personal responsibility

  • internal locus of control

  • tolerance of ambiguity

  • low fear of failure

  • moderate risk taking

  • long-term involvement

  • money as a measure not merely an end

  • use of feedback

  • continuous pragmatic problem solving

  • use of resources

  • self-imposed standards

  • clear goal setting

Some of these are intrinsic qualities (e.g., low fear of failure and drive/energy), while others are behaviors that can be developed (e.g., use of feedback and resources). Remember all those “cons” to starting your own business? If you have these personal traits, you’re more likely to overcome them.

If you’re the quiz type, this quiz from Forbes can help you find out if you’re a “born entrepreneur,” based on Thomas Harrison’s exploration of signature entrepreneurial traits. Entrepreneur also offers a entrepreneur personality test.

Most importantly, be honest with yourself about your capabilities and patterns. If you’re the type of person who’s always misplacing paperwork or missing deadlines, starting a business probably isn’t right for you. Many years ago, I ran a side business reselling web hosting space and domain name services. Although it was mildly profitable, it never grew because I really dislike doing sales and the administrative overhead was more effort than I wanted to put into the business, since I wasn’t all that passionate about it. Really consider how much you’re willing to put into your company and whether you have the stomach to play all the roles required to keep it going.

Start Small

Remember, you don’t have to jump in with both feet. Many successful businesses today were started part-time, in someone’s basement or garage. With a few strategies, you might even be able to start your own business during your leftover time at work.

Keep in mind, however, that working full-time during the day and on your business in the off hours can be taxing, and your business might be more successful if you focus more fully on it. When you get to the point where you’ve built up a significant emergency reserve (e.g., one or two years’ salary) or have gained several steady clients or many customers, you may be ready to kiss your boss goodbye.

Finally, know how you’ll handle the tough times and when to call it quits. Passion for whatever it is you’re starting is essential, because it is what will push you forward through the tough circumstances.

And just to be realistic, you should also plan for possible failure. A significant number of new businesses do fail (most commonly due to poor management and lack of planning), but failure still can be the highway to success.

Hopefully, though, the preparation you do will set your business up for success if you decide to go for it. Good luck!


Photo by Delluacescomm .