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Thrills, Chills, and Spills of the Entrepreneur Journey

Thrills, Chills, and Spills of the Entrepreneur Journey

Thrills, Chills, and Spills of the Entrepreneur Journey

An Entrepreneur Journey is not the Roller Coaster Ride of an Amusement Park

by Gary Rushin, CPA | CGMA

Operating a business is not like enjoying an amusement park. The thrills, chills, and spills are real for an entrepreneur. Keep in mind, the pain from entrepreneurial spills can and will happen. Also, the rewards from entrepreneurial thrills can make your journey worth it.

As an entrepreneur, you want to succeed. When putting your blood, sweat, and tears into starting and running your business only to learn all the obstacles and the things you do not know, entrepreneurial success is not easy. However, you’re going to succeed to enjoy the fruits of your labor. How? By understanding the fundamentals of business.

Over the years, I have worked with many entrepreneurs, small and large, from professional organizations and family-owned businesses to “mom and pop” enterprises. It is entirely self-evident that entrepreneurs must understand the fundamental truth of starting and operating a business.

Let’s start with the fundamental truth, the foundation: An effective business is a unified system of interdependent parts amounting into a cohesive organization or scheme…integrating processes, procedures, employees, customers, and management. This combined system, your business, represents you, the entrepreneur. If the company is not operating with the thrills you desire, look at the parts you put together. Ask yourself, is one or more components broken or misaligned affecting the whole?

As the business is a reflection of you, it is how you craft the company or system that often dictates the profitability or failure of the organization. Think about the proverb, "the fish stinks first at the head.” The saying is true in business. The number one reason that a company fails is management. Management refuses to recognize that a problem exists, or management does not take action to mitigate or solve the problem. Well, entrepreneur, you are the head, "management."

Understand that you just do not own the business. You are the business. You are engaged in commerce wanting a money-making, idea-generating machine. Craving to feel the thrills, the chills, and spills of the entrepreneur journey, the astute entrepreneur takes steps to follow the fundamentals. Take a look at just three of Michael Gerber’s, 10-Guiding Principles for Startups, which also applies to all businesses:

The Systems: You must recognize that a small business is a System, which all parts contribute to your success or failure as a whole. Everything must work together from your employees to the owner; from the equipment to your resources; from the procedures to your processes.

Sustainability: Your business must be dynamic meaning must able to thrive through all economic conditions. Key to survival, the company must operate in all markets and provide meaningful, highly differentiated results to your customers.

Scalability: Your business must be scalable to be successful. You must have the ability to right-size the company based on market conditions, from growing the business to meet customer demand to downsize the company in the event a catastrophic incident takes place.

Are you a missionary or are you a mercenary? As an entrepreneur, go into business to create something. Money should not be the primary motivator or goal. A limiting goal can prove excruciatingly frustrating, especially in the early stage. And it won’t justify the vigor and grit required. Start a business because you’re passionate about your idea and the value you believe you can create.

Finally, as an entrepreneur, you must embrace adaptability. If your first plan fails, adopt another strategy. And if that plan fails, choose another approach. Develop a Plan A, a Plan B, and even a Plan C. Building a business requires patience. Understanding your company is not going to take off in one day. You will have to adapt and embrace change. Taking corrective action is a necessary move you must make to achieve success.

GARY S. RUSHIN, CPA | CGMA 

Gary Rushin is an American thought leader in the areas of entrepreneurial wealth creation.  His business foundation started in international commercial and investment banking and corporate bankruptcy and restructurings.  Gary has global experience in the U.S., China, Ghana and India.  Gary’s leveraged his strong understanding business, processes, technology, accounting and finance, and business development to advise organizations.  Gary is a Certified Public Accountant and Chartered Global Management Accountant.  In addition to holding a Bachelors of Business Administration, Gary has a Masters of Computer Science where has emphasized artificial intelligence and software development. Whether you have a start-up, retail store, technology firm, manufacturer, and service company, Gary can help you.

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What is Strategy? It starts with the Kernel

What is Strategy? It Starts with the Kernel

Mastering Business Success

by Gary Rushin, CPA | CGMA

Entrepreneurs must understand what strategy is. Think about it. Operating haphazardly without comprehending what it is is like driving a vehicle what knowing the destination or knowing the locations of hazards. YOU WILL CRASH.

What do we mean by strategy? Many what answer, “Strategy is whatever you want it to mean.” Unfortunately, today it is a catchall word. Every executive uses the word strategy from “service strategy,” “acquisition strategy,” “branding strategy,” “competitive strategy,” or whatever strategy one has in mind. But for those who think through the meaning of strategy, whether it is a CEO of an established firm, division president, or entrepreneur, strategy integrates an overarching concept of how the business will achieve its objectives. Accordingly, it is an action supported by argument, a mixture of thought and works with a basic underlying structure.

Too often many draw on Porter’s Five Forces Analysis to think of strategy as a matter of selecting industries and segments within them. Others dwell in game theoretical frameworks as a set of choices about confronting with adversaries and allies. When adding in core competencies, hyper-competitiveness, value chains, and other powerful tools, what is missing is the hub…strategy. And let us not be fooled that a strategy consists of a template outlining a mission statement, a vision statement, and financial projections to make up the strategy. AGAIN, YOU WILL CRASH.

Let us step back and look at strategy. The kernel of strategy, the central core of good strategy, consists of three elements: 1) a diagnosis, 2) a guiding policy, and 3) a set of coherent actions. You must define or explain the nature of the challenge, which is the diagnostics of the issues. In dealing with the task, design a guiding policy that is an overall approach to coping with or overcoming the identified obstacles. Finally, a set of coherent actions in carrying out the guiding policy in steps that coordinate with one another to meet the objectives. Otherwise is get bad strategy.

So many companies have multiple goals and initiatives that do not have a coherent approach to achieve progress, other than spending more and trying harder to fail. This was the case of Apple Computer before the return of Steve Jobs. Under Gil Amelio, Apple had multiple goals and initiatives through four business groups: Macintosh, printers and peripherals, information appliances, and alternative platforms. Apple was hemorrhaging cash. Steve Jobs retrenched Apple to a single goal and initiative by simplifying the company to its core competency. The move staved off Apple from falling into bankruptcy. Apple was shrunk to scale and scope, as a niche producer, with one line of Macintosh computers. Steve Jobs had to develop the kernel first to combat the obstacles the company faced.

GARY S. RUSHIN, CPA | CGMA 

Gary Rushin is an American thought leader in the areas of entrepreneurial wealth creation.  His business foundation started in international commercial and investment banking and corporate bankruptcy and restructurings.  Gary has global experience in the U.S., China, Ghana and India.  Gary’s leveraged his strong understanding business, processes, technology, accounting and finance, and business development to advise organizations.  Gary is a Certified Public Accountant and Chartered Global Management Accountant.  In addition to holding a Bachelors of Business Administration, Gary has a Masters of Computer Science where has emphasized artificial intelligence and software development. Whether you have a start-up, retail store, technology firm, manufacturer, and service company, Gary can help you.

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Learning from Failure

Astute entrepreneurs master business success

by Gary Rushin, CPA | CGMA

It is not your fault that the company is failing.   You recognized that there is a problem and took action.  But the problem does not go away.  The company is still drifting in the wrong direction--downward.  And, we have read about the business successes in blogs, books, papers, and general business readings.  We have done everything right; We have read about business successes; We have studied the successful business icons of today.  Coupled with the fact that we have followed the learning paths recommended by most business schools.  However, we need to learn about business failure.  Yes, failure!  Studying business failure should be a "best-practice" of entrepreneurs and business management.

Once I had mentioned at a business forum that I need to study “failure.” The look I received was of shock and puzzlement.  Why would you want to master failure and not the successes of entrepreneurs like Steve Jobs?  Apparently, they missed the point.  Yes, studying the achievements of Steve Jobs is important, but equally significant is to master failures of start-ups and mature companies to identify missteps, symptoms, causes, and the reasons organizations came and went.  Remember Steve Jobs studied the business failure of Apples’ previous management led by John Scully upon his return to Apple. One tried not to make the same mistakes twice.  Understanding how to move past corporate failure will breed productivity and success.

Look at the current state of the retail sector.  It is under siege.  The bankruptcies of Sears Canada, RadioShack, The Limited, HH Gregg, Payless Shoes, Perfumia, Gymboree, Gander Mountain, and Toys R Us give pause to look at these failures.  Some would call it the “Amazon Affect,” whereas others say that management failed to stay abreast of the changing market dynamics and technology in executing their strategic moves.  

Think about it, NASA studied its mistakes to make corrections with the space shuttle program. Pharmaceutical companies and financial services companies reviewed how product design failure take place to make improvements, and hospitals study their service offering to improve the quality of healthcare service. Even if you are an Internet marketing professional preparing for a new product launch, a successful-companies create value for shareholders, customers, and other constituents from learning from business failure.

Know how the destruction of business value will make you a better entrepreneur, investor, and stakeholder.  Yes, the studying the phenomenon of business failure can create value, a return on investment, by understanding the fundamental causes behind enterprise breakdown.  Naturally, in situations where the average person's decision dictates turning "right," your knowledge of past mistakes compels you to move to the "left."  Some will criticize this decision.  But they do not know that your instinct to rely on past mistakes guide you to a more comforting decision move.  Mastering business failure before starting the business strategy process will enable you to avoid common missteps.

Business failure does not end in bankruptcy liquidation.  In the event a company declines in value and is considered worthless, the enterprise failed from the perspective of the owner.  However, the business or the assets of the firm in the hands of others may result in the re-creation of value, jobs, and new business in the eyes of customers, suppliers, and employees.

When discussing business failure, I mean that the company has fallen short of its goals, thus failing to satisfy investors’ expectations.   Business failure involves the loss of capital and the inability to make the business successful.  With the fall in revenues and the rise in expenses, the company cannot continue to operate under ownership and management.

GARY S. RUSHIN, CPA | CGMA 

Gary Rushin is an American thought leader in the areas of entrepreneurial wealth creation.  His business foundation started in international commercial and investment banking and corporate bankruptcy and restructurings.  Gary has global experience in the U.S., China, Ghana and India.  Gary’s leveraged his strong understanding business, processes, technology, accounting and finance, and business development to advise organizations.  Gary is a Certified Public Accountant and Chartered Global Management Accountant.  In addition to holding a Bachelors of Business Administration, Gary has a Masters of Computer Science where has emphasized artificial intelligence and software development. Whether you have a start-up, retail store, technology firm, manufacturer, and service company, Gary can help you.

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