20 December

Just Ask

So often the big successes in business for me have come from me just asking.  What I mean by that is that is getting the courage together to approach a person about something is often the biggest obstacle you face as a business owner.  You would be amazed how easy it can be sometimes if you just ask.  If you have been good to people and thoughtful about the community you operate in, people want to help you.  For me this has proven to be true in the hardest times.  When money has been tight and things feel really hard some of the people I would have least expected to be helpful have delivered more than I expected, lent a helping hand or opened a door for my business.  Some of the most successful entrepreneurs I know are really good at asking.  I’ve been amazed at their boldness when they’ve asked me for something.  But to be honest, most often, I’m happy to give it to them.  This is what entrepreneurship is all about: relationships.  Relationships that matter and are mutually beneficial.  You have to remember this when things are good and hard.  You never know what people are going through and your kindness can make a big difference.  Everything in business is a two way street.

To Your Success,

-Zahra

This article is part of the blog series “The Days in the Life of an Entrepreneur.”

13 December

Step out of your comfort zone, this much

 I can’t tell you how often I watch entrepreneurs recede into their comfort zone the minute they are asked to go against the grain, think of their business as more than their immediate circumstance or just try something new. I don’t pretend that everyone’s comfort zone starts and ends at the same place. I know boldness comes easier to some than others. But if you think you are going to build a sustainable business by doing anything less than bold on a daily basis, you are wrong. It’s a choice that you have to make over and over again as an entrepreneur. One of the best sayings I have ever come across is “Discomfort is a sign of growth.” You have to be uncomfortable if you are growing. It’s just part of the territory. This journey we are all on makes us push our own boundaries and of those around us.  If you are asking people to trust you and buy your product/service, something they are not certain about, you better be willing to do the same all the time. It is really what makes the possibilities endless and the journey worthwhile.

To Your Success!

-Zahra

This post is part of “The Days in the Life of an Entrepreneur” series.

6 December

The Days in the Life of an Entrepreneur

Chasing Money

You hear time and time again in all the entrepreneurial blogs, quotes, guiding principles, etc. that you shouldn’t chase the money, chase the dream and the money will follow. Unfortunately, many would be entrepreneurs take that to mean they shouldn’t be focused on money at all.  Not true.  Money shouldn’t be your only goal or even your primary goal, but it has to be a goal.  Unlike some other goals, if you don’t achieve it, you will be out of business. Too often those who get that part end up only trying to high end markets because they think that is where the money is. But here’s the problem with the high end money.  What is considered luxury changes fast and furious and everything is eventually commoditized in that world. Yes, there is money to be made in those markets, but for how long?  Whatever you are doing make sure it is a sustainable business that can withstand the trials of time and change. As for me, I just like doing business with real people.

To Your Success!

-Zahra

15 February

Surround yourself with inspiring people

Throughout history, great producers have shown up in packs. From the paypal mafia to the impressionists in the 1800s and the beat poets of the 50s, it’s a very real trend.

The writer Austin Kleon refers to this as a ‘scenius’ and without a doubt there are some forming today that will be the greats that the world will talk about 50 or 100 years ago.

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29 March

Financing a New Business

There are a lot of options for financing a business, but none of them are easy.  I was rejected by every major bank before I took my plan to community lenders and was approved.  The process was painful.  They poked and prodded into every detail of my life and it took months.  In the end it was all worth it.  I had what I needed to build my space and get myself to breakeven. Investors are another increasingly popular option, but you have to be willing to give up control of your business. You have to decide what you can handle and know what the other party is looking for.  Whether you go with debt or equity financing you will be accountable to another party or parties.  My goal is to get to a point the business itself can finance its growth.  For most businesses this is the best option and will allow you to maintain your independence. For others you have to go after outside financing.  Just make sure you never lose sight of why you started the whole thing to begin with.

22 March

Cashflow

Cashflow is the lifeline of your business.  It’s not just about what you bring in and what you take out.  But, most importantly, it’s about when you do it.  I use my cash flow statement to know exactly where I stand and decide the next step of growth for my business.  My cash flow projections are my peace of mind.  Read More