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Business Start Up Tips From Some Hearty Entrepreneurs

When’s the last time someone asked you: “What’s new?”
If you’re starting or growing a business, an e-business, or a web site, the answer is: “Everything!” – especially on the inside.

Face it, launching a new enterprise – or taking it to the next level – can sometimes feel scary and overwhelming. Where do you begin? How do you begin? And do you have what it takes?

Granted. We’ve heard about the classic stages of starting a successful business – like Plan, Launch, and Grow. We’ve heard about the latest web promotion buzzwords – like Stickiness, Link Popularity, and RSS Feeds. Yes, these are important, but let’s start at the heart of the matter. My objective is to help you begin your business by focusing on the inner shifts that accompany committing ourselves to any new business venture – the “hearty” changes that we’re unable to see directly, but that happen just the same.

I write these words from my 20 years of experience helping entrepreneurs start all types of businesses – both traditional and online – and having discussions with them about their entrepreneurial lives, about their inner achievements. What has it been like for them? What have they learned? What has worked for them, and what hasn’t?

The essence is this: Though the outward steps of launching a business may vary from person to person, if you’re willing to look closer, you’ll see that the process you go through on the inside will trigger all the deep changes in your life that are truly your own, that you’ve been waiting and wanting to happen all along.

The nature and truth of these inner changes – and their effects – cannot adequately be put into words. My clients tell me that these changes don’t move in logical ways. They are subtle, sometimes masked, even from our self. We see the outward advances – the sign going up, the website being launched, and the first client being won – however the deep, subterranean realizations that occur when we launch a new enterprise (that sometimes seem to emerge “out of the blue”), end up affecting the success of our business far more than any genius business plan or enlightened promotional strategy ever will. So, it’s up to us – to be prepared for as much transformation as we will allow, personally and professionally.

Here are a few “hearty” Start Up Tips I’ve learned and experienced firsthand from my clients. I hope they will help you as you shift and as you shape your new business:

“Be as you are”

I used to think that appearing confident and fearless regardless of what I was feeling inside was what it took to succeed in business. “Be strong and in control. Never let them see you cry or sweat” is what we are told. Or, at least that’s the way I heard it. I believe what that advice amounted to was this: “Be two people. Appear as a competent person in business at any cost” (even though you know all too well that you are sometimes unsure of yourself and make mistakes). I bought into this lie, hook, line, and sinker (or maybe that should read stinker?).

The truth: a straight-forward approach – warts and all – works better every time. Be as you are. It takes the pressure off and keeps your ego in the right place, while at the same time it makes it crystal clear to others whether you can meet their need from the very start. No hype. Nothing hidden. A few laughs. They can make a decision faster and feel confident in doing business with you because what they see is what they get. They can trust what’s real.

And likewise, the clarity and inner confidence that come from being as you are will guide the right actions for your business as well. They will be your light. They will set you going in the right direction and will provide the ready fuel to keep you going – and growing. The spirit of your business will sustain you.

“Humility precedes confidence”

Right up there with transparent living is humility. For most of my life, my take on “humility” was that it meant being “weak” or “less than” in the eyes of others – descriptions that seemed the very opposite of how an “entrepreneur” was supposed to act. But, the more I experience, the more I see that taking a humble, realistic approach as we start any business is essential. Humility is not a demure personality trait; it’s part of living our humanity.

I’ve been blessed to work with many humble people. You know, it’s ironic that taking a humble approach to business will, more than anything else I’ve observed, have a positive, dramatic affect on your personal confidence and motivation, and your ability to communicate well – to reach people where they are. I’ve also learned that I can be confident and humble at the same time, as long as my humility precedes my confidence, as long as I keep the notion that I am no more or less than anyone else ever present.

“A chance to help others”

So, my clients say: “See your idea – your new business – for what it is. Simply a way for you to create a living that helps others.” That’s it. That’s all. That’s everything. You have talents and gifts. You want to do something that seems natural and personally fulfilling. So be it. At the same time, there are people out there that need what you have to offer. This same equation of life and work is true for everyone. None of us are any more special, while at the same time all of us are capable of wonderful things.

“It’s always personal”

Business is always between just two people – it’s always inter-personal, even if your client is a huge company, you’re still communicating with a person. Today’s emphasis on the one-to-one nature of the Internet has always been the case in business, it’s just easier to see it illuminated on the web. Bringing your real skills (and person) in contact with another’s real need (and person) is the simple essence of meaningful business.

“Go with your heart”

So, we challenge you. Clearly define the parameters of your business upfront – what you will and will not initially offer. And, know your true values and limitations – what you cannot and will not do. Get these things out of your mind and commit them to paper – and re-commit yourself to your business each time you re-read them. Build it as you see it. Ask for others’ input and gain the professional help you need to succeed but go with what’s in your heart, with what moves you. When you go with what charges you up, you’ll have built-in confidence because you’ll be offering what is you. You’re not trying to make others see your business for anything but what it is. You’re not having to psych yourself up all the time. What a relief!

“Be like an open container”

They also tell me: “Wear life as a loose garment.” Be like an open container as you run your business. Be contained in terms of being focused, yet always remain open, in terms of being observant and flexible. You will create the map – your business plan – but without fail know that your map must change as you use it. That’s the way it is. As entrepreneurs, we can grow to love the fact that our world and business will change constantly. By saying alert, by consciously observing, by asking ourselves how we can best respond to these changes, we allow our business to take on its own life – a life we don’t need to “try” to push or “think through” all the time in order for it to maintain momentum.

“Challenges enliven your business”

And finally, their advice: Remain poised to creatively meet the challenges in front of you. They will appear, and you can benefit from them. They may appear as opportunities. “Oh boy!?” Or, they may appear as hurdles. “Oh, no!?” It’s all in how we see them and the actions we take as a result. We can label the very same thing as ” a blessing” or an “opportunity,” or we can label it as a “problem” or a “roadblock. However, refusing to accept what lies in front of us – just because it is different from what we had envisioned – prevents us from the very thing that will drive our business: change and growth.

“Hope and energy abound everywhere. Surprises are rampant.”

Remembering this daily, and living from my heart daily – is often the greatest challenge for me, and for my clients. It’s the challenge of perceiving my changing path and my changing relationship with others clearly and consistently, and allowing the spirit of change – the spirit of my business – to propel me forward, without grasping for it, without losing my focus.

Batting Cage Business – Making Profits With the Swing of a Bat

There is a Batting Cages Business for those people who love baseball and/or softball. This business will make you a profit and will help raise the self-esteem of the children who come to your facility. Batting Cage complexes are popping up all over the world.

A Batting Cages Business requires conviction on the part of the business owner. There is just as much or more work for the person wanting to open the batting facility before the grand opening. Many things must be researched, and obtained.

The first thing you should do, is contact your local and state government to find out what requirements and regulations your Batting Cages Business will need to comply with and follow. You will probably need a business license, a sales tax license, insurance and possibly other inspections and licenses. However, by knowing this you will know that this is definitely the right business.

Once you have this information, you can decide if you really want to go to the next phase, the Batting Cages Business business plan. This will be a requirement for several reasons. You will need a business plan to get financing, decide on the services you will provide at your facility, make sure you have all required paperwork, and ensure that you have not forgotten anything. It will also help you price everything out to open, and help you set a budget for your business.

You can find many documents to help you prepare a Batting Cages Business business plan and financial statement at the Small business administration website. This web site should become your best friend. It can help answer questions regarding business, get you in touch with mentors to help you, help with financing, and make sure that you are on track during the start up process and the future.

Another option is to work with a business consultant to prepare your business plan. However, this can be expensive and may take just as long as you doing it yourself. The sample business plan on the Small Business Administration will help you do the exact same thing as a business consultant. Plus, by doing the footwork on your own, it will give you a sense of the monetary value your venture will entail, and will better help you establish the operating budget.

While creating your business plan, you should consider whether you want to purchase the Batting Cages Business franchise or build one on your own. You will want to research the pros and cons. The advantage of a franchise is that you purchase the name, support, training, and equipment. The only other thing you have to purchase is the location. You also get their marketing and expertise in the industry.

If you decide to build your Batting Cages Business from the ground up, you will be required to purchase the location, and all the equipment. It is not impossible, but you will have to get the name out into the public and build credibility. You will also probably have a time where you are learning about the business through trial and error, which can produce losses of income or customers, depending on how you set your prices.

It is usually a little more expensive to purchase the franchise at the beginning, but the advantages usually outweigh this problem. Depending on your location, it may actually be cheaper to buy a franchise. You need to consider all your options, and doing this while creating your Batting Cages Business business plan. It is also during this time that you will need to decide on a location for your business.

You have made your decision, have a promising location in mind, and you have your business plan completed. You will now need to get financing. You will need to create a proposal explaining the advantages of your Batting Cages Business venture and show your business plan. You can try to get financing through private individuals, banks, or the Small Business Administration. If you don’t get financing right away, don’t get discouraged. Look over your proposal and business plan, make changes if needed and keep trying. You will eventually get the funding you need.

Once you have financing you can purchase the location, and start building your Batting Cages Business facilities. However, this doesn’t mean that you are done. You need to constantly update your business plan, it should be considered a dynamic document. You will also need to subscribe to newsletters, and periodicals, check new books and web sites to keep on top of the industry.

Enjoy your venture and look at the smiling faces of the people coming to your facility to know it was all worth it.

Business Intelligence & Data Warehousing in a Business Perspective

Business Intelligence

Business Intelligence has become a very important activity in the business arena irrespective of the domain due to the fact that managers need to analyze comprehensively in order to face the challenges.

Data sourcing, data analysing, extracting the correct information for a given criteria, assessing the risks and finally supporting the decision making process are the main components of BI.

In a business perspective, core stakeholders need to be well aware of all the above stages and be crystal clear on expectations. The person, who is being assigned with the role of Business Analyst (BA) for the BI initiative either from the BI solution providers’ side or the company itself, needs to take the full responsibility on assuring that all the above steps are correctly being carried out, in a way that it would ultimately give the business the expected leverage. The management, who will be the users of the BI solution, and the business stakeholders, need to communicate with the BA correctly and elaborately on their expectations and help him throughout the process.

Data sourcing is an initial yet crucial step that would have a direct impact on the system where extracting information from multiple sources of data has to be carried out. The data may be on text documents such as memos, reports, email messages, and it may be on the formats such as photographs, images, sounds, and they can be on more computer oriented sources like databases, formatted tables, web pages and URL lists. The key to data sourcing is to obtain the information in electronic form. Therefore, typically scanners, digital cameras, database queries, web searches, computer file access etc, would play significant roles. In a business perspective, emphasis should be placed on the identification of the correct relevant data sources, the granularity of the data to be extracted, possibility of data being extracted from identified sources and the confirmation that only correct and accurate data is extracted and passed on to the data analysis stage of the BI process.
Business oriented stake holders guided by the BA need to put in lot of thought during the analyzing stage as well, which is the second phase. Synthesizing useful knowledge from collections of data should be done in an analytical way using the in-depth business knowledge whilst estimating current trends, integrating and summarizing disparate information, validating models of understanding, and predicting missing information or future trends. This process of data analysis is also called data mining or knowledge discovery. Probability theory, statistical analysis methods, operational research and artificial intelligence are the tools to be used within this stage. It is not expected that business oriented stake holders (including the BA) are experts of all the above theoretical concepts and application methodologies, but they need to be able to guide the relevant resources in order to achieve the ultimate expectations of BI, which they know best.

Identifying relevant criteria, conditions and parameters of report generation is solely based on business requirements, which need to be well communicated by the users and correctly captured by the BA. Ultimately, correct decision support will be facilitated through the BI initiative and it aims to provide warnings on important events, such as takeovers, market changes, and poor staff performance, so that preventative steps could be taken. It seeks to help analyze and make better business decisions, to improve sales or customer satisfaction or staff morale. It presents the information that manager’s need, as and when they need it.

In a business sense, BI should go several steps forward bypassing the mere conventional reporting, which should explain “what has happened?” through baseline metrics. The value addition will be higher if it can produce descriptive metrics, which will explain “why has it happened?” and the value added to the business will be much higher if predictive metrics could be provided to explain “what will happen?” Therefore, when providing a BI solution, it is important to think in these additional value adding lines.

Data warehousing

In the context of BI, data warehousing (DW) is also a critical resource to be implemented to maximize the effectiveness of the BI process. BI and DW are two terminologies that go in line. It has come to a level where a true BI system is ineffective without a powerful DW, in order to understand the reality behind this statement, it’s important to have an insight in to what DW really is.

A data warehouse is one large data store for the business in concern which has integrated, time variant, non volatile collection of data in support of management’s decision making process. It will mainly have transactional data which would facilitate effective querying, analyzing and report generation, which in turn would give the management the required level of information for the decision making.

The reasons to have BI together with DW

At this point, it should be made clear why a BI tool is more effective with a powerful DW. To query, analyze and generate worthy reports, the systems should have information available. Importantly, transactional information such as sales data, human resources data etc. are available normally in different applications of the enterprise, which would obviously be physically held in different databases. Therefore, data is not at one particular place, hence making it very difficult to generate intelligent information. The level of reports expected today, are not merely independent for each department, but managers today want to analyze data and relationships across the enterprise so that their BI process is effective. Therefore, having data coming from all the sources to one location in the form of a data warehouse is crucial for the success of the BI initiative. In a business viewpoint, this message should be passed and sold to the managements of enterprises so that they understand the value of the investment. Once invested, its gains could be achieved over several years, in turn marking a high ROI.

Investment costs for a DW in the short term may look quite high, but it’s important to re-iterate that the gains are much higher and it will span over many years to come. It also reduces future development cost since with the DW any requested report or view could be easily facilitated. However, it is important to find the right business sponsor for the project. He or she needs to communicate regularly with executives to ensure that they understand the value of what’s being built. Business sponsors need to be decisive, take an enterprise-wide perspective and have the authority to enforce their decisions.

Process

Implementation of a DW itself overlaps with some phases of the above explained BI process and it’s important to note that in a process standpoint, DW falls in to the first few phases of the entire BI initiative. Gaining highly valuable information out of DW is the latter part of the BI process. This can be done in many ways. DW can be used as the data repository of application servers that run decision support systems, management Information Systems, Expert systems etc., through them, intelligent information could be achieved. But one of the latest strategies is to build cubes out of the DW and allow users to analyze data in multiple dimensions, and also provide with powerful analytical supporting such as drill down information in to granular levels. Cube is a concept that is different to the traditional relational 2-dimensional tabular view, and it has multiple dimensions, allowing a manager to analyze data based on multiple factors, and not just two factors. On the other hand, it allows the user to select whatever the dimension he wish to choose for analyzing purposes and not be limited by one fixed view of data, which is called as slice & dice in DW terminology.

BI for a serious enterprise is not just a phase of a computerization process, but it is one of the major strategies behind the entire organizational drivers. Therefore management should sit down and build up a BI strategy for the company and identify the information they require in each business direction within the enterprise. Given this, BA needs to analyze the organizational data sources in order to build up the most effective DW which would help the strategized BI process.

High level Ideas on Implementation

At the heart of the data warehousing process is the extract, transform, and load (ETL) process. Implementation of this merely is a technical concern but it’s a business concern to make sure it is designed in such a way that it ultimately helps to satisfy the business requirements. This process is responsible for connecting to and extracting data from one or more transactional systems (source systems), transforming it according to the business rules defined through the business objectives, and loading it into the all important data model. It is at this point where data quality should be gained. Of the many responsibilities of the data warehouse, the ETL process represents a significant portion of all the moving parts of the warehousing process.

Creation of a powerful DW depends on the correctness of data modeling, which is the responsibility of the database architect of the project, but BA needs to play a pivotal role providing him with correct data sources, data requirements and most importantly business dimensions. Business Dimensional modeling is a special method used for DW projects and this normally should be carried out by the BA and from there onwards technical experts should take up the work. Dimensions are perspectives specific to a business that could be used for analysis purposes. As an example, for a sales database, the dimensions could include Product, Time, Store, etc. Obviously these dimensions differ from one business to another and hence for each DW initiative those dimensions should be correctly identified and that could be very well done by a person who has experience in the DW domain and understands the business as well, making it apparent that DW BA is the person responsible.

Each of the identified dimensions would be turned in to a dimension table at the implementation phase, and the objective of the above explained ETL process is to fill up these dimension tables, which in turn will be taken to the level of the DW after performing some more database activities based on a strong underlying data model. Implementation details are not important for a business stakeholder but being aware of high level process to this level is important so that they are also on the same pitch as that of the developers and can confirm that developers are actually doing what they are supposed to do and would ultimately deliver what they are supposed to deliver.

Security is also vital in this regard, since this entire effort deals with highly sensitive information and identification of access right to specific people to specific information should be correctly identified and captured at the requirements analysis stage.

Advantages

There are so many advantages of BI system. More presentation of analytics directly to the customer or supply chain partner will be possible. Customer scores, customer campaigns and new product bundles can all be produced from analytic structures resulting in high customer retention and creation of unique products. More collaboration within information can be achieved from effective BI. Rather than middle managers getting great reports and making their own areas look good, information will be conveyed into other functions and rapidly shared to create collaborative decisions increasing the efficiency and accuracy. The return on human capital will be greatly increased.

Managers at all levels will save their time on data analysis, and hence saving money for the enterprise, as the time of managers is equal to money in a financial perspective. Since powerful BI would enable monitoring internal processes of the enterprises more closely and allow making them more efficient, the overall success of the organization would automatically grow. All these would help to derive a high ROI on BI together with a strong DW. It is a common experience to notice very high ROI figures on such implementations, and it is also important to note that there are many non-measurable gains whilst we consider most of the measurable gains for the ROI calculation. However, at a stage where it is intended to take the management buy-in for the BI initiative, it’s important to convert all the non measurable gains in to monitory values as much as possible, for example, saving of managers time can be converted in to a monitory value using his compensation.