Daily Archives: February 23, 2009

What I learned in the trenches

Veterans-turned-entrepreneurs offer advice

After 13 years in the Marine Corps, Brian Iglesias was ready to embark on a dream career in filmmaking. Prepared to pay his dues, he worked the phones, sent e-mails, and paid visits. But all he ran into were dead ends. “Not too long ago I was leading over 225 Marines in landslide relief operations in the Philippines,” he says. But “I had to beg people to let me intern. Only my friends were willing to give me work.”

Frustrated, Iglesias decided to start his own company and turned to one of a growing number of programs that help soldiers become entrepreneurs. He enrolled in the intensive 14-month Entrepreneurship Bootcamp for Veterans with Disabilities (Iglesias has a metal plate fused in his neck), offered for free to service-disabled veterans at Syracuse, Florida State, UCLA, Texas A&M, and Purdue. Started by James M. Haynie, an Air Force vet turned business school professor …more at What I Learned in the Trenches – BusinessWeek, published on 10 February 2009.

Flickr photo credit: stroopwafels

By | February 23, 2009|Blog, Entrepreneurship|0 Comments

Cutting startup costs

When big initial costs make it hard to start your business, look further into the figures—they may not be as scary as they seem

As a startup wedding and event photographer, I made a list of all everything I need to purchase for my business, and it literally scared me. Between investing in equipment, software, Web site design, and advertising, my projected income is much less than my necessary expenses for this company. Photography has been my life’s passion, and I really want to succeed. Is there any advice you can offer me? —M.M., Chicago

Fear often stems from lack of understanding. Delving into the financial details of your venture should clear up your confusion and give you confidence to proceed—or perhaps persuade you that your business model is flawed and needs to be overhauled or scrapped.

You’ll need to consider both your startup expenditures and your operating costs, since the latter will help determine how quickly you can pay back the former. There are many ways to save on startup costs …Cutting Startup Costs – BusinessWeek, published 10 February 2009.

Flickr photo credit: tk yeoh

By | February 23, 2009|Administration & Finance, Blog|0 Comments

It’s not who your customers are, it’s how they behave

Wow. I’m humbled by the commentary from my first post. I hope I can maintain such passionate interest!

Businesses cannot exist without customers, so it’s sadly ironic that many, if not most, businesses, actually understand so little about them. As a company grows, a smaller and smaller percentage of the staff interacts with the customers. In fact, those folks on the “front line” (think call centers, service counters, retail stores) are typically among the lowest-paid and have the least authority.

Meanwhile, back at headquarters fundamental decisions are made with extremely limited information about customers. There, understanding the customer is often considered someone else’s responsibility, because, “we have a department for that.” No department has a complete view of the customer, however, and so in place of true understanding are models and frameworks that attempt to describe the customer. Many companies don’t go beyond demographics and market segmentation. While it’s helpful to know how they break down by age, sex, income, region, and other easily measurable characteristics, there’s actually very little you can actually do with that information. In order to become customer experience-driven, you need to go beyond who your customers are, and understand what they do. …more at It’s Not Who Your Customers Are, It’s How They Behave – Peter Merholz – HarvardBusiness.org, published on 11 February 2009

Flickr photo credit: Roger B.

By | February 23, 2009|Blog, Small Business|0 Comments