The Ups and Downs of Running Your Own Business

running your own business

Freedom and control are common factors that motivate people to leave traditional employment to start a new business. If you yearn for the opportunity to be in charge, set your own hours and design your daily activities, prepare yourself for some of the harsh realities of finding entrepreneurial success. Here are a few key things to consider as you evaluate whether running your own business is the right move.

The Long Hours

True, you should be able to control your hours as a business owner. However, entrepreneurs who desire to generate revenue and profit work almost always work more hours than they had before. In fact, your business owns you, you don’t own your time. In a small business where you play a pivotal operational role, the amount of time and effort you put in directly impacts how much money you make. If you employ any staff, your work ethic sets the tone for the company. It is hard to earn the respect and dedication of your team if you clock in at 9:00 a.m., clock out at 5:00 p.m., and take a two-hour lunch break each day. This point is especially true in a start-up environment where you rely on workers to go above and beyond the traditional eight-hour day as well.

Problems Must Be Solved

You can’t control when problems arise that demand your attention. Sure, you have the freedom to pretend they don’t exist, or that someone else will handle them. However, your customers and employees will look to the boss during times of stress or uncertainty for an answer. If a major distributor experiences a delay, for instance, you may need to travel to reassure ensure a positive experience for your customers. Power outages, technology malfunctions, and equipment breakdowns are a few of the other problems that could demand attention and prevent you from getting to the golf course or the beach.

Money and Freedom Go Hand-in-Hand

Kevin O’Leary, of “Shark Tank” fame, often says, “Money equals freedom.” In his case, he has enough money to freely choose which companies and investments to spend his time on. In the case of a new business owner, true freedom typically only comes when you go through the pains and frustrations of building up a profitable enterprise. This process usually takes three to fours years, until your business can afford to pay you a regular salary. If you want the freedom to make decisions on how to spend your time, plan to work harder and smarter on your own than you would as an employee.

The Owner’s Job is Overwhelming

Many people leave employment to get out of a boring, monotonous position. The logic is that you can design your own activities and focus on a diverse mix of things you enjoy as a small-business owner. In reality, as start-up business, you are taking on 10-14 jobs at once, so you will often spend hours trying to figure out which task to take on first each business day. Making products, setting up your website, generating leads, shipping packages are among the common roles of a start-up owner. Until you build up your business, and can add staff, it is common to take on many tasks that you intend to get away from once you build up your business.

The rewards of running your own small business often far exceeds anything you could achieve as an employee. However, the process to earn those rewards are typically much harder than you thought. Plan to work hard for years, tackle major problems, and carry out many activities everyday without complaining.

Business Owner Photo via Shutterstock

This article, “The Ups and Downs of Running Your Own Business” was first published on Small Business Trends

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Waverly Labs Earpieces Translate Other Languages Almost Instantly

real-time translation earpiece

Real-time translation used to be the domain of human beings, but machine translation has evolved to the point it can now deliver highly accurate results instantly.

Watch this video that shows you how the new Pilot real-time translation earpiece works if you really want to be impressed:

Real-time Translation Earpiece

At first glance the Pilot looks like a small hearing aid, but it has been uniquely designed by Waverly Labs as the world’s first real-time translation earpiece. Using a combination of speech recognition, machine translation and voice synthesis, this tiny device takes the spoken words of one language and translates them to another one.

Real-time translation is being addressed by all the major tech companies, including Google, Microsoft, Apple and others. Skype Translator was announced last year offering six voice languages as well as 50 messaging languages. With globalization and today’s collaborative workforce environment, translation solutions are a critical piece of how we will be communicating.

So far, the only languages that are available for the Pilot include Latin or romance languages, such as English to Spanish, French, Italian, etc., which will be available this summer. The company said it is working on other languages, including East Asian, Hindi, Hebrew, Arabic, Slavic, African and others at a later date. These additional languages will be available for a premium fee, however, if you decide to buy the Pilot during the launch campaign, you will always receive the language packs for free.

The Pilot comes with two ear pieces and an app that seamlessly integrates with your smartphone to begin translating as soon as the conversation begins. With a delay of only a couple of seconds, this real-time translation earpiece will let you carry on a conversation in the language you have selected right away.

Currently the device only translates the conversation you are having with the person, but the company sees future versions working with your surroundings to eventually translate everything around you. Because the Pilot real-time translation earpiece uses machine learning, the company says it will continue to improve its accuracy and speed, thus reducing the couple of seconds of lag even more. The company also readily admits machine translation is not perfect and makes mistakes sometimes, but with increased usage the translation engine improves its performance.

The retail price for the Pilot is expected to be $249 to $299, but early bird customers can get limited quantities for $129, $149 and $179+ at different stages of launch. You can expect delivery as early as Christmas, but the company warns fulfilling orders could take until next spring.

Image: Waverly Labs

This article, “Waverly Labs Earpieces Translate Other Languages Almost Instantly” was first published on Small Business Trends

How to Be a Successful Entrepreneur While Being a Successful Parent

blend work and family

Being a parent isn’t easy. Being an entrepreneur isn’t a walk in the park either. But being both a parent and an entrepreneur can be enough to put in in non-stop therapy sessions.

Okay, maybe it’s not that bad. But it’s still a challenge, isn’t it?

You work hard to grow your business because you want to build a legacy you can leave to your children. At the same time, you’re trying to make sure you’re doing a good job of raising your children. Both take tons of work, and both are incredibly rewarding.

One of the two jobs in the world where you will encounter some of the most responsibility is being an entrepreneur and being a parent — and this of course goes double if you happen to be both. Think about it: Building a business can affect the lives of many people, and your success or failure can greatly influence the success and failure of your customers and employees.

Similarly, being a parent means you are helping to grow a little human being into a fully-functioning adult, and much of his good and bad habits will be a result of your influence.

No pressure, right?

But you don’t have to worry. It can be done! This article will provide you some tips on how to blend work and family even when you’re busy running your own business. 

How To Blend Work And Family Tips

Develop a Routine and Stick to It

Businesses, just like kids (and adults), do better when there is a daily pattern. The reason for this is that routine promotes habits, and habits save you time, willpower, and mental energy. That’s why you need to develop a daily routine.

For example, when was the last time you really thought about brushing your teeth? Did you fight yourself about it and procrastinate? Probably not. Chances are, you got up and didn’t even consciously make a choice to go to the bathroom, put toothpaste on your toothbrush, and brush your pearly whites.

Of course, not everything about business is routine — there are many times you will need to consciously brainstorm new and innovative ideas. Much of it, like life, will certainly be habitual once you get a good system going. Forming good habits will save you time and brain cells, and the best way to make those habits is by doing them at the same time every day as part of a routine.

Additionally, when you have habits and routines that govern your day, you will have a predictable schedule for when work is supposed to happen and when recreation is supposed to happen. This will make a distinct separation between “work mode” and “play mode,” which will help ensure that you don’t get burnt out. It’s about finding the right balance between your business and family life.

Life is also more predictable to children when there’s a routine. When you’re relatively new to the world, life can be confusing, and certainly having something constant in your life can be extremely helpful.  Having routines helps blend work and family.

Don’t Be Afraid to Get Help When Necessary

One of the best lessons that you can teach your children is that we can’t always do everything alone, and sometimes we need to ask for help. This includes you!

You may not always be able to take care of your business and your children at the same time. In order to accomplish both, you may need to hire some help.

There might be times when you need someone who can look after your kids when you have that important business meeting. If you don’t have a babysitter who can help, you can use a nanny agency. There’s nothing wrong with having somebody help you with the kids if you need it.

Of course you don’t want to overdo this. Your children still need their parent to raise them. It’s about finding the right balance and the best way to blend work and family.

Remember to Take Breaks

As cliché as this may sound, you can’t expect to get very far cutting down a tree without first taking some time to sharpen the saw. Taking breaks and having free time is what will enable you to feel renewed and be at peak performance in many areas of your life.

This means taking breaks both from your business and sometimes even from your children. Remember that being a parent can be hard work, and going directly from having to run a business during the day to having to care for a pack of youngsters in the evening can be exhausting without time off to relax.

Take some time to yourself. Do something purely for fun. You will need that time to recharge.

Also, make sure you’re getting enough sleep. This is something that many entrepreneurs ignore, but it’s so important. Getting the right amount of rest will actually make you far more productive.

Include Your Kids in the Businesses

You may pride yourself in being able to provide your kids with all their material needs, but you probably also know that the best gift of all is not material in the least: The best thing you can give a person early in life are the critical learning experiences that will set a good foundation for a productive life as an adult. Including your children in your business and teaching them how the economy works will give them a huge head start compared to most of their peers, and it will also give you an opportunity to bond and blend work and family.

Conclusion

Building a business while raising young people is no simple task, but hopefully these tips have helped you in some way and you might be inclined to incorporate them into your everyday life.

Mompreneur Photo via Shutterstock

This article, “How to Be a Successful Entrepreneur While Being a Successful Parent” was first published on Small Business Trends

How Entrepreneurs Pick a Target Market

pick a target market

As an entrepreneur, you haven’t got the time or money to pursue all customers in your market simultaneously. You need to pick a target market to go after. How should you do this?

Academic research and practitioner expertise suggests that you focus on five factors as you pick a target market.

How To Pick A Target Market

1. The intensity of the target market’s pain. As a general rule, it is easier to sell to people who describe having a pain rather than having a desire. That’s what I meant in by my column about selling pain killers not vitamins.

But not all pains are the same. There’s a slight headache and then there’s a migraine. The greater the pain a target market feels, the greater the odds that you can convince customers to buy a solution, and the faster that sales will occur.

2. The value of your solution as a pain killer for the target market. The better your solution fits the target market’s pain, the greater your chances of success. If your solution is a partial fix, your chances are less than if it is a complete remedy.

Here’s a good example of a founder doing this right. The company is called Passage. They provide a mobile box office and point of sale for seasonal businesses, specialty events and popup companies.

They have focused on these kinds of businesses first because their product is ideal for things like haunted houses, summer theater, wine and beer festivals, semi-pro sports, and so on. Passage offers a “made for me” experience, adding category-specific branding and features that make its purchasing system a better fit for customers than the plain vanilla alternatives offered by competitors. For instance, they sell to a lot of haunted houses because those venues will sell tickets if their purchasing systems show scary designs rather than a plain vanilla Eventbrite page.

Passage provides much quicker payment to event organizers — two business days — which appeals to small businesses that need their money very quickly.

Passage’s mobile box office is very easy to use, with a simple and quick set up and strong customer service. That’s valuable to company owners who haven’t got a strong background in technology.

3. Is your solution better than the competition’s for that target market? Rarely does one company offer a better solution than its competitors for all target markets. Consider Ferrari. They make a great car, but I have yet to see someone who knows a good place to install a car seat in one. Volvo is a much better choice for the family car market, despite the panache of the Italian sports car.

4. Can you make the sale? Here’s where reality is different than a business school class. If a target market is a perfect fit for you, but you can’t make the sale, it’s useless. So you need to consider whether you can reach the customers and whether they will buy from you right now. Entrepreneurs need to be realistic and go after target markets they can get before they run out of cash.

5. Is the market valuable? You also need to think about the value of the market. Is it large enough to be worth spending time getting to know or is it so small that you can’t recoup your cost of customizing to it? Is it shrinking so fast that it will be gone shortly? Could you make a profit selling to those customers or would your margins be razor thin? Ideally, the markets you target should be large, growing and offer you high margin customers.

Targets Photo via Shutterstock

This article, “How Entrepreneurs Pick a Target Market” was first published on Small Business Trends