By Guest Blogger Frank Abbruzzese
It’s exciting times for entrepreneurs of all ages to take their idea and build their dream and business. Over the years I have enjoyed mentoring and listening to business plans and ideas on how great minded-people were going to bring value and fill gaps where needed.
Thru the 27 years of being part of the Technology Sector, I have run across many successful business people sharing new ideas, building new businesses and have run across many young or first time entrepreneurs.
The encouragement I offer to all entrepreneurs is to never, ever, let anyone kill your passion about an idea you strongly believe in. Read that line again. It is important to stay focused, energized and positive. You will meet three kinds of people along your journey in building your dream: bobble-heads, nay-sayers and those that care to help and ask questions.
Bobble-Heads are those around you who simply agree with you and say yes to everything you share with them. Be careful as they do care, however, they are being polite because they are not able to offer you any help except support. Support is good and you will find it necessary at times.
Nay-sayers are more common and they do take a lot of energy from you. Simple answer: stay away from nay-sayers. Move along to someone else. No one needs the negativity. If they shoot down your idea, ask for valid reasons/proof why. The nay-sayers I refer to are those that simply say no and are negative. We all have them and important to avoid them when building your company.
THOSE THAT CARE
Those that care. Here is your best group of people to surround yourself with. We are fortunate in Windsor-Essex Region to have the majority of people who do care and who do want to help. We also have a lot of organizations that care and provide a lot of resources. When you first start out with your idea, you may not be aware of all of these people, organizations and resources. Make an effort to ask around and you will be pleasantly surprised at what you find.
I have mentored, coached and worked with entrepreneurs thru AlphaKOR, WEtech, University of Windsor/EPICentre, St. Clair College and WindsorEssex Small Business Centre. I also have had mentors, coaches and business associates who have helped me over the years.
There are a number things you should prepare when first meeting with someone to share your idea. Bring at least a draft of your business plan outlining your ideas. There are a lot of templates online and find one that seems to fit with your personality. Know your market segment as in how large, who are the players, what is missing in the market and so forth. Ask your resources about market studies to bring qualified data sources to your business plan. Know your numbers: what is your break-even point, what is your revenue model, what are your costs and so forth.
Think about your company structure if it is a partnership, corporation, who is the owner or who are the owners. Have a company name in mind. Look at an accountant, lawyer and banker sooner than later. Be ready, be serious, be focused and you will find people will open up and help. It is OK to say you do not know how to do something and that is why you are seeking assistance and advice.
When presentation your idea, remember this important rule: not everyone is as passionate as you and not everyone understands the depth of your idea. Short answer is to keep it at a high level for everyone to understand. Stay away from technical terms in your market segment and stay away from acronyms. Most outside your field will be lost quickly. Balance this with a short summary of your credentials, expertise and experience. Don’t show off with all the lingo, unless you are talking direct to a peer in your industry.
I present very high-end technically advanced solutions in English terms, sometimes with pictures where it applies and talk about concepts and ideas instead of “speeds” and “feeds”. For example, a file server has memory, processor and hard drive. I use terms such as “horsepower” and “storage” to get the point across instead of “Gigahertz” and “Terrabytes”. The specifications are included in the presentation, however, I do not dwell on them unless it applies or if the person asks to go over them.
Overall, be positive, focused, have a little fun with your idea as you can change the world if it is embraced. Take the criticism and candid feedback. Do not get defensive or justify. People who care and want to help will not sugar-coat it all the time. We have a desire to seek feedback, however, we sometimes do have a difficult time when it is not what we want to hear. Adjust your plans, presentations and your message and keep at it.
Frank Abbruzzese is President of AlphaKOR Group, a full service technology solutions firm in Windsor and is also the Chair of the Board for WEtech Alliance.