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Have You Got What it Takes to be a Successful Entrepreneur?

StrategyDriven Entrepreneurship Article |Entrepreneurship| Have You Got What it Takes to be a Successful Entrepreneur?If you are starting a new venture, you are entering the heady world of entrepreneurship. Your focus will be on your business’s bottom line, and how you can exploit your chosen market to make it as healthy, buoyant and sustainable as possible.

Being a successful entrepreneur is more than being good with figures, it requires you to sometimes dig deep and challenge the status quo. Here are some key traits that successful entrepreneurs share, have you personally got what it takes?

Passion

This is perhaps the most influential trait of successful entrepreneurs. They live and breathe by their business’s mission statement to provide the products and services that they know the public need. Their success is built on their passion; they love what they do, and their passion is contagious, inspiring and motivating.

Work Ethic

Successful entrepreneurs are the people who have an exceptional work ethic. They are the first ones in the office and the last ones to leave. Even when they are out of the office, and having free time, they will be thinking about how to benefit their business venture, whether expanding their knowledge through research or mentally refining strategies to boost their business – the business is always at the forefront of their mind.

Resilience

During the lifecycle of every business, there will be decisions that paid off, and less fruitful ones. Successful entrepreneurs are not deflated by, what some would consider, failures. Rather they see challenges as a learning opportunity so that the next time the obstacle occurs, they can get over it and conquer.

Risk-taker

Successful entrepreneurs are prepared to take risks where other people may falter. They don’t take the safe and well-worn path. They’ll be the ones that bet on the outsider team rather than the safety of fixed odds sports betting but succeed because they know the market and the risks that they have taken are calculated and not reckless.

People skills

Excellent communication skills are a pre-requisite for the successful entrepreneur. They need to be able to sell their products or services to a target audience who are also in the sights of their competition. Consumers often base their purchasing decisions on the personality of the business that they are dealing with; the products and pricing may be similar to those of competitors.

However, strong people skills are not only important for attracting customers and clients, entrepreneurs also need to be able to surround themselves with a team who share their vision. This means that they need to be able to recruit the right people to drive their business forward and grow.

If you are embarking on the entrepreneurial journey or have already started a venture but have not yet achieved the success that you expected, think about whether you share any of these traits. People often say that entrepreneurs are born and not made, but that is not necessarily true. You have an opportunity to finely tune your character so that you too can adopt these traits so that you can make your business thrive. Good luck!

How to deal with cyber-attacks: publicly or privately?

StrategyDriven Risk Management Article | How to deal with cyber-attacks: publicly or privately?Cyber attacks spiked 164% in the first half of 2017, compared to the same period in 2016, entailing 918 disclosed breaches-according reports on broadcaster CNBC. Threats vary from sector to sector. Healthcare, for example, is more susceptible to crypto-locker ransomware like the infamous WannaCry.

Internet-connected consumer devices often fall prey to malware that shackles them to remotely controlled botnets such as Mirai. Varied though the threat may be, and staggering though these numbers are, the word disclosed highlights a central paradox: While transparency contributes to the overall fortification of cyber-security protocols and procedures, battening down the hatches presumably mitigates further financial risk.

Sure, a disclosure is immensely beneficial in terms of buttressing industrial safeguards, national and global security, and customer protection – not to mention mitigating the longer-term repercussions of an attack – but so too can disclosure exact lasting damage on a bottom line.

Fighting back

The nature, intent, and consequences of an attack notwithstanding, the way companies have responded to breaches is closely related to their designation: public or private. CFOs at public and private companies face different risks and pressures when it comes to cyber-security and disclosure, and exhibit divergent perspectives when it comes to preparation.

Broadly speaking, public company CFOs are more likely to outsource cyber-security to third-party firms, while private CFOs tend to invest in in-house IT teams. Regardless of who secures a company’s network, breaches are often known by CFOs before they are made public. By disclosing a breach, CFOs of publicly traded companies might trigger investor panic and sell-off, whereas private company CFOs risk irreparable harm to consumer and employee confidence.

On one hand, foreknowledge of pending disclosures can put unique pressure on public company executives, who often own considerable amounts of company stock. The ongoing federal investigation of three Equifax C-suite managers for insider trading arose due to alleged stock dumping prior to the revelation of the company’s catastrophic cyber-attack.
Equifax underscores the tension between a public corporation’s responsibility to its board, shareholders, and customers, and the financial implications of both the breach itself and legal requirements governing its reporting and remediation.

On the other, while private companies aren’t under the same legal obligations in terms of disclosure, and while the short-term consequences may be less impactful, these companies still face long-term pitfalls, such as lost trust and tarnished brands. Moreover, a medium-sized business may not have the capital or reserves to recover reputationally or financially after a major data breach the way a multinational corporation can.

Additionally, the moderate scale of many private companies sometimes instills a false sense of security. Middle-market businesses often assume they’ll be overlooked by attackers, whether due to a large number of similar companies, or a lack of enticing assets. After all, isn’t it the bigger fish that stockpile the type of data and info that hackers tend to target?

Be prepared

A lack of proper preparation only exacerbates the panic once an attack does occur. Attempting to deal with an attack on the down low can earn private enterprises a reputation as easy marks, and provoke subsequent attacks. Further, if the rearguard strategy backfires, or is exposed by the press, this can amplify the damage to a company’s brand and leadership, not to mention potential legal consequences if a court can prove negligence.

In terms of the bigger picture, the lack of reliable data pertaining to attacks on private companies leads to lopsided analysis regarding the multifaceted aims and motives driving these attacks, resulting in a sort of half-finished portrait of the threat landscape.

While cybersecurity prevention could be vastly improved by greater information sharing, some surveys of CSOs indicate that only one in seven attacks are reported to authorities. Alas, as it stands, adequate event modeling, and risk and security assessments, are being stymied by a lack of shared intel on private company breaches, effectively hampering the development of comprehensive prevention and management strategies.

This lack has precipitated the introduction of numerous cyber-security regulations around the world, and though the regulatory ecosystem is in a state of flux, the global trend is invariably toward greater transparency. CNBC notes that “governments around the world are introducing legislation which will force more companies to disclose data breaches,” a reach that already extends to private enterprises.

Regulatory environment

Both private and public companies are compelled to comply with local, national and global disclosure regulations, including Sarbanes-Oxley (SOX), the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPPA), and the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

The GDPR, which regulates the collection and storage of customer information and data, and can levy fines of up to €20 million, requires that private companies disclose if they have a footprint in Europe, or otherwise handle the information of European citizens.

In the US, Sarbanes-Oxley (SOX) indexes the responsibilities of both public and private companies, including rules pertaining to compliance with federal prosecutors, and criminal penalties. Further, HIPAA governs how any company, public or private, handles personal health information.

Though public companies, traditionally, may have shouldered an inordinate amount of the fallout from disclosure, this has left them better readied for the implementation of legislation designed to enforce transparency. Even more advantageous, public companies now have hard-won practice mitigating the financial risks and ramifications resulting from disclosure.

Private companies, by contrast, are less aware and agile in terms of prevention and response; protecting their brand, for example, or proactively communicating with clients. Simply put, having been in battle, public CFOs are stepping up and getting more involved with cyber-security, while private CFOs, hovering on the sidelines, appear far more circumspect.

Make no mistake: this problem is only getting worse. The situation could improve rapidly if execs from companies of all stripes and sizes shared details of attacks with the larger corporate community.

Whether you are a CFO of an international, publicly-traded conglomerate, or a mid-sized regional business, it is well within your portfolio to do everything possible to properly prepare for the threat. Engage with the board, secure funding for proper security controls, and encourage leadership to be forthcoming when not if, your company’s cyber attack occurs.


About the Author

Andrew Douthwaite has over 17 years of technology experience joining VirtualArmour in 2007 as a senior engineer. Now as Chief Technology Officer, Andrew focuses on leading growth in the managed security services business and ensuring VirtualArmour is a thought leader in the security industry.

How to Start a Business That’ll Succeed: A 10-Point Guide

StrategyDriven Starting Your Business Article | Starting a Business | How to Start a Business That'll Succeed A 10 Point GuideIt is only natural to worry about failure when starting a business. However, don’t let the fear stand in the way of what could be a profitable company, which could potentially change your life.
To set yourself up for success, you need to understand how to develop a strong business model and to avoid the potential pitfalls that could thwart your venture’s growth and profitability.
To kickstart your idea, here are 10 helpful points to help with starting a business that will succeed.

1. Find Your Passion

Never launch a business for the sole reason of making money. If an idea or industry doesn’t light a fire inside of you, then avoid it at all costs.
You will need to dedicate a significant amount of time and energy into building and maintaining a successful enterprise, so it’s critical to love what you do.
It is this passion that will help to push through setbacks, gain in-depth knowledge about the industry, and wake up every morning with the sole aim of growing your brand and acquiring new customers.

2. Gain Experience

A lack of experience could lead to a lack of success in your chosen industry. For example, if you have your heart set on opening your own restaurant, you must gain experience in the food industry.
You’ll need a solid understanding of the level of hard work, passion and commitment required to run a restaurant, as there is more to it than hiring a chef and marketing your venture.
Gaining experience will ultimately provide the tools you need to kickstart a successful restaurant or could prevent you from making a big mistake.

3. Earn a Business Degree

Aspiring entrepreneurs would be wise to earn a business degree, which will provide them with the in-depth knowledge and skills they need to run a small or large company.
There are now several superb degrees budding business owners can choose from. For example, you could embark on a Masters in Business Administration online, which will take 18 months to complete and you can customize the course to suit your needs. You could also study health management, operations management, global leadership, or supply chain & enterprise resource planning. It can prove invaluable for those hoping to start their own business in the near future.

4. Start Your Business While Employed

Don’t quit your day job because you have a great business idea. It could potentially take a long time until your new venture generates a profit.
A part or full-time job will keep money in your pocket while you’re developing your budding brand. Once your business considerably increases its profit margin, you should quit your career to focus on your new company.

5. Start Networking

You don’t need to wait until your business is officially up and running to start networking. Line up potential clients or customers by reaching out to individuals, brands and organizations. For instance, you can form connections via LinkedIn, ask professionals for advice, or attend local networking events or groups to develop strong relationships in your chosen industry.

6. Write a Strong Business Plan

A business plan will provide your new enterprise with a roadmap to success. It will provide your company with a direction, as you’ll need to set objectives, define strategies, and set targets to work towards. It can, therefore, prevent you from sinking your time and money into unnecessary areas of the business.
In addition to providing you with a sense of direction, the business plan can also help you communicate your vision to potential partners or investors, who could be integral to your company’s success.

To write a strong business plan, you’ll need to:

  • Perform market research
  • Feature detailed information about your marketing strategies
  • Identify your target audience
  • Determine potential obstacles
  • Feature realistic goals

7. Turn to the Professionals

The prospect of performing every internal task yourself might seem a little daunting, which is why you’ll be happy to know you don’t need to go it alone when running a new business. For example, unless you have experience in bookkeeping or accounting, you could outsource a professional accountant or bookkeeper, who could save you more money than they could cost you.
You also must not cut corners when writing contracts either, which could lead to potential legal and financial issues in the future. If you don’t have a law degree, hire a lawyer to write up a contract for you. Never perform tasks you’re not qualified to do, as it could lead to your company’s downfall.

8. A Financial Investment

Think carefully about how you will fund your business. If you don’t have money in a savings account to rely on, don’t expect to walk into a bank to secure a loan, as most traditional lenders don’t like new ideas.
They also are often only willing to work with entrepreneurs with a proven track record in business.
Rather than skimping on different areas of your business, which can inhibit your growth and damage your brand, you should consider the following financial options:

  • Approaching potential investors
  • Saving money out of your own pocket
  • Crowdfunding
  • A business loan from a lender or loved one
  • Refer to your business plan to estimate exactly how much money you’ll need to get your new business off the ground.

9. Develop a Cohesive Brand Identity

Mixed messages, different color schemes and varying tones of voice can lead to a confusing brand, which will indicate a lack of professionalism and attention to detail.
Your website, social media profiles, brochures, flyers and print ads should feature a consistent voice and message, which will help you to develop a standout brand that will convince your target audience to become a customer.

10. Choose Your Team Wisely

When the time comes for you to hire your first employees, you must ensure you build your team wisely. Not only must they have the appropriate skills and qualifications for a role, but they also should have a positive, hard-working attitude and their personality should complement your desired company culture.
As a result, you can create a strong, productive and passionate team, who will help your brand to grow from strength to strength throughout the years.

6 Characteristics of Successful Law Firms

StrategyDriven Entrepreneurship Article | Successful Business | 6 Characteristics of Successful Law FirmsWhat does it take for a law firm to be successful? Unfortunately, there is no single best way to answer this question. Success can be relative, and it can be pursued in several ways. That said, keep on reading the rest of this post and we’ll quickly list down some of the characteristics that are common in successful law firms.

1. They Provide Timely Services

The timeliness of the delivery of legal services is one of the most important things that will have an impact on the satisfaction of clients. This makes it important for firms to make sure that they can deliver the required outcomes as scheduled. To add, it will also help to use legal billing software to make sure that the invoices will be sent on time.

2. They Embrace Technology

Successful law firms do not hesitate to use technology for their benefit. They consider it as a necessity and not as a luxury. They train their people to embrace innovation instead of resisting them and sticking to conventional methods. A good example of using technology in a firm would be through using software like Rocket Matter, which can improve efficiency and productivity, such as for scheduling and billing.

3. They Put an Emphasis on Diversity

In one article published on the website of Thomson Reuters, it has been noted that diversity will be one of the key differentiators that can affect the success of law firms in the next five decades. This calls for the need to value gender equality in the workplace. Discrimination based on race will also have no place in the firm. In fact, a firm with women and minorities in their roster of lawyers will have a huge advantage in positioning their company.

4. They are Recognized in the Community

One of the easiest ways to measure the success of a law firm would be through how much it is recognized in the community. With this, it is also important for firms to do something that is meaningful for the community, such as having pro bono cases to help those who are unable to access high-quality legal services.

5. They Manage Talent Exceptionally

Like in other businesses, the people are the most important assets of a law firm, making it necessary to have robust talent management practices in place. Every client expects to be working with only top-notch people, so the firm should have the talent to meet these expectations. To add, the law firm must have an effective strategy in attracting and retaining top talent to be competitive.

6. They are the Best Place to Work

At the end of the day, the most important characteristic of successful law firms is that they gain a reputation as the best place to work. This way, they attract the best people to provide exceptional legal service. This is related to what has been mentioned above since this is critical in talent retention.

The success of a law firm is not an easy feat, especially considering how tough the competition is. However, with the things that have been mentioned above, it will be easier for providers of legal services to stand out and improve their bottom line.

Advice For Becoming A Better Entrepreneur

StrategyDriven Entrepreneurship Article | Entrepreneur | Advice For Becoming A Better EntrepreneurWhile it’s nice to be able to say that you’re an entrepreneur, it’s an even better feeling to be able to prove to others that you’re a successful business owner. Luckily, you can use the following advice to help you become a better leader and boss so that you can experience a bright and prosperous future.

It’s ultimately up to you and your responsibility to overcome any obstacles you’re facing and improve in areas where you’re falling short. Remain patient with yourself because you’re more likely to develop as time goes on and you gain more experience and expert knowledge of your field and business. Most importantly, follow your passion and try to have a little fun while you’re at it!

Admit to Your Weaknesses

Become a better entrepreneur by admitting to your weaknesses and what you don’t know. For example, you may realize you need a digital marketing plan in place but don’t know the best way to implement one. In this case, work with a company such as Webpresence.Digital that can help your business thrive online by increasing leads, boosting sales and building more brand awareness. It’s not always about being able to perform each task yourself, but knowing who to turn to that can help you achieve your goals.

Learn from Others

Be observant and willing to learn from and listen to others if you want to improve your abilities as an entrepreneur. Be thirsty to take in new information and open to hearing different approaches to solving problems. Find a mentor who you can turn to for input and will keep you on track when you’re unsure of how to proceed in the future. Commit to nurturing long-term business relationships with other professionals and customers as well.

Proactively Manage Your Finances

The financial health of your company is one area you aren’t going to want to ignore as an entrepreneur. You need to know that you’re running a stable company and don’t want to be continuously encountering surprises when it comes to your money. Be proactive about managing your finances by setting budgets and holding regular meetings to discuss the status of your business and your profits. If your schedule is full or you need assistance, hire an accountant or financial director who can help you keep your books in order.

Take Care of Yourself

Another piece of advice if you want to become a better entrepreneur is to take better care of yourself. Running a company is hard work and will require a lot of time and energy on your part. Put your health and well-being first, and you’ll likely find you’re more productive during the day and don’t feel as tired. A few tips include:

  • Following a schedule
  • Eating healthy meals
  • Exercising regularly
  • Managing your stress
  • Getting plenty of sleep

Be diligent about putting your needs first above all else, and you’ll find you’re a lot more pleasant to be around and can reach your goals quicker. While your business is important, so is making sure you have a lot of natural energy and aren’t always getting sick.