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The Risks and Rewards of Going into Business for Yourself

The Risks and Rewards of Going into Business for Yourself

No one would deny that starting a new business is fraught with risks, but given the uncertainty involved why is it that the US sees over 500,000 new business starts every year? After launching and running several successful businesses, along with my fair share of duds, I’m confident in my explanation. Despite the potential pitfalls, entrepreneurs launch new ventures because the benefits can be equally if not more significant than the chances that something might go wrong.

Nonetheless, it’s up to everyone to decide whether the rewards outweigh the risks of going into business for yourself.

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Risks Associated with Starting a New Venture

Again, there numerous risks associated with starting a business. Here are five of the most common ones to consider before jumping in feet first.

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  1. Long and Erratic Hours. Whether you’re adequately funded and staffed or not, as a new business owner you can expect to put in many more hours than you would at a 9 to 5. In fact, you’ll probably work more hours than anyone else in your company and with good reason–entrepreneurs wear many hats. Plus, at the end of the day when all is said and done, as the business owner, the buck stops with you. So, the moment you start your new venture you’re signing up for long and often erratic hours.
  2. Many Ruffled Feathers. Again, long and unpredictable hours are often commonplace when starting a business. So, as you might imagine the hectic schedules that often come with entering a new venture often leaves little opportunity to cultivate what matters most–relationships. Hence, family and friends can often find themselves on the short end of the stick when you begin your new venture; therefore, it’s important to build breaks into your schedule because if you don’t force yourself to stop and smell the roses, it won’t happen.
  3. Unforeseen Changes in the Market Environment. Sometimes as entrepreneurs, we start businesses oblivious to massive shifts that are occurring all around us. Many of which could easily have the potential to negatively impact your new business concern. For example, I’ve seen so many sink tens of thousands into new storefronts only to be told by local authorities – after the fact – that upcoming zoning laws will require them to make expensive renovations to ‘stay within code’ or close their doors. Of course, you can sometimes offset these types of scenarios by performing your due diligence. Nonetheless, there are some changes that you just won’t see coming no matter how much planning and preparation you do, which is why you must factor a certain degree of the unknown into all that you do as a business owner.
  4. Lack of Management Experience. There is a notion that I’ve seen among many new entrepreneurs that if they hire good managers, the owner’s lack of management experience won’t matter. Unfortunately, as many find out this is often not the case because without the requisite experience, how will you be able to identify whether your managers are making mistakes. This inability to distinguish between wise or poor business decisions is why many business experts recommend that entrepreneurs take on management positions for someone else before striking out on their own.
  5. Potential for Financial Loss. Running a business requires careful budgeting and financial management. However, the problem with many entrepreneurs is that we tend to start businesses without understanding key management functions, like how to forecast profits and losses or create financial reports.

Our lack of financial know-how is often compounded by the fact that many new businesses start before they’ve had an opportunity to secure adequate funding. Hence, it’s not uncommon to see new business owners scrambling to find odd jobs to make ends meet. One way to avoid severe cash shortages is to set aside six to twelve months of personal expenses before starting your business.

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Rewards of Starting a New Business

While there are vast challenges that come with starting your own business, the rewards can often make up for it.

  1. The Opportunity to Grow through New Challenges. One of the best things about being an entrepreneur is that you get to break away from the monotony of punching a clock and doing the same job duties, day in and out. As a business owner, you’ll face new challenges and tasks on a regular basis. In fact, it is rare that you’ll do the same thing two days in a row! And the best part of performing new activities on a regular basis is that it gives you the opportunity to grow and learn, which will ultimately help you become a better business person.
  2. You Get to Surround Yourself with Great Folks. Let’s face it, as nice as it is to earn a steady paycheck, a 9 to 5 certainly has its drawbacks. Perhaps chief among them is having to work in an environment, not of your choosing. Doing so means that you have zero say in who you will work alongside. Hence, a common complaint among those who choose to work for someone else is that they can’t get along with their supervisor or other co-workers. However, when you’re the boss you get to choose the folks that you work with, and if it turns out that you hired someone that’s hard to get along with, you have the option of letting them go.
  3. Chart Your Own Course. The ability to determine the success or failure of your business is a big draw for many entrepreneurs. In fact, many business owners cite this as their sole reason for going into business. Given that entrepreneurship tends to attract those with a take charge mentality, the business arena is a great place to go if you enjoy making weighty decisions.
  4. A Flexible Schedule. Although we often associate entrepreneurship with long and unpredictable hours, there is another side to it. Running a new business sometimes gives you more flexibility than you’d have as a full-time employee. For example, many business owners have more time to travel and participate in volunteer than full-timers.
  5. Financial Potential. There are many different motivations for doing one thing or another. For instance, some are motivated by helping others, while others find motivation in facing new challenges. But whatever helps you wake up in the morning, it’s difficult to overlook the hefty financial rewards that could await those who can successfully manage business risks. As a business owner, you’re usually only one deal away from reaping huge financial dividends.

There you have it, the most common risks and rewards of starting a business. Learn how to mitigate them, and you’ll be well on your way to big things in the business arena. Here’s to entrepreneurial success!

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Last Updated on February 11, 2021

10 Secrets of Making Every Presentation Fun, Engaging, and Enjoyable

10 Secrets of Making Every Presentation Fun, Engaging, and Enjoyable

Not a lot of people are good at public speaking. You could even say that virtually everyone needs to get some practice, and preferably good guidance, before they can learn to stay calm when facing a room full of people. Having all eyes on you is an uncomfortable experience and it takes time to get used to. However, even if you can manage to control your stage fright and stay focused, it doesn’t necessarily mean that your presentation won’t put people to sleep. This is usually the case with long presentations on a very dull subject, with the presenter speaking in a monotone voice and dimming the lights to play a PowerPoint presentation.

You have to work hard to develop the right skills

If you want to be remembered and actually get people engaged, you need to make your presentation fun and enjoyable, without coming off as corny or desperate to please. I know, it doesn’t sound that easy at all! A good presentation during a promotional event or given to an important client can be a game changer for your business, so it is easy to get stressed out and fail to perform all that well. Luckily, giving an interesting lecture is something that can be practiced and perfected. There is plenty of advice out there on the topic, but let’s look at the most important aspects of giving a memorable and fun presentation.

1. Make your presentation short and sweet

With very long, meandering speeches you tend to lose the audience pretty early on, and from then on out it’s just a test of endurance for the few bravest listeners. Not only will people’s attention start to drop rapidly after sitting and listening to you talk for 30 minutes, but you also risk watering down your core ideas and leaving your audience with little in the way of key phrases and important bits of information to take away from the whole ordeal. Famous speakers throughout history have known the importance of condensing the information by using well thought out sentences and short phrases loaded with meaning.

JFK’s famous: ”It’s not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country,” expresses so much in very few words and gets the audience thinking. Ancient Spartans, for example were famous for their quick, dry wit, often demolishing their opponent’s argument with a single word or phrase. You’ll want to channel that ancient spirit and be as concise as possible when preparing your presentation.

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2. Open up with a good ice breaker

At the beginning, you are new to the audience. There is no rapport, no trust and the atmosphere is fairly neutral. Even if some of the people there know you personally, the concept of you as an authority on a particular matter giving a speech will be foreign to them. The best way to encourage a warm and friendly atmosphere is to get some kind of emotional response out of the audience right at the beginning. It doesn’t matter what emotion it is, you just need to connect with them on a more personal level. It can be shock, curiosity, laughter, knowing smirks, nervousness – whatever gets them out of that initial feeling of indifference. There are different kinds of effective ice-breakers, but generally speaking, the most successful ones utilize one of these tactics:

  • Joking
  • Tugging on their heart strings
  • Dropping a bombastic statement
  • Telling an interesting and relevant anecdote
  • Using a metaphor or drawing comparisons

You can make a small, self-deprecating comment, stir the presentation one way and then suddenly surprise the audience, use sarcasm, open up with a short childhood story that taught you a lesson, quote a famous person and elaborate on it from personal experience, use an inspirational anecdote or hit them with a bit of nostalgia. Just remember to keep it short and move on once you’ve gotten a reaction.

3. Keep things simple and to the point

Once you’re done warming up the crowd you can ease them into the core concepts and important ideas that you will be presenting. Keep the same presentation style thoughout. If you’ve started off a bit ironic, using dry wit, you can’t just jump into a boring monologue. If you’ve started off with a bang, telling a couple of great little jokes and getting the crowd riled up, you have to keep them happy by throwing in little jokes here and there and being generally positive and energetic during the presentation. You need a certain structure that you won’t deviate too far from at any point. A good game plan consists of several important points that need to be addressed efficiently. This means moving on from one point to another in a logical manner, coming to a sound conclusion and making sure to accentuate the key information.

4. Use a healthy dose of humor

Some of the best speeches and presentations in the world, which have been heard and viewed by millions, all feature plenty of humor. No matter the subject, a great speaker will use natural charisma, humor and beautiful language to convey their points and get the crowd excited about what they are saying. A great example of building rapport with the audience through the use of humor is Barrack Obama talking about the government building Iron Man.

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It is silly and fun, and absolutely not something that you would expect from a man in a position of power speaking in such a serious setting – and it’s exactly why it works. The more serious the situation and the bigger the accent on proper social behavior, the harder your jokes will hit.

5. Try to tell a story instead of ranting

Some people can do all of the above things right and still manage to turn their short and fun little presentation into a chaotic mess of information. You don’t want your speech to look like you just threw a bunch of information in a blender in no particular order. To avoid rambling, create a strong structure. Start with the ice breaker, introduce the core concepts and your goals briefly, elaborate on the various points in a bit more detail, draw logical conclusions and leave your audience with a clear takeaway message. You want to flow naturally from one part to the next like you are telling a big story chapter by chapter.

6. Practice your delivery

Standing in front of the mirror and practicing a speech or presentation is a technique as old as mirrors – well, come to think of it, as old as human speech, since you can see yourself reflected in any clear and calm body of water – and that means that it is tried and true. The theory is incredibly simple, yet the real problem is actually putting in the effort day in and day out. Work on your posture, your tone of voice, accent, pauses between sentences and facial expressions. The most important thing is to talk slowly and loudly enough to be heard and understood clearly. Many famous speakers, such as Demosthenes and King George VI, overcame speech impediments through hard work.

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7. Move around and use your hands

Although you won’t instill confidence in your project if you are very jittery, moving around erratically, not knowing what to do with your hands and making fast movements, standing dead still can be just as bad. You shouldn’t be afraid to use your arms and hands when talking as it makes you seem more passionate and confident. The same goes for moving around and taking up some space. However, try to make slower, calculated and deliberate movements. You want your movements to seem powerful, yet effortless. You can achieve this through practice.

8. Engage the audience by making them relate

Sometimes you will lose the audience somewhat in techno-babble, numbers, graphs and abstract ideas. At that point it is important to reel them back in using some good, old-fashioned storytelling. Make comparisons to events from everyday life that most people are more than familiar with. By making things look simple, not only will you help your audience get a better understanding of the subject by enabling them to visualize the information more clearly, you will also draw a connection between you. After all, you are all just regular people with similar experience, you just happen to be performing different roles at the moment.

9. Use funny images in your slides

Although slides are not really necessary at all times, if you do need them to make your point and present your information more effectively, it’s best to liven them up. They say that facts aren’t always black and white, and your presentation should reflect this. Add a bit of color, make the information stand out and use an interesting animation to switch from slide to slide. You can use the slides to add some more humor, both in terms of the text and the images. An image that is used to elicit a positive response needs to be funny within the context of what you are discussing. For example, if you are discussing the topic of authority, an image of Eric Cartman from South Park in a police uniform, demanding that you respect his “authoritah,” is a nice way to have a bit of fun and lighten things up.

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10. End on a more serious note

When all is said and done you will want the audience to remember the core concepts and keep thinking about what you have said after the presentation is over. This is why you should let things naturally calm down and end with an important idea, quote or even a question. Plant a seed in their mind and make them think. Let us turn to Patrick Henry for a great way to end a speech: “Is life so dear or peace so sweet as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death.”

As you can see, there is quite a bit to learn when it comes to giving a good presentation, one that is both memorable and fun. Be sure to work on your skills tirelessly and follow in the footsteps of great orators.

Featured photo credit: Austin Distel via unsplash.com

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