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My Employer, My New World Teacher

My Employer, My New World Teacher

Last week Thursday, I challenged you to consider how you can best take advantage of our “New World” of learning opportunities. The possibilities waiting for you are extraordinary.

I asked you to reflect back on when you feel you have learned best, so you can rally together those lessons-learned about when you have been a great student. Think of that self-knowledge as a collection of the great learning behaviors you can turn into great habits; you do them without thinking about them anymore. Arming yourself with those great habits, you can continue to set a stage for your sequential and consequential learning. You can accomplish amazing things.

Now this week, I’d like you to imagine you are in a “New World” workplace, one which is managed with the aloha of a great manager. There, you would find a boss whose intention is to be your learning coach and mentor. How would you recognize that person? In both managing and mentoring you, they [he/she] will create an environment for learning while building a powerful partnership with you in eight different ways.

1. Desire to Learn
Learning will come up as a question the very first time you are interviewed. You’d be asked something like, “What was the last thing you learned about? Why was it important to you? What has your new knowledge done for you? How did you use it? Will you use it again? What do you want to learn about next? Why?”

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How would you answer those questions? Learning to love learning is a must in today’s New World, where personal learning spills into professional results by creating more intellectual capital, and New World bosses “get it.”

2. Intention to Question
The next set of questions they have for you will be something like these: “What have you learned about US so far? Why do you want to be here? What would you still like to know about us? What do you need to know, so that you can begin to make an impact here, helping us to continually improve and grow along with you?”

They want to know how inquisitive you are, and what you’re curious about, and yes, they want to know what you intend to deliver in earning your keep. They want to know how good you are at being the one to ask the questions, both because you have a need to know, and because you aren’t afraid to plainly state what you still must learn if the company is to evolve with you.

Are you comfortable asking those kinds of questions? Are you willing to admit what you don’t know? Are you willing to grow the company along with you?

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3. Talents and non-Talents
Let’s say you get the job. Your new boss will make it their priority to find out what you feel your strengths are, and they will set out to establish a baseline of where you’re starting from with them. Next, they will help you set some personal goals which systematically help you take your strengths from good to great. Third, they will watch how you work. They want to see how you naturally align your values with your habits, and how you instinctively make your weaknesses irrelevant. If you need help with those challenges, they will coach you, and offer you some alternatives.

Do you already know those things about yourself, and how your talents and non-talents affect your learning capacity? How do you learn more about the person you are, and the person you are meant to be?

4. Access to Knowledge
Next, your boss will seek to establish a fairly regular pattern of communication with you, understanding that your access to the knowledge they can provide you with is critically important to your success. They will assure you know about all the channels of information available to you. You will quickly get accustomed to being asked, “What else do you need to know? What’s next? When will you need it? Where have you started to look?” and you will start to develop a habit of always having those answers, those requests, ready for them.

Right now, with the work you are currently doing, and the mission you are currently steeped in delivering, what would your request for New World Knowledge be?

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5. What it Takes to Inspire
When it comes to skills, you will find that your new boss considers your task-related and industry-related skills the easy part, the givens, and the first 3-6 months kind of things. Skills training is certainly important, but it has become grade-school stuff. Beyond that time, skills training is something they will expect you to easily research and set your own next goals and new learning habits for. They themselves will seek to inspire you. They won’t ask you to deliver your best work, they’ll expect it. What they’ll ask you to deliver is inspired work.

So, when are you now inspired? What does it take to have you leaping out of bed in the morning, excited about the day ahead, and hoping that day will never end? Once you have learned a new skill, one that enhances one of your talents, what next action with it lights that fire in your spirit?

6. Relationships, Peers, and Community
Your boss will often talk to you about your professional relationships within the workplace and within your chosen industry, in regard to how you can learn from them, and learn to improve them. Their own relationship with you will be a model you can replicate with others. They understand that in our New World you will love learning collaboratively, and learn what’s most important for your own well-being within your associations with other people. They will take it for granted that what is personal for you is professional, and what is professional for you is personal, understanding the synergy and harmony between the two is a very good thing for you and for everyone concerned.

Whether you are a visual, auditory, or kinesthetic learner, how do other people factor into your learning habits? How do you learn in the company of others as opposed to when you learn alone, left to your own devices?

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7. Take-Aways and Lessons-Learned
The boss who is today’s best learning coach is never satisfied with purely academic learning, and they don’t want their students to be either. While they’ll acknowledge that any kind of learning will be somehow useful, they mentor their students to make all learning count for something, to have it be adapted in some practical, tangible, and meaningful way. They always have an answer ready for the person who asks, “Why do I have to learn this stuff?” From the litigation-prevention classes HR does, to entertaining clients , business trips and travel to conferences, your boss will ask, “What did you get out of it? What can we use? What was your take-away, and what will be your next action now?” Learning is consequential.

Today’s new student needn’t have their boss ask these questions, for they’ve already asked them of themselves. With each new learning, how good are you at the self-discipline of measuring up your results from the effort? Have you learned to value your time for the precious resource it is?

8. New World Awareness
Let’s see. There’s Web 2.0, Globalization 3.0 and Learning 4.0 … This list would not be complete without these undeniable drivers of possibility, creativity and innovation in this, our “new world.” I do believe the boss of today must be virtually savvy, and must consider your access to electronic communication, collaboration and productivity tools as basic as the timeclock and telephone. Geography must be thought of as opportunity and not boundary, community as both virtual and sensory, and nationality as irrelevant. There are countless examples of jobs today which are still not using web-based tools, but they are jobs, and not the evolving roles of Today’s Learner and tomorrow’s leader.

How electronically and virtually savvy are you, and what kind of “new media” will you be learning to use next? Who is in your learning community, and who will be? Is your boss open to reinventing the nature of work as you both know it?

Are you?


Rosa Say

is the author of Managing with Aloha, Bringing Hawaii’s Universal Values to the Art of Business and the Talking Story blog. She is the founder of Say Leadership Coaching, a company dedicated to bringing nobility to the working arts of management and leadership.
Rosa’s most recent learning is with an online collaboration effort called JJLN: the Joyful Jubilant Learning Network. More of her Lifehack.org articles on learning can be found at this index.


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Published on December 13, 2018

How to Start a Company from Scratch (A Step-By-Step Guide)

How to Start a Company from Scratch (A Step-By-Step Guide)

If you’ve ever thought about starting and running your own business, you’re not alone. Being your own boss, having flexibility with your schedule and keeping more of the financial rewards that come with business ownership are all good reasons to own your own company.

But as you might expect, it’s not all vacations and fat bank accounts. According to the SBA, 2/3 of businesses survive at least 2 years and approximately 50% survive 5 years.[1] So why is the failure rate so high? At least for the businesses that fail early on, lack of, or poor planning can be a major factor.

So how to start a company?

Starting a business from scratch doesn’t have to be hard or complicated, but it does take planning and work. Here are the first and most important 9 steps to take when your are starting a company from scratch.

1. Do an Honest Evaluation of Yourself

Do you work better in a structured or unstructured environment? Does a daily routine reduce your anxiety? What kinds of things are you good at? Does public speaking or making presentations make you nervous? Are you good at accounting and numbers? Can you handle the rejections you’re bound to get when selling or cold calling?

These are all important questions to ask yourself, in fact it’s a good idea to get other peoples opinion about their perception of you in each of these situations.

Whatever the answers you come up with for your evaluation, remember that’s all it is, an evaluation of where you are now. Think of it as a way to identify both your areas of strength and weaknesses.

You maybe good at public speaking which can help when raising money, but bad at accounting which just means that you’ll need to find some kind of help with that area of the business.

2. Evaluate Your Idea

If your business idea involves a new product or service (or even an enhancement to an existing product or service), it needs to be evaluated. This is technically called market research.

There are firms that specialize in doing market research for new products, but if you are on a tight budget, you can do this yourself.

First, if you can build a prototype for people to use, touch and look at that’s the best option. If a prototype is not possible or it’s a service business, then offer a highly descriptive presentation of the business plan complete with it’s unique benefits and how it’s different from the competition.

Then listen! Remember that this is not about others liking your product, this is not your baby that they are talking about. You want honest market research that gives you the best chance for a successful business. Take notes, when someone tells you that they didn’t like a feature or some aspect of your idea tell them ‘Thank you”.

After several rounds of market research with different groups of people, you should see patterns emerging about things that they both liked and didn’t like. Use this information to tweak your product or service and do another round of market research.

Keep in mind that you’ll never come up with a universally loved product, your job is to produce a product or service that appeals to the broadest range of your target market.

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3. Make a Business Plan

I know, I know this isn’t the “fun” part of starting your own business, but it is an very important step in creating a successful business!

Basically, you can think of a business plan as an outline or blueprint of your business. A good business plan should have the following elements:

  • Executive Summary – This should lay out the businesses product or service and the problem that it solves for the consumer.
  • Market Evaluation – This should talk about the market you are serving. Is it an expanding market, and how does your product better fulfill the consumers in that market.
  • Market Strategies – How are you going to penetrate the market and sell your product.
  • Operational Plan – How will the company run from day to day? Who are the key employees and what are their specific rolls. Do your key players have specific goals set for them in advance?

A final word on making a business plan: while lying is never acceptable especially when you are using the business plan to raise money, it is acceptable to “put your best foot forward”.

Playing up the positives while minimizing the negatives is almost expected in a business plan.

Besides, banks as well as professional investors will both do a more in-depth analysis before investing any money into your idea.

4. Decide on a Business Structure

You have many options here, and discussing them with your accountant or financial adviser is really the only way to know what’s right for you. But just to give you a quick rundown of the types of business entities and their pros and cons we will briefly go through them:

Sole Proprietorship

This is a common way for small businesses to get started.

The pros being:

Relatively low costs to set up (usually a business license and sales tax license).Owners normally do not have to set up a special bank account, they are allowed to use their personal one. Any income earned can be offset by other losses (check with your state!). You as the sole proprietor have complete control over all decision making. 

Finally, sole proprietorship’s are relative easy to dissolve.

The cons of using a sole proprietorship include:

You as the sole proprietor can be held personally responsible for the debts and liabilities of the company. Some benefits, such as health insurance premiums, are not directly deductible from business income.

If you need to raise money, you are not allowed to sell an equity stake in the company. In that same vein, hiring key people maybe more difficult because you cannot offer them an equity stake in the company.

Partnership

A partnership is formed when two or more people decide to start a business. Although there is no legal requirement for any documentation to form a partnership, it is my advice that you never enter into a partnership without having a partnership agreement. (Remember, spending $1500 now can save you $150,000 in legal fees later!).

The pros of a partnership include:

Being relatively easy and inexpensive to start. Hiring key employees can be easier as you are allowed to give equity ownership to as many partners as you want.

For tax purposes, partnerships are relative simple as any income is treated as “pass through” meaning that each partner pays tax on their individual portion of the partnerships income (As of this writing, always check with your tax adviser).

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As far as the cons go:

It can be difficult for some general partnerships to raise capitol. Because it is a partnership, the actions of one of the partners can obligate the entire organisation. All profits must be shared according to the partnership agreement regardless of the amount of work done by any single partner.

Some employee benefits may not be able to be deducted on income tax returns.

Limited Liability Company (LLC)

This is a very popular business entity for small to medium sized businesses. The reason for this is the cost of set up is not prohibitive and there is a separation between the owners and the company.

The pros of an LLC include:

Limited liability for the partners, unlike sole proprietorship’s and partnerships where the owners are held responsible for all of the companies debts and liabilities, an LLC provides some protection against certain debts and liabilities that are solely the companies.

Simple taxation, just like the sole proprietorship and partnerships, income is considered “pass through” and is only taxed once on an individual level.

There is no limit on the number of shareholders in an LLC. An LLC requires fewer fillings and administrative requirements than a corporation.

Corporation

A corporation is much more complex and expensive to set up. And a corporation is legally considered an independent entity that is separate from its owners.

The pros of a corporation include:

Complete separation between the owners and the company. Because the corporation is considered its own legal entity, owners can not be held personally responsible for any debts or liabilities of the company.

A corporation can raise capital much easier just by selling more shares in the company.

Cons of corporations include:

Much higher administrative costs than any other business entity. Corporations generally have a higher tax rate. Dividends are not tax deductible for corporations. Income paid in dividends is taxed twice, once by the corporation and again by the shareholder.

Again, this is just a short summary of the pros and cons, always check with your tax adviser about what will work best in your situation.

5. Address Finances

Again, not one of the “Sexier” parts of starting your business from scratch, but very important nonetheless.

So, you’ve done your business plan and an estimate of your start up funding should be included. It should include the amount of funding you’ll need to get you through your first full year of operations.

Now, how do you get that money?

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Self Funding

If possible, self funding is the easiest. You won’t have to go to banks and investors with hat in hand, or give up ownership or control of your company. But as we know, this is not a reality for most people. But don’t worry, there are still plenty of options available.

Friends and Family

They can be a good source of funding your business if they can see and understand your vision.

Remember that business plan? Pass them out to everyone you know. Then follow up, be prepared to tell them the total amount of money you expect to raise, the minimum investment you are looking for and what you will give in return for the investment.

For example, you give a friend your business plan and follow up with him/her a few days later. You can explain that you have secured funding for $80,000 of the $100,000 you need. You are selling a 2% share in the company for every $2,000 investment. How many shares would he like?

And when he/she tells you no, thank him/her and ask if he/she can think of anyone off the top of his head who might be interested? Tell him/her you really appreciate his/her time and if he/she does come across someone who might be interested to let you know.

Banks

These guys are happy to lend you money when you don’t need it, but all of the sudden they get stingy when you actually need a loan! This is where preparation comes in.

It’s a good idea to go over your business plan with an expert and maybe even have it rewritten by an expert before you approach either a bank or professional investor. Both will want to go over your business plan with a fine tooth comb, verifying all the numbers and data you provide.

You should also brush up on everything in the plan so that you can answer any questions they have with authority.

Crowdfunding

Finally, there is crowdfunding through sites like Kickstarter or GoFundMe. Crowdfunding helps to build interest, community spirit, and a customer base. It’s also an efficient way to raise funds. You can take a look at these tips to find out more:

6 Crowdfunding Tips To Get Your Project 100 Percent Funded

6. Register with the Government

As stated earlier, different types of business entities have different filling and administrative requirements. At the very least, you’ll probably need a business license as well as a state sales tax license.

Unless you are forming a corporation, there are many good resources on the web that will do everything for you at a minimal cost.

7. Assemble Your Team

Remember when we evaluated your strengths and weaknesses? Here is where we fill in the gaps!

Do you hate sales and cold calling? Great! There are people who love selling and wouldn’t want to do anything else.

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Bored to death with accounting? There are a ton of small accounting firms out there that will take care of that for you.

What about marketing? You can hire someone in-house or out-source that too.

Your job is to keep on top of all the different aspects of the business to make sure they are all running smoothly and getting the results you need. If not, it’s your job to figure out the problem and implement a solution.

Check out this guide and learn how to delegate effectively:

How to Delegate Work (the Definitive Guide for Successful Leaders)

8. Buy Insurance

No matter what kind of business you start, you need insurance! Yes, I know, no one likes to buy insurance, but it can literally be the difference between having a minor inconvenience and declaring bankruptcy.

We live in a very litigious time, even a minor slip and fall at your place of business could bankrupt you without insurance. If you need help finding a good agent, check with your local trade organizations or fellow business owners.

9. Start Branding Yourself

Has anyone ever ask you for a Kleenex or a QTip? We all know what they are because of branding, Kleenex is just a brand of tissue and QTip is just a brand of cotton swab. It doesn’t have to be as widely known as Kleenex or QTip, but you can make your brand a common name within your niche.

I once owned a manufacturing company that developed a product that was so popular that my competitors started co-opting my brand name for their products.

If you aren’t sure how to kickstart branding yourself, check out these ways:

5 Ways to Build your Personal Brand & Make More Money

The Bottom Line

Starting a business from scratch can be one of the most rewarding experiences a person can have.

But do you know what’s even more rewarding? Having a business that succeeds, is profitable and provides a good source of income for you, your employees and their family’s.

More Resources About Entrepreneurship

Featured photo credit: Tyler Franta via unsplash.com

Reference

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