10 IDEAS TO KICK-START YOUR VERY OWN SUCCESSFUL BUSINESS – Set 5

Entering the world of business is very challenging but the fruits of labor that come with establishing a business is truly worth it when we see the rewards of our work. In today’s dynamic business world, more people are considering starting a home-based business and for good reasons too. It’s a calculated risk to take but one that could very well pay off. Below, I have compiled a list of some creative business ideas that have the potential to become a flourishing investment in Sri Lanka. Most of the below mentioned businesses can actually be started by anyone and would require a certain level of specialized knowledge in that specific designation but it could certainly take you on the right path or even inspire another business idea in you.

  1. Human Generated Electricity

nPower PEG was the very first human powered charger for devices in the world. It uses kinetic energy that we create as we walk or run or even move around, thereby giving us 100% green electricity whenever we need it. In Sri Lanka in particular, where the electricity bills are constantly on the rise, there is no doubt that something like this could actually be a massive hit among fitness enthusiasts, those looking to cut down on additional costs and for anyone who are passionate about going green.

  1. Incredibly sturdy butcher blocks

Housewives would certainly relate to the scenario of purchasing a wooden block for kitchen use and then having to discard it soon due to the lack of quality. Owing to this, people are willing to pay more if it means that the product will be both, durable and beautiful. If you can manage to manufacture the highest quality wooden kitchenware made out of solid hardwood, women in particular, would love it. Ensure that the pieces highlight the natural grain of the wood so it adds to the aesthetic appeal. This idea drew inspiration from the Vermont Butcher Block and Board Company that manufactures premium quality butcher blocks that have four rubber feet at the bottom which are secured with stainless steel screws to make sure that the board stays in place and doesn’t slip. Additionally, these boards are also gentler on the knives and are more resistant to damage.

  1. Balance bicycle with no pedals

All of us love to pedal bicycles and in our childhood especially, we were been obsessed with riding one. Children between the ages of 2 ½ and 5 ½ usually ride a bicycle balanced on training wheels. However, a balance bicycle without pedals such as the KaZAM Bikes offers a wonderful and safe alternative. These bicycles take the focus away from paddling and places it on the balance and steering, making it a very easy and safe way to teach our kids how to ride a bicycle. These balance bicycles actually don’t depend on the pedals for movement; rather, kids would use their feet in order to propel themselves forward and as they generate more momentum, they can focus on the steering.

  1. Filtered water bottle

Water, as we all know, is the most important resource in the world and having fresh and clean drinking water is exceptionally crucial for our health. However now, with various pollutants contaminating the water, the need to drink filtered water is very important. This is why I believe a filtered water bottle can be a very successful business in Sri Lanka. Something like the Gobie H20 filtered water bottles is truly a great idea. The bottles are designed with a built-in filter that is ergonomic and is capable of removing any harmful elements from tap water. The carbon-based filter removed chlorine, odors and minerals from tap water, leaving it refreshing and clean water that is safe to drink. These filtered water bottles are a great option for school-going children, those who go to work, and basically for everyone who would like to drink safe, clean and healthy water.

  1. Natural sugar skin care products

Women love cosmetics and they are happily willing to splurge money on skin care products that actually work. Simple Sugar is a popular line of skin care products that are designed for those with sensitive skin and the natural sugar scrubs are very effective in gently exfoliating and nourishing the skin. Introducing a skin care product such as this is Sri Lanka has great potential and the ladies would truly love it. The sugars can successfully remove dead cells and allows oils to penetrate through so the result with be smooth, moisturized and great looking skin without having to use too many products.

  1. Beanbag chair and bed in one

Having to prepare a good place for guests to relax at home is a worry most homeowners have. With Corda-Roy’s Beanbag chair and bed, you can now offer a very comfortable experience for your guests and your family members to lounge, sit back and even sleep in total comfort. This is a very stylish accessory that can be easily converted from a beanbag chair to a comfy mattress with an easy zip. Kids can hang out in the beanbag chair as they play their favourite games or watch TV and when it’s time to sleep, they just need to lay it flat and it becomes a soft and plush mattress. The beanbag is a great addition to take on a family vacation too.

  1. Acupressure wristband for nausea

Acupressure is a technique that has been successfully used for centuries and is gaining global recognition as a very effect drug-free way of managing nausea caused by anesthesia, morning sickness, motion sickness and chemotherapy. The Psi Bands are a line of acupressure wristbands that can prevent nausea and it comes with a pressure dial with over fifty setting so you can fine tune and find the best fit for you. A product such as thing can certainly be very beneficial for the pharmaceutical industry of Sri Lanka.

 

  1. Airtight plate topper to cover leftovers

 

Many housewives in Sri Lanka use plastic containers and wraps to store or cover food but these products can actually cause a number of problems. Tupperware lids can easily crack and cling wrap, as we know, can be very messy most the time. However, a convenient cover such as the plate topper can transform any plate into an airtight container so food can be stored with no hassle. All you need to do is hold and press down the handle to create an airtight seal that is strong enough that you could even suspend the plate in mid-air. To release the seal, the tab has to be lifted and pulled and the food is ready to serve. It works on china, plate and even the kitchen counter and I’m sure housewives would fall in love with a product like this because it can go a long way in preventing messy spills and simplify your kitchen work for you.

 

  1. Organic Laundry Soap

 

Many people are looking for healthy safe and organic alternatives t the daily products they use because it’s definitely better for you, your family and the environment. There are numerous green household cleaners in Sri Lanka but it’s hard to find an organic laundry detergent. Something like Eco nuts could work very well. This is an organic, all-natural laundry detergent that does an impressive job is cleaning while reducing the impact on the environment and removing any residual chemical buildup. This product is also a good choice for people who suffer from allergies or sensitive skin problems. What’s more, this product is available in a small box that does as much laundry as a standard bottle of laundry detergent.

 

  1. Modern wall planters

 

Contemporary interiors are picking up in popularity in Sri Lanka and wall planters are a key component of modern home décor, a magnetic wall planter and organizer can add a very modern and sleek look to your house while at the same time, save space. The steel construction board can be easily mounted to the wall and it serves as a canvas for you to either, add plants, arrange books, or basically anything. It is also perfect for hanging plants in your living room, organizing tools in the kitchen or garage and store products in the bathroom.

 

I hope the above ideas have sparked some kind of inspiration for you to start our own business successfully. The key is to offer unique, helpful and good quality products without compromising on quality. If such is the case, customers would fight to grab your offers!

 

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11 Lessons on Entrepreneurship

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I’ve been an entrepreneur for more than 5 years. I’ve been asked a lot on what it takes to be a successful entrepreneur and how I define success. Over the years, I’ve learnt a lot about entrepreneurship and the first thing I learnt to dispel is the persistent myth that entrepreneurial success is all about breakthrough ideas and innovative thinking. If there’s one thing I’ve realized, it’s that entrepreneurial success comes through great execution.

The points I’ve listed below are some of the noteworthy lessons I’ve learnt along the way:

1- Always remember our six most essential human needs

We all need to feel a sense of significance and love, certainty and uncertainty as well as experience growth and feel like we are contributing. Numerous people specialize in two. You have to look for people who share those common needs.

2- Great people are familiar with great people

Whenever I was unsure where to look for the next best person to hire, I ask the best person I could find in the field I’m looking to hire and ask them who they would recommend and I always ask for them to outline the criteria I should look for. If you’re looking for new talent and don’t know where to look, just ask.

3- Look beyond a good candidate

Look for someone who can do the job and their role should be united with their long term goals. Once you find someone whose goals fit those of the company, get out of the way and let them do their work.

4- You’re a business owner, not a business operator

If you find that you are stressed out about your business, then that makes you a business operator, not an owner. Once you hit the brakes, your business automatically stops working. You have to be strategic and build a business that can function without you.

5- Winners take action, losers react

Getting the right thing done isn’t going to be enough- you have to do it at the right time. Challenges are habitual and the key is getting to those who have played the game before successfully and learn from them where the complications are so you can evade them.

6- It’s not about the profit- it’s all about the cash

You do need an accountant or a CPA who can tell you about your profits, but profits is just an accounting theory. A CFO who can construe all that data in practical metrics that matter is who you really need.

7- Believe, work hard and persist

Without these three components, no business will last long enough. You need to believe that there are opportunities out there, work hard towards getting there and persist because you know it’s going to be worth it.

8- Indentify your perfect client

If you don’t know or recognize who exactly your customers are, that means you aren’t targeting deep enough.

9- Know when to decline opportunities

If you’re smart, the chances are that you’ll have so many prospects come your way. You have to be disciplined enough not to spread yourself too thin too fast, because if you do that, then nothing will be stable no matter how good an entrepreneur you are.

10- Enthusiastic fans are better than satisfied customers

With a satisfied customer you only get that: satisfied, that’s it. They might come back and they might not. An enthusiastic and raving fan, on the other hand, is someone who has been greatly impressed by the service they have received and they can’t stop telling other people about it.

11- Altruism is important

There is a myth about us entrepreneurs that we always act in our own self-interest. The truth is that we work more so to help others than to help ourselves. You know how important it is to set a business goal, so remember, it’s important to set an ambitious altruistic goal to motivate you further.

How behavioural styles affect business

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It is always common that every individual around us have different attitudes and ways of doing things. Their way of thinking, networking and interacting with people might change. During a networking session, meeting or a gathering, it is important for the Marketers to understand different behavioural styles of people in order to effectively network.

Philosophers invented a model called DiSC in order to develop better understanding of behaviours. In fact, now DiSC is a universal language that has been documented and validated in over 25 countries around the world.

When I was in USA for the BNI Conference, Dawn Lyons conducted a very interactive session regarding this with various group activities.  I found it very useful and thought of sharing it with my readers.

10734186_10154805451010497_1315823072294186447_n“Room Full of Referrals” Trainig by US Referral Marketing Expert Dawn Lyons

Generally, in any networking room, you will get four types of people: Go-getters, Promoters, Nurturers and Examiners. Understanding the behaviour of these four types of behavioural patterns is vital for marketers to network and understand anyone in the room for better communication with adaptive style.

So, who is a Go-getter?

A go-getter is a busy and innovative individual who would be equivalent to the “D” in DiSC. These individuals are generally very driven, result-focused, quick paced and even often impatient. Simply put, these are people who have a “get it done right now!” attitude. They are strong believers in pragmatism and are never hesitant to bend a few rules. They are the type of people who understand that it is a lot easier to ask for forgiveness rather than having to beg for permission. They are also so incredibly focused that people may take them to appear detached. They are so ambitious about their ideas and goals that they forget to take the time to enjoy other things.

Go-getters attend networking events in order to gain new business prospects and rub shoulder with the successful people in the event.

Who is a Promoter?

Promoters are people who are energetic supporters. They urge and use persuasive means to popularize or sell something. Promoters are comparable to the “i” in DiSC. They are very friendly and positive people who have the happy-go-lucky attitude. Known to be fun lovers, promoters love to be on the go and always look for enjoyable ways of doing things. At the same time, they are the type of people who tend to avoid confrontations and would prefer to casually mingle with clients over a meal rather than working on a serious proposal in the office quarters.

Promoters are also often dreamy individuals who have a plethora of ideas in their head and always manage to get others excited about their ideas. They would even be bold enough to take risks and generally stay away from researching information or doing their homework before making decisions. Instead, they rely solely on their instincts.

Promoters attend networking functions to meet new people, have a great chat with friends and make sure that they are noticed in the event. In short, they love to hang out.

Who are Nurturers?

Nurturers are the kind, helpful, caring and incredibly patient people who graciously gives gentle care to a person in order to assist in their growth or development. They are equivalent to the “S” in DiSC. Nurturers are wonderful listeners who like things to be slower paced than go-getters and promoters. They like dealing with things in their own way and in their own time and do not like being rushed or pushed into anything. Rather, they are grateful for quality time with people and their comfortable temperament makes it easier for others to approach them. Due to their relaxed nature, they have the gift of developing strong networks with others. As dependable and supportive individuals, nurturers are amazing team players. They tend to stay away from risks and would rather tolerate a difficult environment than having to put themselves through a change.

Nurturers attend networking events to connect with others they are already acquainted with and also meet down-to-earth people. Their focus in attending these events is to strengthen and deepen their interactions and relationships.

Who are Examiners?

Equivalent to the “C” in DiSC, examiners are people who carefully analyze and inspect other people in detail and further test their skills and aptitude by asking questions. Examiners are highly efficient and methodical individuals who are driven by their tasks. They are very focused on finding information and acquiring knowledge and they love to check off things in their extensive “to do” list. Due to the fact that examiners love information, they take a lot of consideration and time ahead of making any decision. You could call them perfectionists.

Examiners are very good communicators due to their extensive knowledge on a variety of topics. They are careful about expressing their emotions and are rather guarded people who can sometimes be rather uncomfortable around individuals who are lively and expressive, such as promoters. Examiners will always see the complex side of things and their natural intelligence and cleverness gives them their own unique style of wacky humor.

Examiners attend networking events solely to promote and market their business and as soon as they achieve their goal, they will leave the events as promptly as they can.

In conclusion, once you start to have a clearer understanding of these four behavioral patterns, it will naturally become far easier for you to identity what category any individual falls under, thereby allowing you to adapt to their style and making them feel good and comfortable.

Things you should not do when starting a business

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As I am getting more and more inquiries related to starting a new business I thought of sharing few points with the readers who seek for advices and guidances from me. First of all I would like to thank them. I have personally written back to many of them. For the rest of them to whom I haven’t written back, this article may be useful. Let’s see the reasons that majority of them mention as why they would like to start a business. The reasons can be categorised into few segments. First one is requesting for ideas to start a business as they do not have a proper direction, secondly thinking starting a business is a solution to get rid of their bosses’ scolding and temporary work pressure, thirdly having money in hand and looking ways to invest it productively and lastly having a concept or an idea and looking ways to execute it in the real world.

Everything in this world depends on something. A company will invest further believing in it’s financial strength, a student believes in achieving good results believing that the parents and teachers will support, a family remains happy and comfortable believing the husband or father will protect them.

Similarly, as an Entrepreneur, many of us start the business believing in so many things. Hence I am writing this post to say in which you should not depend and start a business. I think this might give some answers to some of my readers’ questions.

With the aspiration to be your own boss everyone believe their gut feeling and leave the current job to start the business. This post will be suitable for who plan to start something without big capital or no capital also to people who believe their strength and skills to start a business.

1- Do not start a business thinking that the society will encourage you or support you.

Entrepreneurs are like inventors who did not fear to jump off a hill to test an airplane, who believed that they can fly despite the society’s criticisms. So when you are thinking of a start up do not just believe that the society as a whole will support you to grow. Society will start assess your failures more than the success. If you struggle at the beginning it will advice to go back to work. Similarly when the society says do not take risk or risk your family’s financial security for the sake of doing a business, you do not have to listen to that too.

2- Do not believe in luck all the time.

Remember, your hard work and focus will bring you success. In my point hard work with luck may bring you consistent success. Always have positive attitude towards anything and believe that positive power will bring luck or success to your business.

3- Do not wait for opportunities.

Create chances and cease thinking that chances and opportunities will find you. This world is full of opportunities. You have to ask for business and you have to find the opportunities. People sit and wait until the opportunity comes and knocks the door rather going extra miles to actively seek for it. When you network you build your personal brand and this will bring you more contacts and opportunities.

Allocate your time to seek for it. People just give up when they face a difficulty in business. In the middle of every difficulty lies opportunity says Albert Aientien. If you think you do not have the expected skills then seek for it, develop the skills and then make use of the opportunity.

4- Do not expect others to motivate you.

When you are feeling down you have to do something to cheer you up. If you have kind and supportive people around you, you are lucky enough to move forward with their encouragement and advice. But if there is no one, remember you have to motivate yourself.

5- Do not believe in banks to start your business or to run the business.

In Sri Lanka I have seen most of the banks carry the so called tagline or motto saying “WE SUPPORT SME’s” etc. If you believe this and approach a bank for loan, even with a best idea and a realistic action plan, the results is very less likely to be positive. The banks would say we offer funds if your company’s turnover exceed 100 or 150 million rupees, or you have to produce assets or guarantors working for government sectors and much more. Though the banks say they support entrepreneurship, in most of the cases that’s not helping a start-up or a SME to begin or expand.

The bitter truth is, there are so many people out there without capital and only having the entrepreneurship drive to start something in their own.  Obtaining funds form banks once you establish yourself is easier but by that time you may not need the support form the bank. Though this may be acceptable from the banks’ point of view, the disappointing fact is the banks are not walking the talk. Ideally the banks should advertise as “WE SUPPORT ESTABLISHED ENTREPRENEURS” rather disappointing the start ups with false promise.

6- Do not start a business simply to show-off.

World will automatically recognise you once you achieve something. Do not expect people to come and praise you. Work hard and keep it covered, let your success make the noise.

7- Do not compare others with you when you are in your own.

If you are in corporate then yes, you can do that. When you are in your own you are unique. Do not spend unnecessarily just because your friend is spending, do not show off because your friend in doing so and do not buy items that are unnecessary for you. You have to plan your life and lead it in a way that benefits your business.

8- Do not expect your family to take part in your business.

Most people when they start business they bring their family members into the business or expect the family members to support. Remember that the entrepreneurship life is challenging and not easy as you think. Do not expect your loves ones to carry the burden with you. Let them live their dreams whilst your live yours.

Common Mistakes that all Entrepreneurs should Avoid

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Being an Entrepreneur for more than 4 years the lessons that I have learned are countless. In the life of Entrepreneurship I would say each and every minute is a lesson. From the dawn to the day to the end of it, let it be while exercising, managing employees, planning the future expansions, meeting and networking with people and much more bring many lessons and scopes of life.

In these 4 years I made many mistakes and learnt lessons from those mistakes. I believe sharing the important mistakes I made and the lessons learnt with fellow Entrepreneurs will help them to skip certain phenomenal barriers to success.

Here are some of the important lessons of Entrepreneurship from my life.

  • When you are starting a business always make sure you have a certain amount of capital to start up. When I started the business I started with 0 capital. The problem of starting a venture with 0 or very minimal capital which is not enough to cover the operational expenses that the business is going to burn will end up in eating your revenue and gradually this will stop your business expansion. Do not let your expenses to line-up before a cash inflow comes into the business.
  • Settle all your bills on time. Do not wait until all accumulate. End of the day it becomes a huge burden on your working capital. During my early stage of business due to this I had so many issues such as disconnection of electricity supply, mobile line etc.
  • Recruit people those who are competent enough to support your goal. During your start up stage you are the employee and employer. Once you start moving from where you started you need people to manage the tasks with less supervision as you have to focus more on expansion and not day-to-day operations. Recruiting the right people at the right place becomes an integral part of start-up success. Recruiting a competent staff will cost you and bearing such overhead at the beginning stage will be problematic. Do not go for an incompetent option just because you want to lessen your overheads. During recruitment you should avoid recruiting an employee who is working on his own venture as well.  This will divert his time on work and reduce his productivity at the workplace.
  • Managing finance and accounts is always an important part of business. You should know how you are getting money and where it goes. Most companies close down at its very early stage simply because poor finance management. If you are not from finance background without any double thoughts outsource the work or recruit someone who can handle and support you. Do not think about the cost. Not doing so will cost you more in long run.
  • Exercise and keep your body and mind active. For you to work well, focus more, come up with new ideas and implement them your health is an important factor. When you are not healthy you feel down all the time which will affect the company’s performance too. Avoid junk food and eat healthy.
  • Most of us stay late and work in the nights to finish projects and complete pending works. Though this is important during your early stage sleeping at least 6 to 7 hours a day should be a must. Effectiveness of a particular day depends on your previous day’s amount of sleep too. Accumulation of less sleep and irregular lifestyle routine will impact your health in long run.
  • Associate with like minded people. There are people outside to destroy your thoughts. Always speak to people those who encourage and support you. Be connected with people who can understand your thoughts and constructively criticize, not blindly criticize your opinions and ideas.
  • Entrepreneurs get busy when they start the business and they start to withdraw from the external events and networking opportunities. Remember your main source of income would be the network you have. Even for me if I calculate the total income I earned from my network would be over 65%. Start-ups cannot afford big marketing budgets. But business referral coming through your network has 0 acquisition cost. So attend external events and build your network all the time. Be in touch with the network.
  • When starting a business most of us use to think that we can start and run a business while we are at home. In my opinion I would say it pulls everything down. Your drive and motivation to achieve something will be affected by the distractions at home. Even it will affect your personal life too which in turn will affect your productivity. Get a small space, or share an office space with someone you know. Keep your business and personal life separate.
  • Learn from mistakes. In the entrepreneurship life you make so many mistakes, that’s fine. Take those as lessons and move on, but make sure you are not repeating the mistakes again.
  • Do not mess your business life with personal life. When you are running a business you face lots of problems and issues. Always keep in mind that leaving the problems at office and joining your family members is important. A happy home makes a man more productive than anything. During early stage where you are new to the challenges it will be difficult to separate them. Gradually you will get used to it.
  • Learn to keep the problem at a distance and try to solve them. Those days I used to think about the problems in business always and even at certain times I started living with them. And I realized it never got solved. Later I started to learn to keep them away and started thinking about solutions and not about the problems. For an instance when we are in the corporate we were able to solve problems easily but not when it comes to our own business. That is mainly because if you are working for someone you know that problem is someone else’s and you think form the third person point of view where you can easily find the solution.