July 14th, 2014 · No Comments
Carol talks with Robbie Vitrano, the founder of Idea Village and Naked Pizza, on the need to align the essence of investors with the essence of a start-up or company.
Carol Sanford is a business development consultant and educator to Fortune 100 executives and Rock Star Entrepreneurs, the author of the multi-award winning books The Responsible Business and The Responsible Entrepreneur.
July 11th, 2014 · No Comments
Entrepreneurship is the heart of our economic system. It is also the clearest evidence of capitalism working at its best. But it requires several things to thrive. And two are at risk of being ripped away. The level playing field of the Internet, as articulated in this NYTimes opinion piece and the availability of getting all levels of investors involved even with the recent exciting legislation that authorized Crowd funding. The FCC is consider a two channel Internet where the big and wealthy players get faster bandwidth and the rest of us have to be in a very slow lane.
The level playing field is important to every entrepreneur, because if startups have to use the slower lane, then they cannot easily create disruptive technologies. This has fueled our growth as a nation for decades since leapfrogging also promotes new manufacturing and channels for access to purchasing. The FCC is seriously looking at undermining this equal access which underlies the success of entrepreneurs whether you are in tech on not. Everyone uses it to create, to sell and to market. The new SEC ruling that is actively being considered is redefining the accredited investor status. It could cut out a huge group of investors that startups count on; a set of smaller investors combining money to invest in impact investing together. The new delineations promote dividing lines that are based on wealth accumulation rather than the time tested method of knowing well and be close in expertise to what you are investing in.
It is the wrong place to put effort. It is more important for the SEC to work on two characteristics of investing that improve the working of Capitalism. The first is transparency of businesses. One of the major reasons that investing is risky is so much can be hidden and manipulated by the company offering stock for capital investment. [Read more →]
June 19th, 2014 · No Comments
Maliki, Iraq’s besieged President, has given us an example of falling down on what it means to ensure the working of Democracy. That part will come as no surprise! But what may surprise you is what Maliki forgot, which is, people have to care for something beyond themselves, not feel beholden to a power structure. Otherwise, they easily quit when the going gets rough.
In today’s New York Times story, we are reminded that when Malaki took office, he replaced all the career military generals and put only people who agreed with him close by. They were loyal to him, but nothing beyond him, either from fear, greed or desire for power. It is, therefore, no surprise that the rank and file have ‘cut and run”. Unless they can see they are fighting for something they believe it, chaos is the outcome.
In The Responsible Entrepreneur, I have a story of another nature of leader working in Afghanistan. In partnership with private funders, Shainoor Khoja and her husband, who had a strong desire to make a fundamental difference in some of the world’s most intractable trouble spots, started a business in Kabal. The Khojas were in Afghanistan to look for proactive ways to help a traumatized population come together as a nation. To do this, they and their funders believed that it would be necessary to rebuild faith in the possibility of nationhood and self-governance. They were seeking a means to make this real for the Afghan people as a practical matter in their daily lives.
Since then, Roshan, their company, has grown into the largest nonmilitary employer in Afghanistan. It sells phones and services to consumers, as well as infrastructure access to other providers. The company’s business model is based on establishing small, locally owned franchises in communities throughout the country and then using the presence of these businesses to foster self-reliance and community redevelopment. In the absence of a functioning government, this has been critical to getting Afghani communities back on their feet. It is given people something to believe in.
Shainoor Khoja aimed to grow a culture where, little by little, ordinary people believed that they could take control of their lives. At the time of this writing, Afghanistan still suffers the effects of prolonged war, but Roshan is providing an experience of a different kind of narrative of accomplishment. This is the ground on which Democracy, hopefully someday can survive.
The is the way of The Responsible Entrepreneur, bringing about significant change, by how they do business. The mission is embedded, not a side bar of the business. This story is told in ore depth in The Responsible Entrepreneur: Four Game Changing Archetypes for Founders, Leaders and Impact Investors. Check out the Pre-sale page and get bonuses and watch us give 2% of our profits to not-for-profit organizations who are building personal agency in young girls and college age youth.
April 24th, 2013 · 1 Comment
Corporations outsource everything from accounting and manufacturing to human resource functions. For the most part, charity and Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) are methods of outsourcing responsibility, handing off the heavy lifting to someone outside the company who will make strategic decisions to bring about transformations and decide when success has been achieved. These days, with CSR the fastest growing consultant practice, too many companies ask little more of themselves than to find a congenial not-for-profit organization or consultant. When the brand is protected—or even better, enhanced—and performance can be reported on a responsibility annual report, they assume that they are. . . well. . .being responsible.
Real responsibility is up close and engaged. When Colgate Palmolive, South Africa decided to help birth the New South Africa, it did not give money to not-for-profits. Stelios Tsesos, the company’s general manager in Africa, chartered and then prepared Colgate’s entire local workforce to help the new government succeed. Individuals and teams drew on their business acumen to develop innovation that included engaging respected women leaders in the townships. They educated them on oral health, something that Colgate knew well and that was core to their business, and helped them build skills to run small businesses. Then they set up these entrepreneurs to sell very small lots of dental care products within the townships, producing income for themselves and supporting and improving the health of their communities. [Read more →]
March 5th, 2013 · No Comments
In a Responsible Entrepreneur’s business, not all work is equal in importance or in financial or societal return. Some work has more chance of producing success and making bigger a difference. But for a busy entrepreneur, it’s hard to know which effort or what kind of work will make a significant contribution.
There are four levels of work, and you have to learn to do them all in parallel. And as you get better at them, to do them all at once. If you aren’t differentiating among them, you are just keeping busy and hoping for the best.
Foundation Level – Operations Work
Running effectively, making your customers happy and glad to pay for your offerings
Far too many responsibly-minded entrepreneurs don’t even meet the conditions of foundational work. They aren’t creating the conditions for a growing business, and they may even be copying traditional business practices in their accounting, relationships with suppliers, and ways of generating customer loyalty. This does not serve customers well or provide what is needed for innovation. [Read more →]
January 10th, 2013 · No Comments
Yesterday we looked at the fourth of five errors made by Responsible Entrepreneurs: distancing yourself from customers by relying on market research.
Error Five: Borrowing and Tacking the Ethical and Sustainability Practices of Other Businesses Onto Yours
Why is this an error? When your business borrows plans and practices from other businesses, you can have no idea whether they will make better communities, ecosystems, and economies, and you lose a critical source of innovation and motivation. [Read more →]
January 9th, 2013 · No Comments
This morning we looked at Error Three: choosing the wrong initiatives or the wrong ways to work on them.
Error Four: Using Market Research to Know and Design for Your Customers
Why is this an error? You fool yourself into thinking you know your market and lose the most critical opportunity for success—real, caring connections to your customers. [Read more →]
January 9th, 2013 · No Comments
Yesterday we looked at the first two of Five Top Errors entrepreneurs make as they build and grow their businesses: paying too much attention to trends and competition; and misplaced measurements that cause loss of customer loyalty.
Error Three: Taking On the Wrong Initiatives or Working On Them the Wrong Way
Why is this an error? It is one of the most wasteful uses of resources, a lot like gambling or hoping to learn from mistakes as the worst case. [Read more →]
January 8th, 2013 · No Comments
My last post looked at the first of five serious errors that responsible entrepreneurs make: following trends and placing too much emphasis on competitiveness.
Error Two: Measuring How You’re Doing at the Wrong Place in the Work Stream.
Why is this an error? It promotes navel-gazing internal thinking, which leads to failure to detect customer dissatisfaction and loss of customer loyalty. [Read more →]
January 8th, 2013 · 1 Comment
Whether you are building a new business or growing an established one, it is important to know what factors can limit your success. Often actions we take for what seem to be the best of reasons turn out to be errors. Over time, these errors can spread into our decision-making processes and implementation. There are hundreds of different mistakes that are easy to make, but five stand out as the biggest strategic errors. Each has a multiplier impact on business, and beyond direct effects, may undermine a business as a whole.
Error One: Too Much Time and Emphasis on Trends and Competitive Assessments
Why is this an error? It promotes commodity offerings and diminishes the innovation that is core to your business’s entrepreneurial culture. [Read more →]