Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Becoming a Young Gun

Today, Robert Tuchman, author of Young Guns: the Fearless Entrepreneur’s Guide to Chasing Your Dreams and Breaking out on Your Own, is providing a guest post. Robert is an entrepreneur who started Tuchman Sports Enterprises (TSE) out of his one-bedroom apartment in New York City. His company was named to the annual Inc. 500 list of America's fastest growing privately held companies and as one of the top 100 promotion agencies by Promo Magazine. He bootstrapped the startup of TSE with no money and no investors and ended up successfully selling it to Premiere Global Sports for a tidy profit. Last year TSE earned over $70 million dollars in sales as the Corporate Events division of Premiere Global Sports. Robert serves as President of that division, still guiding the business he started.

Graduation from college carries such ironic emotion: you have spent four years yearning to graduation, but as soon as you do, you spend your remaining days nostalgic about your school days. College is a great time, but with graduation comes reality. You are now armed with all that you need: you are the fuse and your diploma is the match. Let the fireworks begin!

Many leave college and send out applications to tens of corporations looking for a job. But there are others who take a bit more of a risk: they seek entrepreneurial pursuits. Know that what lay behind you and what lay in front of you is trivial compared to what lay within you. Have courage.

If it is entrepreneurship you desire post graduation, there are several thing you must consider.

An entrepreneur needs to be someone who can both visualize and actualize. He needs to be able to visualize something—and once he has that “something,” he needs to see exactly how to make it happen. In order to make it happen, there are several steps that you as an entrepreneur must take on your way to entrepreneurial success. Do not just enhance what is, but advance towards what will be: keep the long term in sight.

It is essential that you are able to marry your work and what you love. When in sales, there is no right or wrong way to sell: all you need is passion and enthusiasm for your product. This passion will ignite the minds of your potential client, facilitating connections, and connections between will be made. Your passion and enthusiasm for your product will be what encourages the sale—not the rote duplication of someone else’s selling system. It takes courage to grow up, form your own philosophy, and become who you really are. What you do to sell and promote your business has to be a reflection of what you are already willing to stay up late for and get up early for. It has to connect to your “why” and be a part of your own experience.

Second, you must start working your plan, whether you are ready nor not. Know the four good things that you are about to do: first, that your business is going to be built on a great idea; second, that great idea is going to connect you to a market; third, that you will create a plan based on what you learn, on an ongoing basis, about that market; fourth, that you will adjust that plan over time.

After you have visualized your plan, find the right partner… and avoid the wrong one! You will have a significant advantage over one-man businesses if you come together with another person regularly to make important decisions. Find someone with whom you have good chemistry, someone who fills your blind spots. Successful partnerships are based on the idea of taking different perspectives in a discussion and having different talents.

Once the groundwork has been established, set priorities for the absolutely crucial first year. Concentrate on why you are doing something—not how. Your “why” will keep you closely connected to your company and your product. As soon as you lose sight of “why,” you will also lose sight of your driving force and your motivation.

Through your first year and beyond, court clients—and keep them coming back! In order that you become a successful entrepreneur, it is essential that you are the person who is willing to pick up the phone and call people to talk about making deals and doing business. When you make this phone call, make sure you are absolutely certain about the product that you are selling. With this certainty, you can use confidence to build up a network of contacts. The network cannot be established overnight—it is going to take a lot of phone calls. You cannot just wave your magic wand over a corporation and change them into a profitable client.

In order to keep your client base, you need a great team to work with. Make sure that your company has shared values, that there are rewards for quality improvements, and that there are strong internal and external relationships. Empower the best, lose the rest!

Inevitably, there will be failure. You must learn from failure: use it as a stepping-stone. Do not forget what mistakes you have made, but do not allow yourself to dwell on them. Take from your failure: take the lesson learned—do not let it take anything from you: not your energy, not your time and not your space.

Finally, in order to keep your company going and keep your clients happy, maintain good relations with your vendors. It is essential that you support the people who support you. If you are making a big commitment to a client, make sure you have a solid relationship with your vendor.

In the end, take energy from taking risks. Live in the spirit of the entrepreneur!

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