The best way for a student to start a business during college is with a network marketing organization.
Before you roll your eyes (or maybe after) consider this:
1. Network marketing is a $167 BN industry. That makes is a larger industry than video games at $67 BN, organic products at $80 BN, and the NFL at $9.5 BN. It also grew as an industry by $50 BN or nearly 50% in the years from 2009 to 2012. All statistics are from 2012.
2. The best network marketing companies are reputable and have a low cost of entry – especially for students. The one I’m involved with (disclaimer World Ventures) also has no inventory to carry or manage, which suits the living arrangements and lifestyle of students. Additionally, the best companies offer plenty of training, mentoring, and leadership development.
3. Students learn the techniques of professional sales, which any entrepreneur – student or otherwise – must master.
Finally a story, about an MBA graduate from Cal Poly who was interviewing for jobs after graduation. All the employers mainly wanted to talk about his business, yes the network marketing one that he built. He was made five job offers and accepted the one that was made by Tesla.
Entrepreneurialism is a must-have trait for all professionals. The best way to learn it is not in class, but to earn it on the playing field of business.
No matter how hard Olympians train, when winning can come down to a thousandth of a second every optimization is crucial. One crucial decision that every athlete faces is whether to risk their health and career by using performance-enhancing drugs in order to closer to the win.
There are parallels in business everyday. I see a lot of companies make unhealthy decisions when faced with the pressures for short-term results. Many cycle through inexpensive interns instead of investing in developing talent for the future; they stifle innovation through excessive cost cutting; or grind “productivity” out of increasingly demotivated employees.
These decisions aren’t as obvious as an athlete deciding to dope, instead they creep in at every level of the organization until long-term health is in danger.
Certainly there are times when the short-term need for a win can outweigh long-term considerations, but it’s important to be clear about the choices that are being made, and the consequences that could appear down the road.
How can you be certain that your organization is making healthy decisions?
Start by to asking these questions:
- What are the long-term impacts of short-terms bursts of productivity?
- How are we pursuing a strategy of long-term health while pursuing our short-term goals?
- Is our drive to win today compelling us to pursue tactics that will make it difficult for us to win tomorrow?
Any organization that is compromising its long term health for short term burst is doping. It’s a choice. The consequences become graver the longer it goes on, and it’s always possible to pursue a healthier course.
Enjoy the games!
Something you may not know about me is that in addition to my consulting work I am also a co-owner of a landscape contracting company, and as such rely on financial professionals in the running of that company.
I recently received a request from a journalist to share my thoughts in the core competencies today for CPA’s and other financial professionals. Here are my observations:
A great financial services leader communicates completely, candidly, and directly.
Too often, I’ve seen financial professionals believing that they’ve stated a set of concerns very clearly, but the client doesn’t really grasp the severity of the situation. The same can happen with their own employees.
Get confirmation that your message has been received and understood instead of just delivering it. A weak leader avoids conflict by throwing out information without verifying understanding.
A weak financial services leader will take and cling to toxic business, such as the client who borders on abusiveness with staff, etc…
The leader who is run by fear of losing any business, including bad business, is weak – and running their business into the ground. A great leader will regularly cull their client list until their book is filled with clients who treat them and their staff with respect, pay on time, and generate work that fulfills the organization.
Which do you sound like?
Here are examples of companies who are really culturally agile and doing very well.
One is the bank HSBC. For example, when they go into a country first of all they get as much local staff as possible and as much local talent. They develop it very well. But when they send their managers there, their managers stay for decades. Most other companies have a two to three year rotational cycle. For example, German companies. They move into a new country, they are trained by the local staff in local culture and how to do things and then about two to three years into it right when they are really understanding it they get sent back so all of that investment into them understanding it is then taken out and the local staff just gets drained and demotivated by having to do it all over again.
Another example of a company who is very culturally agile in doing things very well is IBM. When IBM, for example, entered China they went over with Singaporeans and American-born Chinese as much as possible. Then they invested very heavily in developing their local talent and they have quite a string of mainline Chinese who are in charge of things. It is actually fairly rare to see someone who is not Chinese in IBM. The other thing where they have gone further beyond their leadership in management is they are localizing their value chains. They are localizing all of their operations to be relevant to the country that they are in. Everyone in the organization has a high level of individual cultural agility. The organization as a whole communicates so one thing doesn’t happen in one country that other people don’t understand. Then finally they localize. IBM is localizing their value chain, meaning that they have specialized logistics, procurement, manufacturing, sales, distribution, service, and support, which are all relevant to the country that they are active in. They are not just taking one global system and imposing it everywhere because quite honestly that is not effective.
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When you look at who must buy into this concept - executives, employee staff members, vendors, customers – really everyone on your team needs to buy into this. Customers are bought in on their own. They have their own cultural approaches that they may or may not be aware of but that is not their business to do this. It is really yours as the executives, the staff members, and down on through to vendors. So it is important that they buy into this concept and that they get good at these skills, however it is to varying degrees.
The first question is, are they customer facing? Are they sales, marketing, executives, customer service, customer support? The other thing too is any vendor who provides services that are customer facing can be as simple as the people who are providing marketing materials, who are providing collateral materials or art so you don’t have to go out and educate every single time. You have a team that is across the board that has these skills of cultural agility.
The second question to ask about who needs to be most culturally agile is, are they working with cross-border teams? Obviously these people really, really need to be culturally agile. You find these people a lot in operations. They are managing virtual teams at every aspect of the organization and this can even be in retail.
The third question to ask when you are determining who needs to be most culturally agile is, are they regulated formally? If they are a group, say finance, who has a legal regulations on top of them they probably don’t need a ton of cultural agility. They need to be aware of the law and so that group you might be able to say not as important as the other ones.
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I am often asked how organizations can strengthen their culture in terms of cultural agility and that is a bit of putting the cart before the horse. The key element is to strengthen the skill of cultural agility.
There are six skills for cultural agility: Awareness, attuned, adapting, authentic, acquiring knowledge, and assessing.
Awareness: The first question there is, “Are you aware of your own cultural biases?
Attuned: Are you able to hear and acknowledge the cultural nuances that are going on around you?
Adapting: That is adapting your communication and behavior in subtle and even overt ways in order to be better received and to create a better relationship with the people who you want to be working with.
Authentic: While you are making these adaptations, while you are listening and everything like that it is important to be true to yourself. Be who you are as a person in order to be able to invite the other person to be who they are as a person. We are not talking about putting something onto ourselves when we are talking about adapting.
Assessing: Assessing how we are doing now, what is our next way to grow as far as cultural agility is concerned, how can we better do this?
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There are two main dangers in growth and one is not taking the risks of growth seriously enough and sort of shooting from the hip and ending up down the path plowing through all of these different problems and risking your brand, risking customer engagement, losing your customer base and finding an inability to grow. That is if you don’t take it too seriously.
On the other hand, taking the risks of growth too seriously to the point of being paralyzed. Holding on so tightly and so fearful of growth that competitors fly past you and eat up what market share you do have while you hold on to a diminishing customer base.
There is however a golden middle between these and it can be navigated very, very well. It takes the preparation, it takes the agility, and it takes the fluidity in order to be able to respond to things as they are happening but have a guide. Have these things thought through in advance. Have swift resolution teams. Do all of these things and then your growth can be truly extraordinary and you can then have the exit or the future that you want.
- Find Talented Employees
- Increase Global Presence
- Manage Cash Flow
- Follow Best Practice For Success
- Leadership for a Healthy Culture
- Invest In Technology
I admit that it would be unfair to fire the people working for us without giving them the tools for professional development, so here it goes. The main skill that would vastly improve political communication is cultural agility. Culturally agile leadership is the ability to create highly functioning relationships with anyone anywhere by quickly understanding and adeptly responding to differing cultural assumptions. The recipe is simple:
1. Be curious enough to understand the assumptions and contexts that other people are working from, without imposing your own personal judgment.
2. Be self-aware about your own cultural biases.
3. Adapt your communication to be relevant to the people you want to communicate with.
This doesn’t mean everyone suddenly agrees on everything. It does, however, infuse communication with a healthy dose of rational humility. This is desperately needed to successfully run an organization that’s the size of the U.S. government.
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