The Blog

Blog Series 3 – Execution Is Both the King & the Queen in Entrepreneurship

Blog Series 3 – Execution Is Both the King & the Queen in Entrepreneurship

This my last lesson of the many things I learned from QICSI this 2018 summer, at Queen’s University based in Kingston – Ontario, Canada. The first one was the role of mindset in entrepreneurship. The second one was design thinking in identifying problems and evaluating solutions’ alternatives.

The third thing I learned is that the key to the success of a business is about execution, not about the ideas.

Top Reasons for Start-up Failure

When we look at the top 20 reasons startups fail, the top one reason as we discussed earlier is not lacked markets. Ran out of cash, not the right team, get outcompeted, pricing/cost issues, a product without a business model all result from bad execution. Are you surprised?

Execution involves a lot of things. Some major ones, include, putting together a great team, which you can see from this course: https://www.bizskillsacademy.com/courses/vision-team-building-dynamics

Making sure that you build a product or service that users are ready to enjoy and pay for. These are not enough though! For great products, users should be able to help you reach new market segments through referrals. So, validation of the need for a product in the market and validation of the solution being developed will empower the entrepreneur to build a product that is sought by the market. You can find materials relating to this here: https://www.bizskillsacademy.com/courses/market-research/, https://www.bizskillsacademy.com/courses/customer-discovery/, and here https://www.bizskillsacademy.com/courses/competition-mapping/

Role of Liquidity & Related Strategies

Of course in start-ups, the execution has everything to do with liquidity. Does the entrepreneur have readily available cash to fund the required business activities, if not, what are the strategies put in place to make sure that the start-up phase runs as smoothly as possible? It always sounds easy and doable in theory but can you execute and deliver?

Should I opt to hire people? Should I opt to outsource? Should I opt to spend no money at all but issue equity to potential partners and work with them to develop the product r services without spending any cash but by spending time and our skill sets? As simple as they sound, these are very difficult decisions. Execution is even harder! When do I need an NDA? Do I need a shareholders’ agreement? How about legal fees, do we have other alternatives? Etc.

Liquidity and projections of the financial health of the business have made simple and easy as well at BizSkills Academy Inc. Knowing how to do a financial projection properly can help to avoid the risk of running out of cash or pricing/cost issues.

You don’t need to have accounting skills, or to be a financial management expert or a graduate from a business school. We have developed a system and inbuilt courses to help you to just do that, you can scan through lessons or topics here: https://www.bizskillsacademy.com/courses/startup-costs-modelling/ and https://www.bizskillsacademy.com/courses/startup-finance-modelling/.

What Can Be Learned & What Can’t Be Learned?

Finally, all these business elements can be learned from step by step, but not everyone gets the access to the entrepreneurship education resources.

I am lucky that I got the chance to learn about the market, customer analysis, financial planning and project management from QICSI.

Remember that not every school is like Queen’s University. Queen’s provides the entrepreneurial curriculum. Not everybody can afford to learn or know the importance of this knowledge can help me run their business. So that’s why we made BizSkills Academy, a virtual start up a school that provides accessible and affordable entrepreneur knowledge to every individual who wants to set up their own business.

 

By Amey Zhang

BizSkills Academy Inc.

Blog Series 2 – Design Thinking Approach – Lessons Learnt Over the 2018 Summer through QICSI

Blog Series 2 – Design Thinking Approach – Lessons Learnt Over the 2018 Summer through QICSI

Never Had I Learned  Desing Thinking!

The second lesson. After the role of mindset in entrepreneurship covered in the first blog of this series, the next thing I learned is about design thinking. I have always thought this is something that has everything to do with engineers! Needless to say I was wrong!

This is an approach to thinking from a user’s perspective, which helps people to find problems in the community and think about potential solutions from a system-by-system approach taking into account both the positive and negative benfits of the solution design to all stakeholders in a given system.

It sounds crazy but the ability to generate ideas can also be learned. It starts with observation and always goes deep into the insights. We live in a generation where too much information is congested and fed to us, and sometimes, we don’t have time to digest and evaluate what we see and don’t question it.

Always take a step back and think about the “why”.  Always bring a notebook or just type in your phone once you notice something interesting. At first, you might find it hard to find any ideas or anything interesting.

Pushing yourself to come up with three ideas every day can improve your creativity. Your brain muscles also need a regular workout to maintain the flexibility. The top reason startups fail is not lack of markets. If you are creating a solution when there is no problem or the solution can’t really solve the problem, it won’t be a successful business.

Some Common Methods You Have Used!

We are all design thinkers, but we are not aware of this reality. We all apply design thinking, but we are not aware that we do it. It is applicable in our everyday’s life, from thinking of new things all the way to evaluating our own performances.

With this in mind, both structured and unstructured brainstorming will help in the initial phases. Once you have those great ideas, it is now time to move forward to identifying the best suited for the problems identified. Design thinking provides alternatives onto how to go about an informed selection process, again, not as complicated as I had imagined before this summer.

What hit me hard was the system approach to evaluating alternatives. I had never discovered that we live in systems, and everything about us, if critically observed, works in systems. If you are like me, then believe me or not, design thinking can help you change the way you conceptualize and implement projects.

In our courses, we have designed a course on ideation. It doesn’t dwell so much on design thinking, but it has borrowed a lot from designing thinking process in terms of identifying problems in our communities and surroundings which can be turned into business opportunities, prototyping, evaluating solutions alternatives and so on. You can check it from this page: https://www.bizskillsacademy.com/courses/business-ideation

 

By Amey Zhang

BizSkills Academy Inc.

Blog Series 1 – Lessons Learnt Over the 2018 Queen’s University Summer Initiative Program – QICSI

Blog Series 1 – Lessons Learnt Over the 2018 Queen’s University Summer Initiative Program – QICSI

My Surprisingly Greatest Summer!

This past summer, I was selected to participate in the Queen’s Innovation Center Summer Initiative (QICSI) program as an Individual. This is how I met Norman, the founder of BizSkills Acadmey Inc. By the end of the summer, I was part of this great company, set up to serve a very worthy cause, equipping young graduates with an alternative option, over and above seeking employment, empowering them to create their own jobs – transforming them into their own bosses.

Joining BizSkills Academy Inc. was just a tip of the iceberg. What I learned from this program completely changed my mindset, even my perception of and approach to life in general. We all live in our own bubbles indeed.

In this blog series, I and our co-founder will discuss the top three lessons, each one of us learned this 2018 summer.

A Bit About my Background

My name is Amey Zhang Coming from a normal middle-class Chinese family, both of my parents work 9-5 and my goal is always finding a decent job and live the way my parents do. I used to feel that an entrepreneur is a genius that always comes up with great ideas.

I didn’t think about starting my own company because I don’t think of myself as a creative person or as someone who has the capability to create a business from zero. I used to think that some people were born to be entrepreneurs as they were born smart and passionate, risk takers and many more other attributes!

It turns out that I was wrong. The entrepreneurial spirit is a skill like driving or cooking, a skill that can be learned, sculpted and improved.

What Do You Know About the HBDI?

The first thing I learned in the summer is about having a growth mindset. The first day of the boot camp, all the cohorts did the Herrmann Brain Dominance Instrument (HBDI) assessment. It is true that everybody has a different brain, and our brain dominance leads us to think from a different perspective and make us better at one thing than the other.

However, there is no evidence that entrepreneurs have a specific pattern on the brain profile. People could be completely red or blue or they can be a double dominate, triple dominate or full brain. No profile is better than the other. It is all about how to optimize your own strengths and build empathy with others. You create your own path. You identify your own team in your organization or company. So, you have more control than you think, but first, you must believe that you indeed have that control.

Successful entrepreneurs come from completely diverse backgrounds and have different brain dominance.  Having a growth mindset let me realize that even if you don’t have a skill, it can be learned and improved. Introverts can have excellent public speaking skills.

We can always improve our skills by learning from others, by practicing repeatedly. It might take you a long time to learn a certain thing than some other people and it’s okay. All you need to know is don’t let your own mindset limit your ability and potential.

To help early stage and potential entrepreneurs learn how to maximize mindset in entrepreneurial activities, this course, https://www.bizskillsacademy.com/courses/growth-mindset, has been designed to help individuals, teams and start-up entrepreneurs learn and practice it, over and over. Enjoy it! we designed it to just help people maximize their mindsets in entrepreneurship.

 

By Amey Zhang

BizSkills Academy Inc.

The Top 3 Entrepreneurship Lessons I Have learned

The Top 3 Entrepreneurship Lessons I Have learned

Three decades ago, young people’s dreams were to become pilots, doctors, astronauts and so on. Entrepreneurship featured very low on the list if it did at all.

Today, with the rise of entrepreneurship, more and more young people are increasingly attracted to titles such as CEO, CTO, Founders etc.

While more and more people are attracted to being recognized as CEOs, one wonders if they would as well be attracted to the journey involved in getting to that title itself. There is a reason why only 7% of the population has been successful in entrepreneurship.

I studied the experiences of successful entrepreneurs in their early journeys, consulted other people, borrowed from my own experience, and finally, I realized, I have learned three key lessons throughout this process.

Three Lessons Learned So Far

First, entrepreneurship is hard, more difficult than we think or we can even handle from a general perspective. A ready mindset, a great team, a life purpose and ability to harvest some low hanging fruits (step by step achievements) is what will increase someone’s resolve and tenacity.

Secondly, we mostly see stories of entrepreneurs at their peak of success; very few people will honestly share the facts about the early stage journey to entrepreneurship. It is ugly, it is dirty, it is mental. You had better be ready if this is the path you are choosing or have chosen.

Today, when I read the book, “Small Fry” by the late Steve Jobs’ daughter, I encounter another side of Steve I never thought he had. With the internet and social media, we are learning that the suicidal rate among entrepreneurs keeps growing. So, entrepreneurship can be mentally draining.

 

Thirdly, the old school belief that people who failed at other things, school dropouts for example; were more likely to turn out into entrepreneurs that are more successful.

I completely disagree with this notion. What other people define as failing at that particular stage of these entrepreneurs’ lives, is actually not failure parse, but rather, the gift to understand themselves. The gift and power to make difficult decisions that majority of us are afraid of making, which puts them in a state where they have no option, but to go in more than 100% determination and commitment to success.

Remember that such entrepreneurs are aware that they closed those other doors or life avenues, so they do it with passion and determination you have never seen before It is more like a life purpose to them than a profession.

 

Living on Terms with your Life Purpose

With these three lessons, if you are watching this video today or reading this blog post, you have two main options for living in this world. Just two main options!
Option number one, spend the rest of your life regretting and winning about missed opportunities because you were busy doing something you don’t like; working for others for example.
Or
Option number two, work hard to understand yourself and your life purpose, and then dedicate yourself to that, which makes you live the best you can live in this world. Again, this can be entrepreneurship or work in an organization that serves what you perceive to be your life mission and you have the ability to shape how that goes, so you are happy with the periodic achievements.

As I conclude this blog/ vlog series, I have hardly recalled a conversation with colleagues at work, acquaintances, and the network of people who are 100% happy staying in their jobs! The only majority of the politicians and high ranking corporates are happy with what their professions have become, the rest majority of ordinary professionals, it is a matter of fifty-fifty… a limbo so to say!

Unfortunately, I do not have a job today, but if I had a job; I would honestly start a small side hustle. I would try to build it up slowly using a percentage of my salary and current skill set. If a time comes when the side hustle starts generating more than the salary I earn, I would consider taking an unpaid leave, study leave, or some sort of leave, for a few months to give it 100% of my time. If it works out, to hell with that job!

What are your thoughts on this topic, let us know what you think.