Heads-Up vs. Heads-Down Thinking

27 01 2012

Recently I read Josh Linkner’s book, Disciplined Dreaming, and I thought I would share his idea of heads-up and heads-down thinking. To be successful as an entrepreneur you must be disciplined and focused, but creativity cannot be overlooked. Heads-down thinking is staying focused to finish the objectives at hand. But how will this separate you from the competition? Everyone is capable of hard work so you cannot expect to be rewarded just by putting in the work. The most successful entrepreneurs have something that their competition doesn’t. Whether it is their strategy, product, or ideas, something differentiates them from the competition. This is what Josh Linkner would refer to as heads-up thinking.

While most entrepreneurs accept the status quo and keep chugging along, the great entrepreneurs put time aside for creativity. Rather than burying their heads in the books and doing things the same way it has always been done, the most successful entrepreneurs focus on possibilities or how they can be different. Be creative in your thinking and embrace new ideas. Set time aside to brainstorm and come up with something new to add to the business. How can you go the extra mile for your customer that your competition is not already doing? What makes your product so special? Challenge the status quo and question your current practices because there just may be something better.

This project does not just end with management. Look to your team members and build their curiosity. You never know where that next great idea will come from. Be open for change and embrace it. You may have built a successful business but someone is always catching up from behind. To stay ahead you have to constantly come up with new ideas and that entrepreneurial spirit should never die. Don’t think of your business as just another business. Think of it as a bunch of businesses with all sorts of opportunities. Be creative and separate yourself from the competition. Put time aside to let your mind run free.


Around the World in 5 Minutes

25 01 2012

Awesome video. Makes you appreciate the world around us. Think about all the opportunity and what we can build. I hope this video gives you all hope and passion because life is too short to be wasting time.

Beautiful Journey

24 01 2012

I have not posted in a while but I felt it necessary to record a little about the emotional roller-coaster it takes to be an entrepreneur. When I last left it seemed I had a plan in place and would not be bothered by any major obstacles. I was wrong! It seemed everything that could go wrong did go wrong. Instead of my website being developed in the two months as originally planned, it has taken six months. My first developer ran into problems so I decided to hire on a new developer to help resolve the issues. This lead to remaking the entire site and running into the exact same problems. It seemed we were going in circles but I didn’t know what else I could do. I was out of options because I was out of money. I had to trust my team of developers and just sit and wait.

We seemed to have hit a wall with no visible progress. I must have exchanged hundreds of emails asking for updates and seeing what I could do to help. I was scared, nervous, and angry. After months of promoting my site I was forced to step back. All of the contacts I had made were now of no use because there was no sign of expanding any time soon. Basically, I had to take a break from the business world until the new site was complete and then start all over meeting new clients.

What kept me sane was my confidence in my product. No  matter how long it would take I knew I could sell my product and because of that I made sure the product was done right. This is a huge step to take. To be able to sit back when things are going no where and have faith in what you are dong. Expect your team to come up with a great product and know even if you have to start over, it is all possible. As an entrepreneur you will always be saddled with stress. Learn how to channel that stress and take it as a blessing. Dig deep into the heart of your product to learn where it can take you. By believing in my product I knew not to let the little things affect me. No matter how much stress came my way, I remained calm. People on my team handled stress in different ways by taking out their frustration. As a leader I cannot let the stress bring me down because that will solve nothing. Instead I preach patience and finding things to do in the meantime. If the problem is out of your hands take a break. Breathing down the neck of your teammates does not promote a healthy work environment, instead it hurts business relationships. Trust your team and let them do their job.

Now the site is finally finished and working great. On the first two days of being back we have seen more activity than ever before. For the first time in six months there is a sense of relief. This feeling will not last long but it is a nice break from the usual grind. Enjoy the moments you have and celebrate the small victories because it is these victories that keep us going. Now I will be looking forward to expansion and branding myself. Stress ebbs and flows like a wave. One day it is as high as a mountain and the next you feel free. Celebrate those stress free moments because you need your strength to take on the next big wave.


25 07 2011

Inspiration is everywhere, you just have to look. Often people become complacent, accepting things for how they are. Don’t fall into this trap. Find something new or find ways to improve what already is. The world is full of opportunities and those willing to take the chance will be rewarded for their efforts.

You never know when that one big idea will hit. For me it happened as I was working my summer job for a venture capital firm in Detroit. This line of work forced me to get in the mindset of finding something better. Before, I always knew I wanted to be an entrepreneur but just settled with the idea that it will come later on. I didn’t actively pursue a new idea. At Detroit Venture Partners I was working exclusively with local entrepreneurs and felt the window was open. Don’t dwell on the obstacles, find the idea and the path will come. An entrepreneur’s biggest mistake is to put off what they can do today. If you have an idea, act on it before it is too late. Someone will always be biting at your heels and being the first to act is key to gaining market share.

I come from a small town called Lake Orion, Michigan. If I am going to call Lake Orion home, then I want to be sure to make it is the best it can be. If you were to purchase a new home, you wouldn’t just keep it empty. Instead, you will decorate it with pictures, plants, furniture, and painted walls. The home is one way to represent who you are just as Lake Orion represents who I am. There is no way to hide it. When the grass gets to long, you cut it. When your roof is leaking, you fix it. I am from Lake Orion and I can’t change that, so why not make it better. In Lake Orion, I noticed a trend of local businesses constantly failing and new ones coming in. There is no growth, only change that is keeping Lake Orion at a standstill. Instead of watching business after business fail, why not find some way to help our business environment. I don’t want Lake Orion to be a place where you don’t even know a business exists until you drive pass it.  My solution is to give businesses a voice in the community. Town My Way aims to develop an online marketing platform for local businesses to reach out to their potential customers directly. I want to create a more vibrant and exciting community where local businesses and consumers can interact on a more personal level.

Ideas don’t come easy, so when you have one, don’t wait but see what you can do today. Surround yourself with innovative thinkers. Hearing how others think influences how you perceive the world. Seeing how change can happen allows you to find ways to make change happen. If you surround yourself with Debbie-downers you may feel as if the world has no hope for change. The fact is the world is open for change, you just have to listen. Find flaws with the world and figure out a way to make it better.

I spent countless hours trying to figure out what an entrepreneur was or how they got their idea. I figured ideas just came magically without having to work at it. This frustrated me because I wasn’t coming up with any good ideas. The problem was I didn’t actively seek out new ideas. I sat back and waited, but the first thing I learned from my summer internship is you cannot afford to wait. Look at the world around you. Think through your typical day. I’m sure there are thousands of nuisances you wish you could avoid or make better. When you see something that can be improved, write it down. Start making a list and figuring out ways to solve those problems. It doesn’t have to be anything major or some revelation that no one else has thought of. Everything can use improvements and it is our job to keep improving the world around us.

Now, my mind never turns off. I can’t walk down the street without discovering new ideas. I no longer see the world for what it is but I see it for what it can be. There is so much potential and I am excited to see what we as a society can create. It doesn’t take one of us, it takes all of us. I will leave you with this short video and all I ask is for you to follow. Leaders can’t create anything great without the support of the people around them. To be successful, you can never do it on your own.