Posts Tagged ‘Entrepreneurship’

Sunday Browsing: Success, Time, and Guest Posts


Hello everyone!

I’ve been taking care of a sick wife this week so I’ve been a little light on posts.  Thankfully my wife is feeling a lot better   and we should be back to a regular posting schedule this week.  I have come across a number of great articles lately so here are some articles for you to check out, as well as a couple of guest posts I had around the web.

1. CNN has an interesting article about entrepreneurs, featuring the inventor of the Segway and asking “when is it time to quit”.

2. Author Leo Babauta of Zen Habits has a great article called The Single Secret to Making 2009 Your Best Year Ever.

3. Pick the Brain shares the Foundations of Success.

4. Seth Godin challenges one aspect of Malcom Gladwell’s book Outliers (book link).

5. Mary Jaksch speaks to the way we use time in How to Make Life Spacious.
My guest posts:

At the blog Fresh Focus… On Productivity! I wrote about How to use RSS for Maximum Productivity

At Stepcase Lifehack, I write about How to Change Your Resume for a Great 2009.

Have a great week!

The Success Professor – Danny Gamache

Posted on January 18th, 2009 by The Success Professor  |  3 Comments »

Entrepreneurship: A Key for Poverty Reduction

Today is blog action day.  All around the world, thousands of blogs will be writing about the same issue – poverty.  There are many ways to combat poverty.  One of the methods that is increasing in importance is microcredit.  Microcredit has come under the world spotlight over the past several years. The United Nations declared 2005 the Year of Microcredit and in 2006, Dr. Muhammad Yunus, considered to be the founder of microcredit, won the Nobel Peace Prize.

What is Microcredit?

Microcredit is the use of small loans to people who are too poor to qualify for standard bank loans. The goal of the loan is to help them move out of poverty by helping them start or expand some form of business known as an income generating activity. The loan is then paid back quickly, generally in one year or less. Payments are made weekly with interest paid as part of those weekly payments. Microcredit caries a natural appeal to people who might be skeptical of traditional methods of international aid because it promotes the idea of a “hand up not a hand out”.

In March of this year I was privileged to take a brief trip to Bangladesh to witness the work of the microcredit division of an organization called Child Development Network.  This was a profound trip that opened my eyes to the issues of global poverty and how microcredit can be used in the fight.

Income Generating Activities – Entrepreneurship

Rickshaw Driver in Dhaka, Bangladesh

Microcredit is all about supporting and developing entrepreneurs.  Loans are made for income generating activities – in other words for small (sometimes very small) businesses.  Some examples from Bangladesh include:

* Rickshaw drivers – one common purchase with a microcredit loan is a rickshaw.  Rickshaws are often used instead of taxis in Bangladesh.  A loan for one rickshaw generally creates two jobs, as the owner will use it for 10-12 hours a day, and then hire an employee to drive it for the remainder of the day.  Enterprising people will turn their profits from their first rickshaw into a second rickshaw that they hire employees for.

Farmer in the slums of Dhaka

Farmer in the slums of Dhaka

* Farmers – in rural areas the farmers are the primary entrepreneurs to benefit from microcredit.  Money is often used for a cow or a bull.  The farmer is able to sell the milk and the calves to create an income, and slowly over time increase their herd.  Even in the slums of

the city entrepreneurs will set up small farms (see photo).

* Small Shops – some entrepreneurs set up small stores with their loans.  These are generally small tin shacks with an open front for customers to come to.  They sell everyday use items such as soap and toothpaste, as well as some basic foodstuffs.

* Fruit and Vegetable stands – similar to the shop owners, some people develop fruit and vegetable stands where they are able to sell fresh produce that has come in to the city from the countryside.

Sewing Shop

Sewing Shop

* Sewing shop – another popular use of microcredit is to purchase a sewing machine and do sewing services for people.  Again, this has the potential to create many jobs as people often will pay off their first sewing machine and use future income to purchase a second machine and start hiring people.

Benefits of using Microcredit

1. Freedom from moneylenders
Microcredit moves the debt out of the hands of moneylenders who charge extremely high rates of interest. These borrowers are not eligible for loans from traditional banks for many reasons. In general, they are not considered to be viable borrowers. Usually, they do not have a suitable form of collateral, many are illiterate, and often the loans are so small that the bank would not make enough profit to cover the costs of completing the paperwork. Because of this, people who are already struggling with severe poverty are forced to go to the money lenders. Much to the surprise of the traditional banks, microcredit organizations tend to have repayment rates around 98%.

2. Creating savings
Many microcredit organizations require beneficiaries to save for the future. Dr. Yunus’ Grameen bank requires that 5% of each loan is saved on a weekly basis in a group fund.  Other organizations save the funds on behalf of the borrowers allowing for the funds to be used only in cases of emergency. Beyond required savings, many microcredit organizations allow borrowers to save at their own initiative. By encouraging people to save for their future they are able to help people prepare for the possibilities of floods, famines or other disasters, as well as saving for future purchases.

3. Empowerment of Women
Another advantage of microcredit is that most loans are made primarily to women. This results in significant empowerment for women in cultures that often have very few rights for women. Empowerment also comes through the relationships that women develop. As women meet weekly with other borrowers they develop relationships that help them both with business growth and other life goals.

4. Providing Other Services
The framework of microcredit provides for the possibility for organizations to provide borrowers with many other services.  The variety of extra services is vast and may include provision of health care and disease prevention, literacy programs, as well as savings and insurance programs. One of the most important services that many microcredit organizations focus on is training. The group approach especially provides opportunity for easy and efficient training whether on business skills, character development.

5. Multiplication of Donations
The donations that are made also have a multiplier effect as the money is often loaned out several times. Each time it is repaid it is loaned out to another beneficiary. This is a big part of what makes it so appealing to donors.  The multiplication effect can be even greater when you consider that more than one job is often started from each loan. As the borrower grows her business, she is able to hire other people increasing the level of employment in the region.

Further, the lending agency should eventually be able to become a self-sustaining enterprise. After an initial period of funding from outside organizations, the lending agency will be able to continue to expand their services to more and more beneficiaries by simply using existing revenues.

6. Poverty Alleviation
Naturally the big benefit of microcredit is that it helps people move out of poverty.  This is a slow and steady process that occurs as borrowers grow their business. As their standard of living increases through their business or other income generating activity the borrowers move past the point of fighting for survival and are able to start dreaming about the future.

It may take a year or two for a borrower to move from $1 a day in income to $2 a day in income. By progressing even in this small way, the borrower is able to substantially improve their life. The goal for borrowers with their extra income is to move to a point where they are not worried on a daily basis about what they will eat. This moves people from a point where they are barely surviving to a point where they are able to start to focus on other goals.  Normally the next goal becomes providing education for their children.

Book Recommendations

Banker for the Poor – Muhammad Yunus – The original book on microcredit, written by the man many consider to be the founder.

A Billion Bootstraps – Thurman and Smith – A thorough book looking at the use of microcredit and related services for poverty alleviation

End of Poverty – Jeffery Sachs – The most important book written in recent years on the topic of poverty

Action Steps

Before blog action day ends today you need to take action.  Here are a few concrete options:

1. Phone your favorite international aid agency and ask them how you can support microcredit through them.

2. Visit  http://www.kiva.org/ to personally loan to an entrepreneur.

3. Sponsor a child through Compassion or World Vision.

Final Comment

Poverty needs to be all of our concerns.  Too often we neglect to care for world wide poverty because it doesn’t hit close to home.  As a Christ-follower, it frustrates me that the Christian church often focuses on secondary (even petty) issues rather than the important work of fighting poverty.  After all Jesus started his ministry with poverty on his heart:

“He went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and on the Sabbath day he went into the synagogue, as was his custom. And he stood up to read. The scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. Unrolling it, he found the place where it is written:
“The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
because he has anointed me
to preach good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
and recovery of sight for the blind,
to release the oppressed,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor. ”

Then he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on him, and he began by saying to them, “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.”  (Luke 4:16-20).

Written by:
The Success Professor – Danny Gamache
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Posted on October 15th, 2008 by The Success Professor  |  6 Comments »

Sunday Browsing: Foolish Productivity, Attacking Your Limitations and Success as an Entrepreneur

Hi everyone,

As we end one week and prepare to start another it can be a great time to reflect on our accomplishments and goals. Tuesday is month end. Do you have any goals you still need to accomplish this month? Why not go for them? Finish the month strong and then use the start of a new month to set new goals and start over!

Here are some great blog posts that I came across in the past week:

The new blog Lateral Action talks about Foolish Productivity.

Get Rich Slowly shares how being a successful entrepreneur Is Not About You.

Think Simple Now has a great article on How to Be Outstanding.

Leo @ Zen Habits writes about how to Attack Your Limitations.

Dumb Little Man shares How to be More Disciplined and Organized When Working From Home.

Here are a couple of blog carnivals that I was a part of this week:

Rich Life Carnival

Working at Home Blog Carnival

The Success Professor – Danny Gamache

If you liked this article, leave a comment below, or subscribe by RSS!

If you are looking for a way to earn extra money, click here!

Posted on September 28th, 2008 by The Success Professor  |  No Comments »

6 Steps to Plan Your Week for Success

Effective planning and goal setting is important. Often we hear lessons about having long-term goals, and annual goals, but to keep on track and keep your business, and life, moving forward the goals and plans to achieve those goals must be broken down into weekly and daily bites. As the famous saying goes, the only way to eat an elephant is one bite at a time. By following these simple steps, you will get more completed, you will accomplish more of the right things, and you will reach more of your goals.

Step #1 – Define your life roles
In his book, First Things First Stephen Covey recommends dividing your life into the various roles you fill. For example, my roles including: my job as a college professor, my role as a blogger, and my work as an entrepreneur. I also have an important role as a husband, and another with my involvement in my faith community.

Beyond these sorts of roles, everyone should also include personal development goals. Covey recommends capping your number of roles at seven. These roles will change from time to time as your life changes, but they should cover the important aspects of your life.

Step #2 – Set goals for each of your life roles
Now that you’ve divided your life into a number of manageable roles it’s important to set goals for each goal. By setting important goals each week in each of your roles, you will be able to keep a better balance in your life. I recommend setting about 2-4 goals in each of your important roles. Now at certain times you will need to be in a period of focused imbalance for a few weeks, putting more efforts into one of the roles than the others, but over the long-term you should remember to always be setting goals in each of the life roles. The goals on this list should be based directly off of your long-term goals. In other words, you should be doing things each week that help you move towards your long-term goals. It is these activities that are your weekly goals.

Step #3 – Schedule all meetings and booked times
Each week you will likely have a number of appointments, meetings and scheduled events that you have to be at. These are things that you can’t avoid as you have to be at a certain place at a certain time. Schedule these into a day planner. I strongly recommend using a planner with a week at a time view. Each week I book in the classes I need to teach, any athletic events I’m participating in, and other meetings and obligations. You should still have plenty of blank space remaining for the rest of your tasks and other meetings that may pop up.

Step #4 – Schedule time for your most important projects
Using your goals list that you developed in step two, schedule the most important ones into the space left in your day planner. Be sure to allow time for goals in each role including those that are not directly professional goals. Allow for time with your spouse and children. Allow time to serve others and time to grow.

Step #5 – On a daily basis plan your next day
Each night before you go to bed, take 10 or 15 minutes with your weekly goals sheet and plan a daily to do list for the next day. Use your weekly goals to plan tasks to do the next day. Write this list in order of importance starting with the most important tasks to complete the next day. Add to this list any phone calls you need to make, emails you need to send or any other small things that may have come up throughout the day. By writing them down you won’t forget any important details. With a daily plan like this when you start each day you will have a list of priorities that correspond to your weekly goals.

Step #6 – Remember people are most important
One risk with any type of weekly or daily plan is that you can become so focused on the goals and schedule that you don’t have time for anyone who comes in your way. You may find yourself angry when you are interrupted by your child or spouse. While some uninterrupted time is important, it is also vital to remember that people are more important than things. Chances are that you are working so hard in order to provide for your family. Don’t neglect the opportunity to act with love towards them now. Use your schedule as a guide but don’t let it control you.

As you follow these steps, be sure to adjust them in anyway you need so that you can be most effective and most efficient at what you do. Set weekly goals, organize your daily tasks and work hard to achieve them. You will reach YOUR goals!

Danny Gamache
The Success Professor
Visit: http://dannyg.makemoreathome.com

Posted on July 29th, 2008 by The Success Professor  |  10 Comments »

6 Success Principles From The Tour de France

Success in the Tour

Photo: Guano

As the 2008 edition of the Tour de France wraps up, it is a good time to reflect on some of the success principles that are evident in the Tour and that can be applied in the rest of our lives.  The Tour de France is a grueling bike race that goes for 21 days (or stages).  The winners (and in to some extent all who compete) follow these success principles.

1. You need to have a good team – The Tour de France, and professional cycling in general, is an individual sport that requires team work.  At the end of each year’s Tour there is only one winner, but the winner needs a strong team to win.  This year’s tour has been dominated by team CSC.  The individual winner is Carlos Sastre from that team.  There are many ways that Sastre’s team helped him win. For example:

  • team members set the pace – especially on the difficult mountain stages, Sastre’s team mates would ride at the front setting the pace for him.
  • team members protect the leader – cyclists generally ride in a group known as the pelaton.  Sastre’s teammates surrounded Satre in the pelaton protecting him in the event of a crash
  • team members help carry the load – throughout the race teammates go back to the team car and bring up water, energy bars and other forms of  sustenance to their team leader.

For success in life and business everyone needs this kind of team.  Who is your team?  If you don’t have one, look for ways to develop a team around you.

2. You need to be prepared for different stages – The 21 stages of the Tour de France are not all the same.  Basically, the stages can be broken down into three categories.  There are flat stages, mountain stages and individual time trials.  Each stage needs a different kind of strategy and mindset.   In a flat stage of the Tour de France, the team leader needs to simply stay with the pack.  They need to make sure no top contendor (ie. anyone with a chance to beat them) gets away.  By finishing with the pelaton the team leader will not lose any time and will continue with his chances to win.

On a mountain stage the team works together to get the team leader over the first mountains, with the knowledge that the team leader may end up all alone on the final climb ready to fight it out with the other top cyclists.  Mountain stages are the most difficult and require the most effort but are were the winners separate themselves from the pack.  On the primary mountain stage of this year’s Tour, Carlos Sastre beat is main competitor by over two minutes.

The final stage type is the individual time trial.  In this stage each individual rides alone against the clock.  There are no teammates and no competitors around to race directly against.  The winner must do well (or excel) during the time trial.

Life has similar stages.  At times you simply need to stay with the pack, rely on your teammates and just keep riding ahead.  At other times you are all alone climbing a mountain.  These times are very difficult, but this is where the biggest rewards are found.  Your team can get you there, but you need to climb the mountain yourself.  Finally, there are times that are just like the individual time trial.  You are all alone.  You have no team, no competitors to mark yourself against, you just need to put your nose down and keep on going.

3.Understand that everybody has a bad day sometime – Over the 21 stages of the Tour it is a common understanding that everyone will have a bad day sometime.  This year was no different.  All of the race favorites had at least one bad day.  Even in his prime, Lance Armstrong had bad days.  The champions are the ones who push through on their bad days and limit their losses.

In life, everyone will have bad days.  In those bad days champions in life, and the Tour, need to maintain a positive attitude, continue to work hard, and rely on our teammates.   We cannot give in to our bad days, let our attitude go negative, or stop working.

4. Persistence Pays Off – Most champions of the Tour exhibit a significant level of persistence.  Lance Armstrong is perhaps the most famous example of this as he persisted through his fight with cancer and subsequent return to cycling.  Sastre also demonstrated persistance having competed in ten prior Tours.  During that time he had 5 top tens including a 3rd and a 4th place finish.

Success does not always happen immediately.  In fact for many it is this kind of persistence which is needed for success.  Too many give up early.  They are satisfied with a ‘top 10 finish’, or give up when they have a significant challenge.  Persistence is a key to success.

5. Ride like you’re wearing yellow – The leader of the Tour de France wears the famous Yellow Jersey to signify their lead.  An interesting thing tends to happen when a rider takes the lead and puts on the Yellow Jersey: they tend to ride better.  Wearing yellow brings out another level in many riders.  This has been seen year after year in the Tour.  This year Sastre entered the final time trial with a minute and a half lead over his top competitors.  Sastre however, is not good at the time trial.  Virtually every expert and commentator figured he would lose the lead.  Spurred on by the Yellow Jersey and the knowledge of the opportunity to win the Tour, Sastre pulled out the performance of his life, droping only 30 seconds of his lead.

Did wearing yellow actually change Sastre’s abilities?  Of course not.  Sastre had the ability to do a good time trial in him all the time.  It took the inspiration from wearing yellow to pull it out of him.  What abilities do you have that you aren’t using?  Live like you are wearing yellow.  Take hold of the things that inspire you and live with that inspiration.

6. Know your goal – When you enter the Tour you need to know your goal.  Each team must set their goals and each individual rider has goals within that.  For some the goal is to win the Tour.  Others aim for a top ten finish, and others simply aim to win an individual stage.    Your goal will determine your strategy.

Once you have determined your overall goal, you then need to set goals for each stage.  Is this a stage you want to attack on, trying to gain time on your competitors? Or is this a stage to defend your current position?  The goal for each stage is set by the team in order to help reach the individual goals within the team.

The same principle is true in other areas of life.  You need to have your overarching goal that you are pursing.  Within the overarching goal you need to break it down into weekly and daily goals.  Knowing what you want to accomplish will set you up for success.

Conclusion

Sastre spoke after his win was sealed, summing up many of these points: “I think the key to our victory was to care for one another. And to take decisions in the right moments, knowing what we wanted and how we wanted it. We believed in ourselves, and that’s how we won the Tour de France.” What is your goal?  Who is your team?  Work towards your goal, know that you will have bad days but persist through the challenges.  Understand that life will take you through different stages but always live like you are wearing yellow.

Posted on July 27th, 2008 by The Success Professor  |  1 Comment »