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Why Businesses Fail: Part 1

When it comes to business, what you don’t know will cause failure.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, an estimated 20% of businesses fail within the first year. 30% fail within the second year, half, 50%, will fail within the fifth-year, and almost three-fourths, 70%, fail within the tenth year. While there are a million views as to why businesses fail, it comes down to one problem—lack of business education. To avoid having your business turn belly-up, here are some basic business rules to follow before you open shop.

Thorough Research is a Strong Start to Any Business

As easy as it is to jump feet-first into your business idea, it is crucial that you take the time to develop your product or service as well as your company’s foundation.

While this sounds simple enough, you need to consider:

-       Why are you starting this company? Is it just for income or is this your passion?

If you’re passionate about the industry you want to do business in, keep pushing forward! If not, it’s been suggested that you reallocate your focus on something that is of interest.

-       Is there a need or a market for what your business is offering?

There is no point in starting a business when there is not a demand for your product or service. While considering the market, be sure to think about where you are located and the possible customers you would have within the area.

-       What type of business do you want to develop?

Do you want to have a sole proprietorship, a limited liability company (LLC), general partnership, limited partnership, corporation, etc.?) This is the stage to determine how much responsibility you want to have should something occur within your business.

-       Where would your product or service thrive?

As with determining if there is a market for your business, you need to determine the best location for your industry. While you should contemplate a physical location, another area to explore is digital. How will you want your business conducted? Online or a physical store?

-       Who is your target audience? Who will purchase your product or service?

Catering a product to the right audience is not only strategic marketing, but it is also smart business. To stay in business, you need repeat customers as well as new that have a need (or want) for your product or service. Determine the demographics of those who would be interested in your business concept and compare it to the location you are looking at conducting your business.

-       What competition will you face? How will you diversify your product or service to compete in the competitive market?

The beauty of a mixed economy in the United States is in the ability to protect private property and to allow economic freedom while permitting the government to step in should there be any conflicts. With business-freedom comes business-competition. It is essential to consider how your company will differentiate its product or service in the marketplace. Knowing your target audience will provide insight into what is important to them and then catering to your product or service.

For nearly a century, Junior Achievement (JA) has focused on programming to educate youth in three areas-- entrepreneurship, financial literacy, and work readiness. As a result, JA Alumni are 2 ½ times more likely to start a business compared to the general population. Through the JA Company Program, students learn how to successfully start and maintain a thriving business.

 

Click here to see the JA Company Program in action!

Teens lack of retirement Knowledge Should Scare You

Think about a teen that you know. How much do you think he or she knows about retirement? Where have they, if at all, learned about the topic of saving for their future after they retire from their career?

These questions were the driving force behind Junior Achievement’s (JA) 2018 Teens and Retirement survey.

Overview:

From August 13th and August 20th of 2018, Junior Achievement USA, American International Group, Inc. (AIG), and Wakefield Research conducted an online survey focused on teens understanding of saving for their future retirement.

Retirement Findings (according to Teens)

Presented by: American International Group, Inc. (AIG) 

JA Teens & Retirement Methodological Notes

The JA/AIG Survey was conducted by Wakefield Research (www.wakefieldresearch.com) among 1,000 nationally representative U.S. teens, ages 13-18, who are not currently enrolled in college, between August 13 and August 20, 2018, using an email invitation and an online survey.  Results of any sample are subject to sampling variation. The magnitude of the variation is measurable and is affected by the number of interviews and the level of the percentages expressing the results. For the interviews conducted in this particular study, the chances are 95 in 100 that a survey result does not vary, plus or minus, by more than 3.1 percentage points from the result that would be obtained if interviews had been conducted with all persons in the universe represented by the sample.

Hispanic Heritage Month: Hispanic Entrepreneurs

Hispanic Heritage Month celebrates the histories, cultures, and contributions of Latin-Americans from September 15thto October 15th. Junior Achievement is sharing the stories of Hispanic entrepreneurs who are making an impact in today’s business landscape. 

 

Image by Carlos Meléndez / Google+

Carlos Meléndez- Co-founder & COO of Wovenware

Electrical Engineering graduate from the University of Puerto Rico Mayaguez Campus, Carlos Meléndez took a detour from his graduate degree from the University of Puerto Rico School of Law to pursue his talent in software engineering. In 2003, Meléndez became the COO and co-founder of Wovenware, a software company that specialized in artificial intelligence, deep learning, machine learning and more! 

 

 

Image by CQfluency

Elisabete Miranda– President & CEO of CQ Fluency 

Elisabete Miranda learned from experience that the English language is a struggle for those who don’t speak it, which sparked her to launch her business, CQ Fluency. The communications company focuses on facilitating “real connections and true cultural understanding between people who don’t speak the same language.” Through their reliable translation and cultural adaptation services, their multicultural tools equip their clients to communicate to a diverse audience. 

 

Image by Medium

Tricia Martinez – Founder & CEO of Wala

Known for her knowledge in cash transfer solutions in areas like Africa, to her development of an investment fund for underserved markets, Tricia Martinez is an international expert in behavioral economics. After many entrepreneurial and economic endeavors, Ms. Martinez was inspired to test “incentives models” to influence financial behaviors. It was at this point that Martinez created Wala. As advertised on the Wala site,Wala is a “zero-fee money app” that aims to guide its users towards financial freedom. 

 

To discover more influential Hispanic business founders, click here.

 

Hispanic Heritage Month: Hispanic Business Leaders

Hispanic Heritage Month is a time to recognize and celebrate the histories, cultures, and contributions of Latin-American from September 15th to October 15th. The celebration started as just a week in 1968 by President Johnson and was later expanded into a month by President Reagan in 1988.  During this time of celebration, we, Junior Achievement, want to take a moment to recognize some of the most influential (and successful) Hispanic business leaders in America today.

 

Geisha Williams – President & CEO of PG&E

In 1967 Geisha Williams and her parents came to the United States from Cuba. While she didn’t speak English, Williams was establishing her work ethic to achieve her present-day success. She watched as her father saved enough money to purchase a grocery store in New Jersey, which later expanded into Florida. Williams graduated with an engineering degree from the University of Miami and became the first in her family to receive a college education. She fell in love with the energy industry after she held a summer job at a local power company. Through the “power of mentorship”, Williams joined PG&E in 2007. A decade later, she was named the President and CEO. 

 

 

 

“A mentor gives you the straight scoop and they look you in the eye and if you have a great mentor and — I’ve had the privilege of having great mentors in my life — they will tell you how it is.” – Geisha Williams

 

Pedro J. Pizarro – President & CEO of Edison International

How does one become the president of one of the country’s largest electric utility companies? Hard work and moving up the ladder. Before Pedro Pizarro was the President & CEO of Edison International, he was the Director of Strategic Planning in 1999. He was then elected as Vice President of Technology Business Development the following year. In 2001, he became the Vice President of Strategy and Business Development and General Manager of Edison Carrier Solutions. From October 2014 to May 2016, Pizarro served as President of Edison International and then in October of 2016, he became Chief Executive Officer.

 

 

 

“My philosophy for building an exceptional business is simple: Hire, retain and promote exceptional people, and create an environment where every team member feels like an owner.” - Pedro J. Pizarro

 

Michele Docharty – Co-Head of Global Synthetics Products Distribution / Global Head of Corporate Access, Securities Division, Goldman Sachs

After graduating from Georgetown University with a BSBA (Bachelor of Science in Business Administration) in 1989, Docharty became a Financial Analyst before holding sales positions within the US and Latin America. In 1999, she was made Managing Director and then in 2010 she was made partner. Her ambition within the workplace is as impressive as her passions outside, where she is a member of the Diversity Committee of the Americas and has actively engaged in diversity initiatives at Goldman Sachs, as well as participated within the Alliance of Multicultural women.

 

“I strongly believe, without question, that diversity is very good for business. We need different perspectives and skills to really maximize revenue for the firm and to keep our culture best in class.” – Michele Docharty

 

While these are just a few business leaders who are changing the world, there are far more. To discover them, click here

Soft Skills 101: Communication

Have you ever stopped to think what messages you’re communicating as you sit in front of your computer or while you’re stuck in traffic? While you may not be conscious of your nonverbal signals, others around you are decoding your messages.

Today, hiring managers and recruiters have placed communication skills at the top of their desired employee skills. By rank, these are the top 10 communication skills they are looking for:

1.     (Active) Listening

-       Communication is not possible without one of the parties digesting and processing what is being said or shown. As a member of the audience, it’s crucial that you pay close attention to what the other person is saying, asking questions when you feel confused, and even paraphrasing back to the speaker to provide more clarification.

2.     Nonverbal Communication

-       This would have to be one of the stealthiest communication styles. Most of the time we cross our arms, slouch in our chair, or even continue with a text or email without considering what we are communicating. Instead, work on your eye contact with who is speaking, show you are able to have an open dialogue by keeping your arms placed in your lap.

3.     Clarity and Concision

-       We all know someone who loves to talk. In turn, it makes those around him or her feel as if their time is not respected as well as makes it difficult for anyone else to engage in the conversation. Make sure you’re keeping the road a two-way street by keeping what you have to say short, sweet and simple.

4.     Friendliness

-       The way we welcome someone with a smile or with an upbeat and sincere tone in voice increases the likelihood that an individual will want to speak to you again. Should your interaction not be face to face or over the phone, you can make yourself seem friendlier and welcoming by adding a genuine side-note to an email such as saying, “I hope you had a great weekend!”

5.     Confidence

-       Displaying confidence is more than just walking with perfect posture and standing tall when speaking to others. Confidence can be shown through a serious (but approachable) tone of voice or by merely ensuring what you are saying comes across as a statement, not a question.

6.     Empathy

-       Empathy does not come easy during a heated discussion; yet, it is essential to remember effective communication incorporates respect and openness. The next time you disagree with someone, acknowledge where they are coming from and express your point of view in a calm, clear manner.

7.     Open-Mindedness

-       The beauty of communication is the ability to share ideas, opinions, feelings and more! The only way to absorb these elements is by being willing to comprehend and consider what another person is telling you.

8.     Respect

-       This concept can be harder than it looks. Different cultures and environments make it challenging to be respectful in communication. For example, in grade-school, you can recall having to raise your hand to answer or ask a question. As you made your way into the workplace, you found that you no longer need to raise your hand to speak. The environment in which you were in determined how you were to communicate.

9.     Feedback

-       In the workplace, it is crucial that all associates can take criticism AND positive feedback from their managers. Instead of viewing negative feedback as an unacceptance of you or your work, look at it as a way for you to get better.

10.  Picking the Right Medium

-       Finally, choosing the right channel to discuss topics is crucial. You wouldn’t text your boss to discuss a promotion, would you? It’s important to know what methods of communication are appropriate for the subject at hand.

 

Think you are a communication Rockstar? Try one of the following tests to find out!

 

Want to see how JA is helping to promote soft skills, like communication? Check out JA Career Success.

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