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How a Blank Piece of Paper Can be the Best Tool for Your Small Business

8089254-girl-is-holding-a-blank-paper-sheetStatistically, new small businesses have the odds against them, with more than half failing within the first five years, according to the Small Business Administration.

They’ve hamstrung themselves even more recently with their reluctance to hire new employees. Almost 80 percent of small businesses did little to no hiring this summer, according to the National Federation of Independent Business.

“No new employees, no new ideas, no new projects – too many entrepreneurs have become paralyzed by fear and uncertainty,” says Michael E. Gerber, http://tinyurl.com/DreamingRoom, best-selling author of “The E-Myth: Why Most Businesses Don’t Work and What to Do About It” and creator of the world’s first incubator for entrepreneurs, The Dreaming Room.

Instead of operating out of a place of extreme caution, essentially treading water and just waiting for something good to happen, Gerber says small business owners should sit down with a blank piece of paper and a “beginner’s mind.”

“With that paper in front of you, open your mind to all you’ve never thought of and  create something that doesn’t exist: a product, a service, a system,” he says. “That will awaken your creativity and inspire innovation. Create something new!”

Gerber cites the general lack of consumer excitement over Apple’s newest iPhones, the 5S and 5C.

“They’re not new!” he says. “People have come to expect something truly new every time Apple comes out with something, so they’re disappointed.”

How else can small-business owners reframe their thinking and tap into that spark that initially set them on their course?

• Don’t be so mired in today that you don’t lay the groundwork for infinite possibilities tomorrow. Modesty is often seen as a virtue, but if you’re an entrepreneur, it’s a tragic flaw. What if Steve Jobs’ ambition was to make electronics “a little bit better?” What would the world look like today without iTunes, iPod, iPhone and iPad. Jobs started out with only $5,000 – but also a grand vision that he believed in. Thousands of entrepreneurs see their business as a means of doing their work autonomously; they get by and see this as a win. But that modest success may be a tragic handicap.

• Self-employment is one thing; a thriving business is something altogether different. A small business starts with an idea, but too often the idea is: “I have a talent (or technical skill); I’ll build my business around my execution of that talent.” While this may create the means for self-employment, it closes off the avenues for growth. When a business owner trusts no one else to get the work done, he or she can’t pull away enough to develop new ideas, new products and new opportunities to grow. Find people who can replicate the technical aspects of what you do so that you’re free to explore, experiment and test.

• Make sure everyone is working toward the same goal. A small business is a system in which all parts contribute to the success or failure of the whole. A human body cannot move forward unless all parts cooperate. If your employees are working toward different goals, they’re not only not moving the business forward, they’re not playing as a team. Foster creativity, enthusiasm and energy by clearly communicating the dream and the importance and value of each person’s contribution toward it.

 

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Apple WWDC: What happened on Day 1

David Paul Morris

Workers apply an Apple Inc. logo to the exterior of the Moscone West Center in San Francisco, California, U.S., on Thursday, June 7, 2012. Photographer: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg

If you were hoping for a big surprise out of day one of Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference, you were left wanting.

Day one of the conference, held in San Francisco this week, wasn’t too flashy. (Compare that to Google’s first day, when every developer scored a free Nexus 7 tablet.)

Still, the tech giant offered up plenty of meat and potatoes during the first day. Here are the call outs:

iTunes Radio

A big non-surprise, Apple Inc. unveiled its iTunes Radio. Users create radios stations they want to listen to (similar to Pandora). You can also share those stations with your friends or listen to ones others have created.

Like Pandora, you’ll even be listening to ads (unless you pay a little more).

Read more about iRadio here.

New Air, Pro

Apple also updated its desktop and laptop.

Gone is any kind of tower on the desktop. New is a black cylinder a fraction of the size. The computer also uses flash memory instead of a hard drive, a 12-core Intel Xeon processor and 2.5 times more graphics performance.

“Can’t innovate anymore, my ass,” Apple SVP Phil Schiller told the crowd.

New for the MacBook Air? Nearly double the battery life and the latest Intel chip, as well as a slightly lower price ($999 to $1,099).

Mavericks (and the end of the cats)

Well, they were bound to run out of big cats eventually. Apple said today it was ditching the kitty descriptors for each new version of its operating system and moving to descriptions of places in California. The next one, named after the famous big-wave surf spot near Half Moon Bay, will offer up support for multiple display monitors and file-tagging.

Mavericks also offers up better battery life through new features, faster apps, and an “App Nap” feature that helps idle apps quit taking up your power.

With this update comes a new Safari, too, with LinkedIn and Twitter reading lists.

Design overhaul for iOS 7

Finally, Apple showed off a major overhaul of iOS7 on day one. CEO Tim Cook called it the biggest change to iOS since the iPhone.

The update, which will be available to users this fall, brings changes like a vertical slide to unlock button, translucent app and keyboard icons, updated weather apps and receding control buttons when browsing Safari.

The overall design looks a lot flatter, shifting away from “skeuomorphism — the use of leather, wood and other real-world inspired texture and artifacts in apps.

Companies: AAPL

Shana Lynch is Managing Editor at the Business Journal. Her phone number is 408.299.1831.

 

 

 

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