Tag Archives: Faisal Hoque

5 Things You Need To Be A Successful Entrepreneur

Serial entrepreneur and author Faisal Hoque is the founder of SHADOKA and other companies. His newest book is “Everything Connects: How to Transform and Lead in the Age of Creativity, Innovation and Sustainability” This blog first appeared in Business Insider.

To be an entrepreneur, you have to be willing to jump into the deep end. And that takes courage.

But courage is just the beginning. At a fundamental level, most entrepreneurs need to repeatedly overcome adversity and pursue opportunities with very limited resources.

My path as an entrepreneur has been marked by the adversity I’ve experienced in my own life and the struggles I’ve witnessed in the lives of others.

Here are the five essential things that I believe are must-haves for any successful entrepreneurial journey:

1. A companion

Nobody succeeds in a silo. The majority of life’s travels include a partner or two or many. Be it a significant other, friend, or business colleague, you are most likely to have some company. If I’ve learned anything from my entrepreneurial journey, it’s that your choice of partners — be it a life partner, cofounder, management team, investors, or board members — can make or break a venture.

The people you surround yourself with are the difference between failure and success. It’s also how you interact with them that makes the difference. It’s important to be reminded of the people who believe in and support you and to cultivate those relationships. Spending time with people who make you stronger requires intentional effort and is a key component in being able to move forward.

Equally important is to avoid people who bring you down, waste your time, take you backward, and have no interest in your suffering. A close friend constantly reminds me to “get rid of toxic people from your daily life.” While you cannot always avoid them, at a minimum you can choose not to allow them to weaken you.

Your job, then, is to continuously search for those right companions at each new stage. It is only when the right person shows up that you see why it has never worked out with anyone else.

2. Good timing

The timing of your product or service must be right in the marketplace. If the market isn’t ready and you are way ahead of the market, then you must possess the drive and the willingness to sacrifice in order to make that product or service work.

You will need to choose to either wait for the market to catch up (requiring the resources to survive during that period, and accepting the risk of emerging competition), or you’ll need to adjust your offering to something more palatable to the market’s current readiness.

Smaller businesses have the advantage of being able to make choices and implement changes without the exhaustive process and conflicting points of view that slow down major corporations. You need to anticipate your market and customers’ needs and constantly innovate to stay ahead. This requires leadership with agility, resilience, and a willingness to fail — and to recognize that failure quickly enough to adapt and move forward.

3. Connection with your audience

Today’s innovative “social economy” requires entrepreneurs to create positive memories for customers and partners, or customers will turn to a competitor in search of a better experience. If you want to create a scalable business, you have to understand just how crucial it is to build products and services with brand equity and emotional connections. The emotional attachment that links customers to your products, as opposed to any other, translates into sustainable growth.

Here are some basic rules to connect, shape, influence, and lead with your products and brands:

  • Choose your target audience: The surest road to product failure is to try to be all things to all people and to be overly complex. 
  • Connect with the public: Your objective is to make your audience feel an emotional attachment to your products and brands.
  • Inspire and influence your audience: A simple, inspirational product and brand message is far more influential than one that highlights many product features and functions.

Here’s more on the topic of audience connection and value creation:

4. Scale

Creating a unique product and a unique brand isn’t enough. It takes repeatable sales processes to create a scalable business. It is one thing to sign up a few customers; it is another thing entirely to identify, design, and implement repeatable sales and customer-delivery processes. You have created a repeatable and scalable sales model when:

  • You can add new hires at the same productivity level as the entrepreneur or the sales leader.
  • You can increase the sources of your customer leads on a consistent basis.
  • You have a sales conversion rate and revenue that can be consistently forecasted.
  • The cost to acquire a new customer is significantly less than the amount you can earn from that customer over time.
  • Customers get the right product in the right place at the right time.

A repeatable sales model builds the platform to scale. Like the search for product and market fit, it can take major experimentation and R&D to find a repeatable and scalable sales model.

5. Ways to de-stress

Most entrepreneurs consider managing the ongoing success of their business to be twice as stressful as maintaining a healthy relationship with a spouse or partner, nearly three times as stressful as raising children, and more than four times as stressful as managing their personal finances.

The stressors can be relentless. But if you’re not happy, healthy, and motivated, you can’t create a business model that provides a positive market experience. You set the tone for everyone who works with you. Nobody wants to do business with a grouchy, bitter, and exhausted entrepreneur. Therefore, investing the time and effort to adequately take care of your physical and mental well-being will further increase your chances for long-term success.

Mental health is not just about going to the gym to let off steam. It’s about achieving a state of mental calmness to see you though the relentless challenges — but that’s another topic in itself!

To learn more about entrepreneurship, try Faisal Hoque’s SoundviewPro online course How to Develop an Entrepreneurial Mindset.

5 Tips For Working Smarter, Not Harder

Our guest blogger Faisal Hoque is founder of SHADOKA and other companies.  His newest book is “Everything Connects”. This blog first appeared at Fast Company.

Working smarter requires a combination of critical thinking, discipline, and techniques that we can employ for making continual progress

Regardless of our background, location, or profession, there is one language that is the same, and that language is the language of progress.

Progress certainly comes from putting in the hard work, but working hard is not enough. To achieve our desired outcome, each one of us needs to find our own ways to work smarter.

Working smarter requires a combination of critical thinking, discipline, and techniques that we can employ for making continual progress.

Here are a few techniques that I find helpful:

1. Assess Everything That Needs To Be Done

There is a saying that 80% of our accomplishments come from 20% of our efforts. So what 20% of our work is the most valuable? Once we’ve identified it, focusing the lion’s share of our time and energy in that direction creates progress.

Selecting the right success indicators to drive our activities creates the tasks we can knock out first for greatest impact. Here are three fundamentals for assessing potential for success:

  1. Closely examine your strategy and execution methods from the perspective of your particular situation.
  2. Next, articulate and analyze the impact of your work on yourself, your team, partners, and customers.
  3. Finally, evaluate your own ability to execute, focusing on your assets structure, and capabilities.

2. Limit Your Short-term Goals

Once we have our long-term goal stated as an intention, we need to break it down. Let’s say your intention states a five-year goal. Where do you want to be in one year along the journey?

Let’s say that you want to build a new company. Your new company will offer a unique product. Your year one goal may include developing, commercializing, and market validation of offerings. Your first 30-days goal may solely focus on defining the purpose, audience, and the usage of the product.

Where do you want to be on your journey in the next three months? Perhaps doing market research, positioning, and developing the first version of the product. And so on.

It is very tempting to focus on many goals at once. As we mature our own personal techniques and disciplines, it is very possible to be involved in multiple initiatives. However, limiting goals for each initiative to measureable outcomes is what allows us not to overwhelm ourselves into a state of submission and defeat.

3. Work To Your Own Cycle

Our bodies work in cycles. There are times of the day that are most productive as well as times that are quite the opposite. The most effective way of staying productive is to learn your cycle. Which times of the day do you find that you complete the most tasks as well as those times in which all you can think about is taking a break?

For example, my maximum peak of productivity and efficiency generally occurs between 4:00 am and 11:00 am, so I prefer not setting up meetings during those hours.

Studies show that, on average, our brains are only able to remain focused for 90 minutes; then we need at least 15 minutes rest. This is based on the ultradian rhythm, the body’s “basic rest-activity cycle.”

By taking period breaks roughly every 90 minutes we allow our minds and bodies to refresh and be ready to fire off another 90-minute period of high activity.

4. Create, Modify, Reuse, and Automate

The biggest lesson from my computer science schooling was the concept of reusability. In computer science and software engineering, reusability is the use of existing assets in some form within the software product development process. More than just code, assets are products and by-products of the software development life cycle and include design and implementation technique. Reuse implies the creation of a separately maintained version of the assets.

This notion of reusability can be applied to anything we do. For example, as an author, I first write small blogs, the blogs turns into feature length articles, and articles become the basis of a new book.

Reuse is what gives us speed and efficiency without reinventing the wheel every time we want to create a new asset.

Much has been written about the benefit of automating repeated tasks. Automation can be a great personal and organizational productivity method. For example, you can use a social media scheduling system that posts your content on social media platforms regularly versus you posting repeatedly at different times of the day.

The trick is being conscious enough to connect the dots between our past, present, and future.

5. Summon Your Willpower

In her book Maximum Willpower, Professor Kelly McGonigal talks about three different aspects of willpower; I will, I won’t, and I want.

Understanding these three areas of willpower is key to reaching our productivity goals.

Having the I won’t willpower is saying no to things that will keep you from achieving your tasks such as getting easily distracted with emails, social media, and lengthy useless conversations with others.

The I will willpower is having the will to focus on productivity. As an example, we can use social media to move our work forward or we can choose to become addicted to self-entertainment.

The I want willpower is to remember the end goal and the reason why we are doing what it is that we are doing. Consistently exercising our willpower keeps us focused—and that takes disciplined practice.

You can learn more about techniques for entrepreneurs in Faisal Hoque’s SoundviewPro course, How to Develop an Entrepreneurial Mindset.

10 Things Everyone Should Know Before Becoming An Entrepreneur

Today’s guest blogger is Faisal Hoque, a self-professed “devoted student of life, entrepreneurship and humanity. Originally Published at Business Insider.

Business literature is filled with definitions of entrepreneurship. And we often speak of entrepreneurship within a tech or startup space, though surely the family running your neighborhood market is also an entrepreneur. Many people around the globe are forced to become entrepreneurs just to survive. 

Unfortunately, there is no exact formula for entrepreneurship. Rarely one finds overnight success. There are no quick fixes. It is unique for each individual. 

For me, entrepreneurship started with the need to survive, then moved on to fulfill my dream, and finally graduated to a need to make a difference (in whatever small way I can). But in many ways, the challenge remains the same. 

I have learned many things through trials and tribulations:

1. There is no substitute for love. 

The great poet Rumi once said: “What you seek is seeking you.”

Sooner or later, our entrepreneurial journey needs to support what we each love to do. It is only when we find the love of our true calling that we find inspiration to fight for our purpose. Our love drives our passion — gives us the energy for the long haul. 

And to discover such love, it takes self-awareness and connecting with ourselves. 

2. You are your greatest investment. 

In rough waters when there is no one to call upon, it is our skills that save us. Mastering our skills requires utter devotion. It is only through daily devotion that we improve our authentic craft. Devotion is our best sustainable self-investment. 

Devotion is what gives us the daily dose of confidence. You can lose everything, but no one can take your authentic craft. 

3. Mindfulness helps you survive.

Several decades ago, the term mindfulness was used to imply Eastern mysticism related to the spiritual journey of a person, originated by Gautama Buddha.

Today, psychologists define mindfulness as “bringing one’s complete attention to the present experience on a moment-to-moment basis” (Marlatt & Kristeller, 1999). Being mindful allows us to focus and execute one task at a time.

More importantly, being in the moment allows us to escape from adversity and conserve our inner energy.

4. Suffering needs to be your friend.

I love this Japanese proverb: “Fall seven times, stand up eight.”

The more things we try, the more likely we are to fail. And that’s very much the essence of being an entrepreneur. 

Failure and adversity inherently invokes pain, suffering, and disappointments. Accepting and growing through our pain is part of entrepreneurial growth. This is hardly easy. Like any other skill, learning to suffer well requires conscious practice and learning. It is only when we learn to welcome suffering, we are able to get up repeatedly. For an entrepreneur, pain is a must — therefore suffering needs be optional.

5. You need to inspire yourself every day.

Inspiration can come from anywhere and anyone. Mine often comes from meditation, cooking, writing, listening to music, or watching movies.

For example, writing allows me to consciously put these positive reaffirmations on paper to visualize my destiny. I have also found writing is therapeutic for coping with my adversities. It allows me to turn my anger, fear, and disappointments into inspiration for myself and my readers. It serves as stress relief when I try to turn negative into positive by finally expressing what I feel down deep inside.

6. Avoid people who hold you back.

We all know that the people we surround ourselves with make the difference between failure and success. If you’ve ever been around someone who leaves you feeling exhausted and drained, you have probably encountered an emotional vampire. These people don’t drain your blood, but they do drain your vital energy. Emotional vampires can be found anywhere. 

It is important to avoid people who bring us down, waste our time, take us backward, and have no empathy in our suffering. Make a deliberate effort to spend time only with people who uplift you and make you stronger.

7. Believing in chance encounters moves us forward.

In any journey — entrepreneurial or otherwise — there are many encounters. Some are planned; some are by accident; and some by divine intervention. I have had many amazing “chance encounters,” where it seems as if the universe rallied to come to my aid when I needed the help most. 

They have occurred when least expected — and many of the people I’ve encountered have become business partners, friends and family. And whenever those encounters initially left me with a “negative” experience, they turned out to be much-needed lessons for me. I believe chance encounters happen to those who remain optimistic no matter what. 

8. Saying “no” and making tough calls is essential. 

It takes more courage to say “no” than to say “yes.” But if we do it, we protect ourselves from making poor decisions. This tactic can help us stay focused and prevent unnecessary complexity and wrong turns. It can also keep us from getting involved with the wrong people.

Dr. Judith Sills in Psychology Today writes:

“There’s a lot of talk, and a lot to be said, for the power of Yes. Yes supports risk-taking, courage, and an open-hearted approach to life whose grace cannot be minimized. But no — a metal grate that slams shut the window between one’s self and the influence of others — is rarely celebrated. It’s a hidden power because it is both easily misunderstood and difficult to engage.”

9. Being intentionally omnivorous allows us to be diverse. 

An ongoing part of identity building — both in our individual working lives and as part of a team — is to practice inviting a breadth of experiences, a pool of experiences from which we can draw on later in life. When journalists ask artists the lazy question “Where do your ideas come from?” the answer can only be this: their experiences.

To gain a diversity of experience, it requires entrepreneurs to be intentionally omnivorous.

10. Treating yourself kindly is a must.

In his book, “The Art of Happiness,” His Holiness the fourteenth Dalai Lama wrote, “If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion.”

Entrepreneurs are often very hard on themselves. For many, even though it may be easy to show compassion to others, it may be hard to accept, embrace, and be compassionate toward ourselves. Some of us blame others for all our miseries and some blame ourselves. Often it’s easy to blame oneself, feel sorry, and/or put oneself down. It is only through being able to let go, have compassion for oneself, and self-encouragement that we can pursue a long-lasting journey.

Learn more about entrepreneurship at Faisal Hoque’s SoundviewPro course How to Develop an Entrepreneurial Mindset.

9 Essential Principles to Create, Lead, and Sustain

Today’s guest blog is from Faisal Hoque, founder of Shadoka. Originally Published at  Fast Company.

With the cascade of new technologies and social changes, we are constantly challenged to spark creativity, drive innovation, and ensure sustainability.

What are the remedies? How do we work with ourselves and others?

The newest problems of the world find solutions in the oldest timeless practices like mindfulness, authenticity, and devotion—because everything connects.

Connectivity is a sense of journey, to the sense of purpose—it is an individual, lonely pursuit and a collective, companionable one at the same time.

Our individual, interpersonal, and organizational working lives all interconnect. By examining these connections, we learn new ways to create, innovate, adapt, and lead.

From our new book Everything Connects: How to Transform and Lead in the Age of Creativity, Innovation and Sustainability, let me dig a little deeper on how we can work with ourselves and others by connecting seemingly disparate dots.

How do we connect daily life with who we are?

1. Understanding is the foundation. The better we understand the nature of the world, the better we can move in the world. The better we understand the nature of ourselves, the better we can move within ourselves. This is why generations of thinkers and doers have told us in a multitude of ways to know ourselves—an intrapersonal intimacy that is the fruit of a long process.

2. Understanding leads to authenticity. When you know yourself, you can act with a confidence that is your own. This implies a rawness and vulnerability to the people around you, which is a very good thing, as that vulnerability is the foundation of the relationships that define us.

3. Devotion is mindfulness, mindfulness is devotion. You do not become strong by lifting one gigantic weight. You do not understand yourself by reading one book or attending one workshop. It is a daily practice of devotion. Devotion is our sustainable resource. With it we can day by day improve ourselves, our teams, and our world.

How do we inspire and lead inside and outside of our organizations?

We need to explore understanding that leads to long-term sustainability, the way to act in a manner that promotes mutual flourishing, and how, crucially, a leader can urge us along this process.

1. Give people freedom. People need freedom to do their best work, people need to feel they’re able to bring all of their effort into the task, which requires an open, autonomy-oriented culture.

2. Give people structure. But this is not anarchy; with freedom comes responsibility. Responsibility can be ensured with both quantitative and qualitative methods and springs from a thriving culture.

3. Curate talent. When we assemble lasting organizations, we’re gathering people around a common cause. When the right people are gathered in the right way, the whole becomes greater—perhaps much greater—than the sum of its parts. Gathering the right people at the right time in their lives, in the right combination of talents, is curation.

How do we to generate ideas, grounded decisions, and long-lasting value?

We need to arrange our lives and our organizations in a way that leads to long-term value creation: surveying the subtle and not so subtle arts of idea generation, decision-making, and creating continuous value.

1. Ideas arise from curiosity. Experiences are the fuel of creativity. Curiosity is the thirst for new experiences. That passion can be systematized.

2. We make better decisions after mapping them. When we make a decision, we tend to leave our understanding unexamined, whether as individuals or as organizations. Mapping them out lets us have a more granular understanding of how we work.

3. To create value over the long term, build platforms.The most sustainable way to create value is to continually invest in our capabilities both as individuals and as organizations. The most core of these capabilities is the understanding we have of ourselves and others.

This isn’t just a quick fix for our next financial quarter; this is how we will succeed in the long run. It is a systemization of our art, science, business, and spirituality.

To learn more about entrepreneurship from Faisal Hoque, sign up for his course How to Develop an Entrepreneurial Mindset at SoundviewPro.

New Courses Added Today

Our library of free video training courses is receiving a few additions today. The 4 new courses are all taught by business experts and cover topics such as employee engagement, developing customers for your startup, getting into the entrepreneurial mindset, and making accountability a critical part of your company culture. Read the full descriptions below.

We’re really proud of our current library of courses and are excited to be adding new courses regularly. This round of new courses is the third expansion of our library, and we have many many more additions planned. Stay tuned!

Solving Today’s Employee Engagement ChallengesLes Landes

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Les Landes asks a pertinent question to any organization. “When it comes to delivering on the promises you make, does your organization know how to walk the talk?” This course will provide you the tools to empower your employees to deliver on any organizational promise through the ImaginAction System.

Customer Development for StartupsBob Dorf

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Why do more than 95 percent of all startups in North America die? Serial entrepreneur Bob Dorf will give you all the tools you need to avoid the startup curse. This high-energy, no-nonsense course will keep your entrepreneurial feet firmly rooted in reality.

How to Develop an Entrepreneurial MindsetFaisal Hoque

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You don’t need to start your own business to be an entrepreneur. Author and serial entrepreneur Faisal Hoque believes a true entrepreneur is someone who pursues an opportunity with limited resources. In this course, he gives you the skills to develop thrive in a world of change.

Installing an Accountability-Based Culture for SuccessJulie Miller and Brian Bedford

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Accountability is NOT an initiative. It requires a specific set of practices that help you weave it into the fabric of your organization. In this course, you’ll learn how to install and maintain a culture of accountability.