Tag Archives: entrepreneurship

Happiness and projects that matter

Looking through this course syllabus, it strikes me that positive psychology has something to do with entrepreneurship. Happiness has something to do with starting projects that matter.

The science of happiness and the science of entrepreneurship both encourage people to focus on their strengths and to build a team to enhance individual ability. It makes sense. If you do what you’re good at, you will enjoy doing it. If you build a team to augment your ability, you will increase your odds of doing it for a living.

Both disciplines – happiness and entrepreneurship – also suggest that individuals have the ability to control their circumstances. Achieving happiness means defining success and then taking concrete actions to realize goals.

Finally, positive psychology and entrepreneurship both suggest that when life hands you lemons, you make lemonaide. Failure is not an option and challenges are opportunities. Good things happen when you focus on the good things in life.

My gut tells me that happiness and entrepreneurship are directly related and that learning the science of both has practical application for starting projects that matter.

The Economics of One Unit

The amount of profit made on an individual item or service is one of the most important numbers for an entrepreneur to know. The calculation looks like this: Selling Price – Expenses = Profit (or Loss).

If you are selling a product then its easy to calculate the economics of one unit. For example, a necklace needs a certain amount of stuff to produce (everything from polymer clay to an Etsy account).  The profit on a necklace equals the selling price minus expenses.  If this equation comes out positive, then there is a profit (woo-hoo!) and you’re in business. If this equation is negative (boo!) then you’ve screwed the pooch and you’re out of business.

If you are selling a service then it is a little more difficult to calculate the economics of one unit.  For example, a photographer needs to decide if a unit of sale is an hour of time, a package of time and finished photographs, or something else entirely. Knowing what you are selling allows you to accurately account for expenses, which helps you measure your profit (or loss).

Another trick is to look at profit as a percentage of the selling price.  This will tell you the profit percentage based on sales.  The calculation is: (Profit/Selling Price) x 100 = Profit %. For example, if a photographer made a profit of $200 on a $2000 wedding package, the profit would be 10%

The economics of one unit of sale is a very important concept for entrepreneurs to understand. Of course, Google can help. But if you’re a serious entrepreneur then it’s probably one of those things that you need figure out for yourself by running your business, talking to other entrepreneurs, attending educational seminars, and so on.

What If? How to Come up With New Ideas

What if you could go anywhere and be anything?

Ideation is like it sounds: the process of coming up with new ideas. It starts with “what if”? Challenge yourself to look at the world through a fresh lens. Forget about the old ways of doing things.

There are many ways to come up with new ideas. Brainstorming is one of the oldest and most commonly used. The rules are simple: focus on the topic at hand; go for quantity, not quality; and, go nuts. If you have time it helps to host some sort of immersion process prior to brainstorming — a conference or workshop — to get the creative juices flowing.

Brainstorming works well in teams. If you are running a very small business, pull your advisors together for a brainstorming session. Bribe them if you have to. (I hear that entrepreneurs like coffee.)

Focus your brainstorming session on a specific component of your business plan, marketing plan, business model, or whatever else you are working on. Whatever you focus on expands. The more specific you are in your intention, the more innovative solutions your brainstorming session will produce. What could your business do with a team of 100? How could you market your business if money were no object?

Now that you have expanded the range of possible solutions, settle into two or three actionable ideas. You should define actionable based on some kind of relevant criteria: revenue generation, market penetration, customer resistance, and so on.

With two or three ideas in hand, it’s time to sketch out a plan. Use a mind map or a business model canvas to structure your plan and decide on a course of action.

The key points when it comes to ideation are to include a broad team, be specific in your request, and go nuts. This is an opportunity to set your mind free. Of course you don’t get to implement all your ideas. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be having them in the first place.