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Taking the Leap from Engineering to Entrepreneurship

Taking the Leap from Engineering to Entrepreneurship
Every engineer who’s invented some new technology or is adept at coming up with innovative solutions believes that the hard part is over and the step to take that solution to market as an entrepreneur should be easy. And many engineers are in for a shock. In reality, that seemingly short step from engineer to entrepreneur means significantly more risk. In fact, a survey conducted by Duke and Harvard of over 500 technology companies found that only 37% of leaders had any background in engineering or computer science. Engineers should definitely think twice before they assume that they have an advantage when it comes to being an entrepreneur, no matter how great the product they’ve come up with is. The good news is that there are many great resources out there to help engineers make the transition to entrepreneurs. Krishna Uppuluuri’s book, ‘Engineer to Entrepreneur: The First Flight’ is a good start. The book identifies the main business perceptions most engineers have, along with providing a workbook approach to provide a quick start on various business lifecycle topics. Here’s what to keep in mind if you are considering making the transition from engineering to entrepreneurship. A Great Product Doesn’t Always Make a Great Entrepreneur: The old adage ‘if we built it, they will come’ tends to be a common misconception amongst engineers who are considering starting their own business to sell a product they developed. In reality, simply building a solution alone won’t magically make it connect with customers, manage the competition, or communicate the offering to the industry. Today, we’re definitely in an era of information overload. Selling and marketing skills are absolutely crucial to ensure your product takes off, no matter how awesome it is. Thinking that your product alone will act as a customer magnet is a dangerous mindset to have. So, before you make the leap from engineer to entrepreneur, it pays to develop some skills that you can use to put your product in front of the market, promote it, and connect with your target audience. How do you do this? Enroll in a relevant training program or degree: Online learning and online degree programs have made it easier than ever for you to gain the relevant skills you need before transitioning to entrepreneurship, without messing up your already busy schedule. If you want to keep things engineering-focussed then you can find degree programs that combine both engineering and management at Kettering University Online. Or you could opt for a learning program from Kettering University Online that walks you through the basics of business and building the skills necessary to become a successful entrepreneur. Network: As an engineer, you’re probably no stranger to networking; it’s just as crucial in this industry as it is in the business world. You probably already network to keep your engineering knowledge current and stay in the loop about new projects or job opportunities. Switch your networking focus to the business world and connect with people who can offer valuable advice and support. Even better if you can find a network of successful engineers turned entrepreneurs who you can learn from. Get a mentor: Business mentoring is a fantastic idea for anybody new to entrepreneurship, whether from an engineering background or not. Choose a mentor who is able to be honest with you and tell you how it is; you’re going to benefit a lot more from that compared to somebody who won’t stop you in your tracks when you’re on the brink of making a huge mistake. Don’t Rely On a Cool or New Idea to Sell Itself: Similar to the above, just because something is cool and...
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5 Productivity Tips for Small Business Owners

5 Productivity Tips for Small Business Owners
5 Productivity Tips for Savvy Small Business Owners Starting your own business is an exciting journey. You’re the boss! You make the rules…and you are largely responsible for setting your own hours, keeping your own workspace organized, and making sure your company reaches scheduled goals. Keeping your employees on track – not to mention staying productive yourself – can be a difficult task. These helpful tips show you how to make a few small changes which will dramatically increase your business’s overall productivity. Set Work Hours – And Stick to Them! Once you step away from the “normal” 9-to-5 workday, you run into a problem: deciding when to work. With the entire day available to you, it’s surprisingly easy to fall into the trap of “I’ll do it later”. Many small business owners find themselves struggling through the difficult early days of company growth working late into the night, battling endless distractions and adopting unsustainable sleep schedules. Avoid this by setting a schedule and stick to it. Work in 3 to 5-hour chunks with time blocked off for breaks in between. Once the workday is over, log out of your business accounts to avoid the temptation to keep working ‘round the clock. Office administrators often do all the behind the scenes work to help your office run smoothly, even in times like these where everyone is fully remote. To show your appreciation for all the work they do to keep things running smoothly and everyone in good spirits, consider getting them a gift for Administrative Professionals Day on April 22nd. There are plenty of remote gift ideas like sending them new home office tools or signing them up for an online meditation class to help them destress. For more inspiration on how to celebrate your office admin remotely, head over to Wikibuy’s blog post. Learn to Love Mornings You may be surprised to find that the average human is much more productive in the mornings. Our brains are awake, we’ve just gotten plenty of sleep, and distractions are less frequent as our friends and family are generally also working. Even if you’ve never been a “morning person,” you should give it a try! Wake up an hour – or even just a half hour – earlier than usual and spend that time working. You might be surprised to find out just how much you get done before lunchtime. Those formerly miserable morning hours can turn into prime productive, business-growing time! Don’t Be Afraid to Delegate Another productivity-destroying trap many small business owners get caught in is the desire to “do it all”. Wanting to be aware of everything that goes on, they waste time struggling through small, tedious tasks such as entering data, fussing with payroll details, and even keeping track of every employee’s schedules. Delegate some of these tasks to partners and employees within your business. This will give you, as the owner, more time to focus on the big picture: setting goals, securing funding and building relationships with clients and customers. This will benefit the entire business – workers will have clearly defined tasks and goals as well as be given chances to develop their own initiative, leadership and organizational skills. Introduce Productivity Tools Today, a wide variety of productivity tools are available, ranging from websites to smartphone apps to good old-fashioned journals and calendars. Take advantage of these tools to keep yourself and your employees organized and on track at all times! Set up a chat client so you can stay in touch with your team without needing to exchange endless emails. Have employees set up to-do lists on a shared web site or app so that you can...
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Getting Out of Debt: A Guide

Getting Out of Debt: A Guide
Debt can be an incredibly destructive force in your life – ravaging your finances, your investments, your family and your reputation, and threatening to eclipse all the hard work you’ve done in your life. In recognition of just how difficult debt can be for ordinary consumers, this guide I have designed will help you to find your way out of debt by whichever means possible. By using some of the tips outlined below, you’ll be able to take control of your financial situation, bringing to your life a sense of stability that debt can often destroy. Loans If your debt is only small, and easy to manage for a week or a month, then you may wish to look to a loan to bolster your finances for the period ahead of you until the next paycheck you receive. These loans can be incredibly helpful, but you need to remember that not all loan providers are ethical, and many are hoping that you slip into further debt as a result of your exchange with them. As such, be very careful to vet any loans company that you interact with in order to know which you can trust. Cashing In Your second option is to cash in on some of your wealth and your assets in order to service your debt. Depending on the size of your investment portfolio, you may well have a choice of what you can sell to make the biggest impact on your debt while also not losing valuable possessions or investments. So, whether you choose to divest in your car and stocks, or release some equity from your home, you can make use of your assets in order to avoid larger spells of serious debt in your family finances. Lawyers Another option, if you find yourself in a predicament in which you feel injustice is being practiced, you may wish to find a lawyer to represent your interests in court. If you choose to go down this route, be sure to pick lawyers that you can trust, and those with a track record of successful comparable cases. You can seek great help with a debt lawsuit by searching for representatives online. Only turn to lawyers if you feel you have a decent chance of winning your case – otherwise, your loss will only result in further debt for your family. Making Sacrifices Finally, debt is usually the result of financial mismanagement. Sometimes it’s just bad luck, and often it’s related to socio-economic class – but most working families should be able to avoid debt in the modern era. If you do fall into debt, you will have to realize that sacrifices need to be made. These might include cutting down the food and drink that you love the most, selling some of your possessions, downsizing your home, turning to public transport, not personal transport, and dipping into the savings you’ve accrued for other purposes. Sacrifices, too, can get you out of debt. These four tips are crucial to help you get out of debt, whatever your particular financial scenario and however much you find yourself in...
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How To Advance Your Business Career

How To Advance Your Business Career
  Working in business is a promising career path because there are a lot of different directions you can go. The opportunities are endless if you continue to work hard and are dedicated to improving your skills over time. Be glad to know there are a few actions in particular that you can take if you want to quickly advance your business career. This way you can get on the right path to becoming a successful and productive employee with the potential to grow and learn over the years. It’s going to take time to get ahead because of all the competition, so be patient with yourself as you develop into the leader you know you can be. Further Your Education A good first step in the process of advancing your business career is to focus on furthering your education. For example, take advantage of your down time by studying for a Suffolk University Online MBA and earning your advanced degree. In this program, you’ll learn the skills and abilities you’ll need to solve complex problems at a global level and how to better analyze data. It’s a great way to polish up your resume and make sure you’re keeping up to speed with the ever changing landscape of the business world. Find A Mentor You may also find it useful to secure a mentor to help you advance your business career. You can bounce ideas off of this person about your performance and ask questions that will help you become a more desirable employee. Pinpoint someone who’s been in your shoes before and has been able to work their way up the corporate ladder. This way you can follow in their footsteps and also hopefully avoid any same mishaps or mistakes they made along the way. Set Goals & Track Your Progress You’ll get a lot further in your business career when you set goals for yourself and what it is you want to achieve in your profession. Not only write down your objectives, but then construct a timeline for how quickly you want to meet each goal. Monitor your progress as you go and don’t be afraid to make adjustments based on your results. For example, aim to go after a promotion at work or complete an online class in an area where you find you struggle the most. Having goals in place will help you to move forward in a promising direction instead of getting stuck in one place and lacking the motivation to advance in your career. Speak to Your Boss In addition, be open and honest with your boss about how you feel about your job and career. Let them know if you’re bored and how you feel they can help better support you and succeed. Discuss chances for you to showcase your skills and abilities in your performance reviews by setting goals together that you want to meet in the upcoming year. Talk about what they feel your strengths and weaknesses are so that you can apply this information while going after the next big promotion opportunity. Always be Networking It’s also in your best interests to always be networking and meeting new people inside and outside of work. Be proactive and use your network for support whenever you’re feeling lost or confused about how you should proceed. It’s possible someone you meet will have good career advice for you or know of a job opening that will be a better fit. Advance your business’ career by staying in touch with those you meet and helping each other out as you each work on getting ahead professionally. Take on More Responsibility at Work...
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How to File a Patent for Your Invention

How to File a Patent for Your Invention
How to File a Patent for Your Invention Inventors are highly prized in any market, since their work is often the focal point that other infrastructure, marketing, and production coalesce around. But as an inventor, whether in a startup or independently, it is important to make the most of any invention you create. This means protecting your original work legally. In this article, we look at one of the primary tools at the disposal of any inventor: the patent, and how to file one.     Why File a Patent? Patents provide a level of economic security and market edge for their holders. They are specifically designed to incentivize invention and innovation, offering an avenue to significant potential profits for an invention that is patented quickly and correctly. Patents fall under the category of intellectual property (IP) law, and are one of four kinds of IP protection, the others being copyrights, trade secrets, and trademarks. Copyrights cover original creative work, trade secrets involve confidential information that benefits a company competitively, and trademarks protect branding and brand identity. However, patents may be the most powerful intellectual property tool. Holding a patent grants a twenty-year monopoly (in the United States) for the development, production, and sale of the invention in question. This means that no other companies can compete via imitation for this time period, allowing the best possible version of the invention to be produced and sold, gaining more profits by being a unique entity in the market. Filing a patent can make the difference between being swallowed by competitors who have the infrastructure to take your idea and produce it more cheaply or more quickly, and having the time and resources to perfect your invention and get rewarded for its genesis. Sure, the patent filing process is time consuming and costs money, but the potential benefits are immense. Is Your Invention Eligible? The United States Patent & Trademark Office, or USPTO, outlines what is and is not eligible for patenting according to the patent statute codified in federal law. Eligible areas include a process, machine, “article of manufacture” (manufactured product), composition of matter, or “improvement of any of the above,” as well as specific designations for unique plant patents and design patents that govern the nonfunctional design and aesthetic components of a product. So, if your invention happens to be a machine or a composition of matter, is it automatically eligible for a patent? In short, no. There are additional requirements that must be met for patent eligibility. These boil down to usefulness, novelty, and non-obviousness. To have any chance of being granted a patent, the invention in question must be useful. Usefulness here can be very broad and does not only encompass crucial or definitive needs and benefits. Things like entertainment and enjoyment can also qualify as uses. Novelty refers to being sufficiently unique and new in order to deserve a patent. This can often be an issue of contention, with gray areas existing between what constitutes a slight tweak or variation upon an existing idea versus a truly novel improvement. Lastly, being non-obvious may seem quite easy, but this determination usually helps to weed out inventions that are not really inventions but obvious combinations of previously existing factors. Before delving into the patent search and filing process, it may be a good idea to seek out a qualified patent attorney or law firm to determine what the best course of action is, as a professional will better know how your invention might fare.   Picture Courtesy: Taylorip The Patent Search Now that you’ve determined your invention may be patent eligible, it’s time to hone in on the...
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