A. Listen to two people discuss their unsuccessful attempts to start a business. What types of business did they try to get into? Why did they choose those types? Complete the chart.
Type of business
Reason for choosing it
B. Listen again. Write the main reasons why each attempt failed.
1 Type of business: restaurant
Reason: She always loved cooking.
2 Type of business: develop and sell an app
Reason: He heard you could get rich and didn’t need much money to start.
1 didn’t go slowly; not enough regular customers; poor location; had to charge high prices
2 couldn’t think of any good ideas for apps that hadn’t been done already
I always dreamed of working for myself and opening my own restaurant. I always loved cooking. So, when it came time for college, I knew that the Cooking Institute was definitely the place for me. And when I graduated, I couldn’t wait to get started.
Well, that was probably my first mistake. I didn’t go slowly. I picked a building for my restaurant that had a lot of charm, but it was in a residential neighborhood where parking was really difficult. I didn’t have enough regular customers because people didn’t really drive by and see it. At first, I thought it was great to not have any competition. Had I realized then that other restaurants in the area were necessary to create more business, I would have known it was a bad sign.
My other mistake was that I wanted to serve only the best and use organic food and exotic ingredients. Well, the problem with that was I had to charge a lot for the food. That didn’t help business either. Had I known then what I know now, I’m sure I wouldn’t have failed.
In college, I heard about students who had gotten rich by developing and selling apps. It was an attractive idea – you don’t need much money to start, and I certainly didn’t have much. But I didn’t really have any computer programming skills either. But then I learned about software you can use to create apps even if you don’t know much about programming. I got one of these programs and tried it out. It was so simple! Now I just needed a new idea for an app.
One evening I sat down to brainstorm with friends. We checked each of our ideas online to make sure they were original. First, we thought of an app that tells you what movies are playing in theaters, but there were already several apps for that. Then we thought of an app that locates coffee shops near where you are. There was already an app for that, too. How about an app to check your eyesight? An app to keep track of the food in your refrigerator? An app to see what hairstyle would look good on you? There were apps for all of those things! We brainstormed for hours and couldn’t come up with a single new idea, so . . . we finally just gave up.
But I’m glad I tried. If I hadn’t searched the Internet that day, I wouldn’t know about all of the cool apps out there!
A. Listen to three people who participated in workshops for their jobs. What type of workshop did each person attend?
1 Anne: ____________
2 Thomas: ____________
3 Paulina: ____________
B. Listen again. What did each person learn from his or her workshop experience?
1 Anne: communication workshop
2 Thomas: problem-solving workshop
3 Pauline: role-playing workshop
Anne learned not to interrupt people; not to take things too personally; to criticize ideas, not people; and to respect differences.
Thomas learned the benefits of working as a group to solve problems.
Pauline learned how to put herself in other people’s shoes to better understand their needs.
I attended a workshop on how to communicate better with the people I work with. It’s funny because the leader set up ground rules right away and wrote them on the board. Some people laughed and said they felt like they were in kindergarten. The rules were pretty basic. Don’t interrupt other people when they’re talking. Don’t take things too personally. Criticize ideas, not people. And respect differences. We could see during the workshop how those little rules kept things flowing much more smoothly. I’ve found that I’ve been remembering them at work, too.
OK, well, last week I went to a workshop on how to solve problems by working in small groups. The workshop coordinator started off by breaking the class into groups of six. Each group chose a leader, a recorder, and a spokesperson. We all had to discuss a problem and brainstorm ideas. The leader didn’t make decisions . . . she just made sure that everyone spoke. The recorder wrote an objective summary of the group’s conclusions. Then the spokesperson reported our results to the rest of the workshop and answered any questions. We all learned the benefit of addressing work-related problems as a group and joining together to come up with a solution. I think this system is definitely better than trying to tackle a problem separately. It’s less stressful, and sharing different ideas helps you come to an interesting solution sometimes.
Well, I attended a role-playing workshop in the store where I work. All the managers and salespeople got together and took turns pretending to do the other person’s job as well as playing the part of the customer. The leader would give us a scenario, like “An angry customer tells the salesclerk that he wants to speak to the manager.” Well, that’s a common one! Well, anyway, we would role-play the situation for five minutes and then analyze it. You know, it was actually very interesting to put yourself in someone else’s shoes. It helps you to better understand the needs and concerns of your fellow workers, supervisors, and customers.
Listen to a radio interview. Then check (✓) the correct answers.
1 When planning a new business ________.
a find financing first
b write a business plan first
c make a list of reasons first
2 A list of skills and experience ________.
a helps you find a partner
b identifies if you need a partner
c attracts a partner to your business
3 Finding a niche is ________.
a a way to offer what other businesses don’t
b appealing to customers
c writing a business plan
4 Analyzing the market ________.
a tells who your competition is
b gets you the money you need
c attracts customers
1 c 2 b 3 a 4 a
Host: This is Shelburn Ray for Your Business Minute. Today’s guest is Ellen Lee. Ellen manages the small business development office at City Hall. Ellen, what are the most important factors to consider when starting a business?
Ellen: Shelburn, most people think that starting a business is all about having the money to finance it. But there are a lot of questions to answer before you even start thinking about money. First of all, you absolutely must identify your reasons for wanting to start a business. Make a list and be brutally honest with yourself. If it’s just about making money, chances are you won’t succeed. You have to believe in what you do, you know, really want to do it.
Second, identify your skills and experiences. What skills do you bring to the business? Are they sufficient? You might need a partner with complementary skills. The next thing to think about is where will your business fit in? Finding a niche is important. You must find a way to set your idea apart from what is already being offered. In other words, answer the question, “What can I offer that other businesses aren’t offering?” After that, you must do an analysis of the market. Find out who your competition is. Who is offering similar services? Who are their customers? Can you appeal to those customers? Who else can you appeal to? Are there enough people out there who would use your services? When you’ve answered all of these questions satisfactorily, then it’s time to start writing your business plan and finding the money to start up.
Host: That’s great advice, Ellen, thank you. This has been Your Business Minute. I’m Shelburn Ray.
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