At 4:00pm On 3/21/18 I attended the Certiport certification lab presented by Certiport at the 2018 NCCIA Conference located at Asheville-Buncomb Technical Community College in Asheville, NC.
ESB Mastery status in Entrepreneurship and Small Business Certification (ESB) Achieved!
I chose to attempt this exam because the ESB certification is built to test and validate knowledge in entrepreneurship and small business management, and as a senior partner within a design firm, as a design firm owner, and as an individual who works relentlessly with small business clients, I felt I would have a good handle on these objectives. Tested core concepts included entrepreneurship; recognizing and evaluating opportunities; planning for, starting, and operating a business; marketing and sales; and financial management.
The Official Breakdown of Subject Matter
Certiport’s official exam page for this test: ESB Certification outlines the following fundamentals will possibly be covered:
- Identify the characteristics of entrepreneurs
- Given a scenario including a self assessment outcome, identify the strengths, weaknesses, and risk tolerance the selfassessment identifies and how to compensate with services
- Given a scenario, recognize a business opportunity
- Identify the risks, benefits, opportunities, and drawbacks of being an entrepreneur
- Identify the benefits and drawbacks of different types of opportunities (e.g., start a new business, buy an existing business, and buy a franchise)
- Given a scenario, analyze the demand for the goods or service and opportunities in an environment
- Given a scenario, identify the customers or potential customers for a business
- Given a scenario, recognize a value proposition
- Identify the purposes and value of a business plan
- Identify the appropriate legal structure, benefits and drawbacks for different legal structures for a business
- Given a scenario, identify different types of licenses and regulations that are required
- Identify the benefits and drawbacks of various sources of start-up funding: Equity (friends/family, angels, venture), Debt (bank, credit cards, personal loans), and Grants (government, foundation, corporate)
- Given a scenario, identify support that is available for the business on a local, state, and federal level
- Identify the ethical practices and social responsibilities of a business
- Identify potential exit strategies for a business
- Given a scenario, identify key positions and human capital needs(including compensation and benefits)
- Given a scenario, determine whether work can be completed by the owner or whether employees or service providers are needed
- Given a scenario, identify the taxes that are required
- Given a scenario, identify intellectual property issues of trademarks, copyrights, and patents
- Given a scenario, identify standard operating procedures (e.g., setup, conduct, internal controls, separation of duties)
- Given a scenario, identify the factors that lead to sustainability
- Given a scenario, identify milestones as part of a growth strategy
- Given a scenario, develop a sales strategy and identify characteristics of a successful sale
- Given a scenario, identify and analyze the costs/benefits of finding customers/li>
- Given a scenario, identify how to retain customers and develop a relationship with repeat customers/li>
- Given a scenario, determine value and methods of communication including: web sites, brochures, social media, and advertising
- Given a scenario, interpret basic financial statements such as income statements and balance sheets
- Given a scenario, identify the factors that influence credit ratings and the importance of a positive credit rating
- Given a list of expenses, identify which are fixed versus variable
- Given a scenario, identify the factors that impact the price to the customer
- Given a scenario, identify and analyze cash flow including: accounts receivable, accounts payable, inventory, and debt
- Given a scenario, create a cash flow budget
- Given a scenario, identify the break-even point for the business
All in all, this test was well worth the time and effort. ESB is the first certification product in the new Certiport Business Fundamentals Certification Program, and the ESB exam is intended for use primarily in academic settings including secondary schools, vocational schools, community colleges, and technical colleges. I was to have key conceptual knowledge of entrepreneurial and small business principles, as well as real-world experience as a small business manager in order to take and pass the exam. I feel validated that the skills and knowledge I have gained working in a service and trade profession as my own boss as well as working with small businesses is recognized by a premiere training institution.
On May 4th, 2015 I achieved the Diploma in Social Media Marketing offered by Alison.com
Alison.com — Diploma in Web Business Development and Marketing Achieved!
This coursework was completed over a few days of intense study. Having a business presence on the Internet has become a necessity in today’s world. This diploma course guided me through the initial steps of setting up an online business, from choosing a web hosting account for your site through registering your domain name. The course then explored some of the essential tools in building a working business website, including HTML, Cascading Style Sheets (CSS), and Adobe Dreamweaver. Also covered was information related to affiliate and e-mail marketing, as well as the use of social media marketing to help build your business. The Diploma in Web Business Development and Marketing can be seen as ideal for anyone who wants to set up a Web business but feels they need more guidance on the required skills, or for those with a desire to further their understanding of how online businesses work.
Upon completion of this course I have a greater grasp on the abilities of creating a fully functioning business website. I also feel my understanding of web design concepts such as domain name, hosting, nameservers and web editors has improved significantly. I have gained a good knowledge of images, text and the color aspects within a website, and I know how to publish to online hosting companies. I understand HTML, Cascading Style Sheets, Dreamweaver and how to index my business website successfully. I have learned of different ways to make money from an existing website, and how not to overdo it. I fell I know how to use autoresponders to automatically answer emails, and I know how to create confirmation emails and messages in AWeber. This course has introduced me to affiliate marketing and showed me how to increase traffic to my and my clients’ websites.
Went to the East Coast Gaming Conference Session: What makes you think YOU know what a leader is? as presented by Keith Fuller
In this lecture, Keith Fuller talked about leadership and what some of the qualities of good leaders were, and what was the major roadblock in the industry as far as leadership goes. He began by letting us know what his expectations of us for the talk were: that we would care , that we would participate, and that we would focus.
Leaders set the expectations for those they lead. And a leader, by definition, is responsible for the behavior, tasks, work performance, and development of one or more people whom they manage. The Jetsons boss is NOT leadership.
Leaders watch the quality of your work, and put you where you’ll be best used. A good leader makes you want to show up! The best leaders are approachable, and knows you as a person!
Leaders should not be pulled from a hat. “working ok” is not the same as innovating and excelling. Work should be lead to be efficient, not a “churn and burn” prfoile, because time you are spending at work is not time with the ones you love.
Quality of leadership can be most accurately seen through employee engagement. When and employee cares and is engaged, they work harder. When they are disengaged, they cost you money and productivity.
Quality of work as measured by the happiness of the employee can be directly noted through 2 main objectives: Their relationship with their immediate supervisor, and their belief in senior leadership. More often than not, you don’t quit a company, you quit a boss.
Consider reading: “First, break all the rules” by Buckingham and Coffman.
If stuck down into two main points from these hundreds of interviews:
- First, treat each employee as a person- know things about them and care about them
- Secondly, Don’t make leadership the default career path- great skills do not always translate into leadership, not everyone wants to become a leader.
Communicate, Relate, and Motivate.
Consider reading: “12 – The elements of great managing” wagner and karter
Good leaders have consistently good social skills, are impactful, value people, and objectively improves the business- doing so by supporting the people (arguably the most important part [supporting the people] of the group)
Biggest obstacle to quality leadership: the idea and pat response “We’re good.” (you are fooling yourself). Poor leaders and organizations that sponsor poor leadership feel they have no need to focus on leadership or improving performance.
Here was a good exercise:
You will get points for your organization (0-5) based on the following questions, Yes or No, 1pt a piece:
- You’re asked to give feedback about lead?
- Does everyone get regular 1:1 meetings?
- Performance review more than 1/year?
- Specific training in leadership skills?
- Does lead ask “how can I help you?”
Are you willing to give your score and NAME your company out loud? Some were willing to give their score out loud (About half). However, when they were asked if they were will to give their company name, it dropped to 4 individuals.
Problem: you are not willing to discuss this and name this in public.
What makes you think you know what a leader is? People are more open and will talk about taking notes in meetings, but NOT about what makes a leader.
WHY? Well, this could be a reputation issue that stops you from getting hired in the future. Many people are worried that the proud nail gets knocked down. What if you are the leader? Are you prepared to self-identify as a bad leader or to ask for help? We should encourage people to ask questions! Getting up to complain on a Soap Box is a bad idea, a 1:1 meeting is the right way.
Today at ECGC (The East Coast Gaming Conference), I attending a leadership training seminar: Gamified Talent Management: Using RPG design to motivate employees and redefine work, a lecture by IBM guru Phaedra Boinodiris. This was really fantastic, and should fit nicely with the classroom gamification that I’d like to see in some of our flagging classes. Phaedra Boinodiris identified 4 major attributes of using gamification to find and motivate successful employees:
- Cognitive stability
- Cognitive complexity
- establishes a baseline
She then demonstrated a game used for potential employees, a game in which the user built a structure with spots and lines to reach a given point. This could then be used with responsive software to determine some of the cognitive qualities of the individual to help with the onboarding process. She further showed some proprietary software (darnit!) which could be used to chart an individual’s current state and progress in a gamification environment: Nick’s portal environment result from data showing changes and adjustment over time.
Using their previous data as well as the results of the employee profile and reviews, a composite was created similarly to a character sheet– showing calculated mentor matches (along with that mentor employee’s contact information, job matches and suggested promotion track to achieve it, how that employee ranked against others in the industry, how that employee was perceived by their peers, how the current marketplace is embracing their recognized skillsets, an employee assessment, and list of training or certifications suggested for the employee.
Upon my request, Ms. Boinodiris would not reveal information about IBM’s proprietary software. 😦
Questions posed by the leaders using this software required the team to be evaluated as a group. Once all members had taken the assessment, a team could further be assessed, posing questions based upon the team performance in addition to the qualities shown by the team:
- “To be good at my job, what paths need to be completed?”
- “What training needs to be completed by our current team?”
- “What training might need to be required of new or potential team members?”
- “How many goals are being completed within the group?”
- “What is it about the ‘class’ of employee that makes this optimal or in need to accomplish our team or individual goals?”
Based on results of these tests and questions, what kind of employees are they? Could you give them designations such as hunter, farmer, leader, etc.? After a class designation has been properly identified, can you change or adjust these designations to make your team the team you desire or the team numbers show is best suited for a particular task?
Once backed up with data, adjustments to your staff’s ‘class’ could be made by sending them ‘quests’ perhaps once per day or week. These quest tasks would slowly evolve the thinking of the team or team members, so that training is no longer siloed. For instance, you might recognize ‘Hunter’ employees as those who track down new, effective leads. ‘Farmers’ on the other hand, might be constantly revisiting old leads to grow new business in already fertile ground. You might assign hunters to revisit ‘old hunting grounds’ once a day and slowly evolve their systems. Farmers on the other hand, might strike out into leads on ‘newly forested areas’ where they can begin relationships and begin a new harvesting in new areas.
By removing the siloed training, you make continual training something that is both approachable and achievable. Also, it CAN become fun. However, you must find ways to provide tailored content to make sure your employees know what they need to do, or show them how they can improve.
It is vitally important to remember: As far as gamification goes, if you’re spending a majority of your time at the beginning determining what motivates your audience, you are doing it wrong.
When adding gamification to your school, workplace, etc, you must avoid the ‘chocolate covered brocoli’ – adding a small benefit to something which your population already hates. A badge alone will NOT motivate the students or employees anymore than covering something they don’t want with chocolate.
Consider reading The Multiplayer Classroom by Sheldon Lee. (I spoke with Sheldon Lee the author during a conference call last week. This was great timing!)
Also consider reading Serious Games for Business by Phaedra Boinodiris
I felt this was a great presentation, and I learned a lot that I felt would be helpful in methods of leadership! Tell me what you think!
Having come from a background in project management, building whitepapers and presentations for Business Analysis and Software Development Life Cycle collateral through ASPE, and working in the field has really prepped me pretty well for this designation. With only a few days of mior enrichment and study, I was able to achieve this certification with only 30 minutes of the 40 minutes allowed through BrainBench testing.
Business Communication certification is one of three certifications I a working on at this time… and it will be the last time I do this again- its just too much work to study for so many and still pass! Business Communications is a bit of a no-brainer. Just doing the right, professional thing without acting like a jerk, breaking a contract, or breaking the law is all it really takes. Testing 3 examinations in one day… whew! BrainBench, what was I thinking?
Today, I completed my training by achieving a certification in Business Math through Brainbench.com . This is one of two training subjects I am currently working on. Honestly, some of this was new to me, but a lot of this was old news. I busted out my TI-81 to break through this examination… Only to be laughed at by the programming crew.
Apparently the TI-81 by Texas Instruments no longer cuts the mustard. Which is sad really. I used my TI-81 all through high school to randomly generate AD&D characters. Now, its just laughable. Oh well. Business math is good… well, for business really.