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10 Steps To Transform Yourself From An Employee To A Boss

10 Steps To Transform Yourself From An Employee To A Boss

Becoming your own boss is a major shift in responsibility. For the first time, your income will be directly linked to your results. Fortunately, many people have made the transition before you. You can learn from their experience. The following 10 steps will smooth the path to business greatness.

1. Prepare For The Learning Curve

Managing yourself in your own business presents a dramatic challenge, quite unlike anything you do as an individual. In order to transform yourself into an effective boss, be prepared to learn. That means adopting a beginner’s mindset. Take note of comments from your customers, as well as those who decline to buy from you.

Action Step: Carry a notebook with you to every meeting so that you don’t lose any valuable insights.

Resource: To navigate through a challenging career change read “What Got You Here Won’t Get You There: How Successful People Become Even More Successful!” by Marshall Goldsmith.

2. Know Your Strengths and Weaknesses

Management achievement starts with self understanding. Knowing yourself for leadership growth is a key way to set yourself apart from other people. How do you get to know yourself better? You can use reflection tools such as the 5 Minute Journal. There is also value in using personality assessment tools such as the DISC Profile.

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To go deep with your strengths, use the Strengths Finder assessment (and read the book: “StrengthsFinder 2.0″ by Tim Rath).

Action Step: Complete a personality profile such as DISC to discover your strengths and weaknesses.

3. Become A Master of Meetings

Meetings are a key professional tool that successful managers use to accomplish work and make important decisions. If you are still complaining about meetings, it is time to improve. Top managers show mastery of effective meeting habits, such as following a written agenda and keeping a meeting focused.

Action Step: Review the meetings you regularly attend and make note of which one is most effective? Visit the person who runs that meeting and ask them for advice on how to run effective meetings.

4. Talk To Three People Who Run Companies In Your Niche

There is no replacement for the advice and insight of successful entrepreneurs in your own industry. For example, if you are planning to open a fitness company, there are many questions you ask before you start. You could; for example, ask successful people how they obtained customers in their first year of operations. In addition, ask what expenses are truly necessary to get started. The answer may be less than you imagine.

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Action Step: Use Linkedin Advanced Search and contact three successful entrepreneurs in your industry. Ask them to lunch. Come prepared with a list of questions!

5. Focus on Sales, Not Business Cards

Starting a business is exciting! The excitement and the potential for significant income are some of the reasons you may feel drawn to start a business. In order for your business idea to succeed, you must spend serious time and attention on sales. Resist the urge to spend a lot of money on business cards, office supplies and other expenses. Sales needs to be the top priority.

Action Step: Experiment with different sales and marketing ideas (e.g. cold calling or online marketing) until you start to find success.

6. Open A Business Bank Account

Managing money effectively is important to growing your business. To avoid tax problems, open a business bank account so that your business expenses and revenues are kept apart from your personal money. Many banks and credit unions offer low cost business checking accounts to small businesses and entrepreneurs.

Action Step: Open a business checking account at your local financial institution.

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7. Create A Business Structure (e.g. The Legal Stuff)

As you work to obtain your first few customers, you may decide to operate as a sole proprietorship. That business structure has the advantage of needing little or no paperwork to establish, depending on your country’s requirements. If you expect to face significant risk or liability, you may wish to consult an attorney or lawyer for further advice.

Action Step: Request a meeting with a business lawyer to seek advice on what business structure to use.

8. Build Your Business On The Side

Building a successful company takes years of steady work and learning from your mistakes. That’s why many people build their companies during the evenings and weekends, while they keep a regular day job to pay the bills. Taking this approach also gives you the flexibility to try several business ideas and target markets.

Action Step: Set a goal for how many hours per week (e.g. 10-20 hours per week) you will work on your “side business” to grow it.

9. Build A Six Month Emergency Fund Before You Quit Your Job

Becoming your own boss is exciting! Unfortunately, some people make the mistake of leaving their day jobs behind before thinking through their financial needs. To give yourself peace of mind, set up a seperate bank account where you save the equivalent of six months of expenses. For example, if your monthly living expenses are $2000, then a six month emergency fund would require $12,000.

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Tip: If you’re not sure where to find extra cash for your emergency fund try reading: Spring Cleaning Your Finances to Find Hidden Money.

Action Step: Open a high interest savings account and start adding money to your emergency fund.

10. Hire Staff Very Slowly

Hiring your first employee is a major step in the growth of a new business. However, a bad hiring decision has the potential to damage your business and waste a great deal of your time. Delay hiring your first team member until it is absolutely required.

Action Step: Look into hiring a virtual assistant to help you grow your business.

Featured photo credit: Businessman/Unsplash via pixabay.com

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Bruce Harpham

Bruce Harpham is a Project Management Professional and Founder and CEO of Project Management Hacks.

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Last Updated on October 8, 2020

How to Succeed in Business: 10 Skills Every Entrepreneur Needs

How to Succeed in Business: 10 Skills Every Entrepreneur Needs

Learning how to succeed in business used to be a case of being really good at one skill or area and milking it for all its value. Today, we are fast becoming a “skills economy”[1], driving trends in employment and even the way we approach entrepreneurship.

To succeed in today’s business landscape, business owners and executives need to possess a mix of skills that enable them to stay ahead and adapt to change.

What do you need to do to learn how to succeed in business? Here’re 10 important skills that entrepreneurs need to become successful.

1. Digital Savviness

As the adage goes: “If you’re not online, you don’t exist.” Today’s entrepreneurs need to take to the internet to increase their presence to remain relevant in an evolving business landscape.

Being able to quickly adapt to new technology, whether by utilizing cloud applications, organizing websites using content management systems, or collaborating remotely across the internet, is fast becoming the expected norm for executives.

For businesses, discoverability on the web is becoming a quick litmus test for credibility. Potential customers and investors bank on the first page of Google to make up half their minds about making further transactions with a business. GE Capital Retail Bank found that 81% of retail shoppers conduct online research before buying[2].

How to Develop This Skill

For a start, begin by hosting your website and reserving all of your brand’s handles across social media platforms. While hiring a web developer might sound like the next step, consider first hosting your company’s site on more user and budget-friendly options like Squarespace, Wix, or WordPress.

From here, you can start on some simple search engine optimization techniques that will increase your discoverability over time. Through keyword research, organic content creation, and external back-links, your site will slowly but surely garner more traffic.

2. Financial Forecasting

Let’s face it, many business owners feel that time could be better spent on developing and running the business instead of planning for it financially. However, a financial forecast serves as a roadmap for shaping any kind of business, so make this skill a priority when learning how to succeed in business.

Forecasting and planning your financial goals will give you a clearer idea of resources required. It can also provide assurance to investors as a testament to the thorough research and planning you have done.

However, inaccurate forecasts can lead to livid investors and mismanagement of expenses. When creating a detailed financial forecast, a rule of thumb is to always start with your expenses.

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How to Develop This Skill

Generally, it’s easier to calculate and predict your expenses compared to your revenue, so noting down your expenses is a starting point to benchmark how much you might need to generate in sales to turn a profit. It’s a good habit to regularly update and evaluate how close your operations are to what you have forecasted.

Building a precise set of growth forecasting will take time, but, remember, you are an investor in your own business. You must have confidence in the validity of your business concept.

3. Video Production Skills

The rise of visual mediums and the dopamine boosts it gives to users has long been researched and proven as providing an unfair advantage to businesses that leverage it[3].

If you’re a heavy user of social platforms like Facebook, LinkedIn, and even YouTube, you’ll know that it’s pretty hard to stop once you get started on a binge-watching session.

In fact, video marketing is seeing a non-stop rise in popularity and effectiveness when used in conjunction with social media to drive traffic and boost conversions[4]. According to research, after 2019, 80% of global Internet consumption will be video content[5].

With video marketing becoming more ubiquitous, businesses that fail to leverage the power of video are almost certain to lose out.

How to Develop This Skill

Some ways to get started using videos for your business would be:

  • Creating a series of educational videos that cover useful information for your audiences
  • Live videos interacting with your community at large (these can be shot on your smart phone)
  • Using videos on landing pages to boost your customer conversions

4. Benchmarking Personal Goals to Business Performance

As far as you get into achieving endeavors on your business bucket list, it’s important to remember that being an entrepreneur is just one facet of your identity. Don’t forget why you started in the first place, even when your focus is learning how to succeed in business.

Ambition usually stems from some lifestyle goals you’ve always wanted for yourself and the people you might be providing for today or in the future. Working 24/7 is a surefire route to burnout.

How to Develop This Skill

Money can’t be your only motivation, but look into the positives of how having more financial freedom and time can impact your life. In the short term, involving your interests in your businesses can make everyday tasks feel less like mundane errands. In the long run, your business may also bring you fruitful rewards, including personal fulfilment.

Set realistic income goals to manage expectations for your performance and your company’s revenue, especially during its earlier stages. See how projected growth can align with your personal goals and make adjustments accordingly.

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5. Leveraging Healthy Competition

Some of the best athletes who have spent their careers neck-and-neck with each other have changed the standards in their respective sports. The notion of healthy competition applies to the business world more than it may seem on the surface.

Innovation has always been a key driver in free markets, which were intended to boost economies and provide customers with more choices. Just like the biggest sporting rivals that build on each others’ game, you can use your biggest competitors to hone your strategies.

How to Develop This Skill

Turn a competitive market landscape into an advantageous one by leveraging on long-established systems your business proposes an alternative to. Learn from the mistakes of predecessors once you discover their product or service loopholes.

For example, the Dollar Shave Club’s viral video[6] became a big hit because it aimed at consumers tired of purchasing expensive but low quality shavers from retail giants. Going in second meant they could fill a gap competitors might not even have been aware of.

Solidify your place with your business’ advantage — whether you’re tapping into a new geographical region or unexplored market sector, or introducing a business model that is more viable than others.

6. Honing Pitches to Investors

Stand out in a broad mix of entrepreneurs by mastering the art and science behind a solid investor pitch. Make this a focus if you want to learn how to succeed in business. Get comfortable talking about your ideas and receiving feedback or questions from peers, partners, and advisors before setting out to make a good impression on potential customers and eventually investors.

The phrase “If you can’t convince them, confuse them,” will certainly never get your business funded, especially in front of seasoned venture capitalists who have seen thousands of startup pitches. You should be able to deliver a quick elevator pitch that summarizes your unique proposition for casual meet-ups[7] because you sometimes only have a few minutes to make a good impression.

How to Develop This Skill

Develop your investor pitch deck by highlighting your business’ strongest points, which will vary for every funding round. Create your deck with the investors’ interests in mind, balancing technical jargon and buzzwords.

You can also introduce your diverse team of experts, some proven traction, or the current state of the market to demonstrate profitability and the attractiveness of the opportunity to investors.

Ensure each slide flows into the other to develop a persuasive narrative, utilizing consistent and intelligent design principles to support your content.

7. Developing a Strong Brand Identity

In a world of saturated content and numerous emerging businesses that offer similar service lines, developing a unique brand identity will help you cut through the noise and stand out from your competition[8].

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Define your personal brand to succeed in business.

    Evaluating your brand identity is linked to identifying your target customers, your business goals, a proposed promised land your solution achieves, and identifying values that are aligned with these components. Brand identity serves as a guide to maintaining consistency and creating an image you want your business to be associated with.

    How to Develop This Skill

    Efforts to strengthen your brand identity are closely tied to giving marketing strategies a direction.  By knowing what makes your target customers tick, you will be able to elevate your business from simply being a service or product to a projected brand customers and partners would be happy to identify with.

    8. Automating to Your Advantage

    The need for efficiency is often a general problem new businesses aim to resolve. As you’re learning how to succeed in business, assure that your proposed solution is more efficient than what’s readily available in the market to inspire the need for it.

    Efficiency is often achieved nowadays through digitalization and new technologies. While your product or service may not necessarily be the most innovative out there, you can apply the same automation concept across your business’ daily operations.

    How to Develop This Skill

    Shorten turnaround times and conversion rates by investing in small tools for automation where you deem fit. While it may come out of your pocket in the early stages, evaluate the advantages and benefits of automating certain processes. At our office, we’ve tried using collaborative apps like Workplace by Facebook, Slack, Asana and a few other popular apps to reduce human error and friction.

    9. Managing Millennials

    Your team plays an integral part in whether your business will accelerate at breakneck speeds or be dragged down by dead weight. Hence, it is imperative to be selective and strategic when choosing your team.

    In leaner, small business teams, the addition of every new teammate can impact how your organization culture evolves.

    Today, learning to manage millennials has become an increasingly sought after skill as well due to the increasing proportion of them in the workforce[9]. Some brand them as strawberries that are easily bruised, and others loath their need for “meaning” and wearing T-shirts to work.

    How to Develop This Skill

    Naturally, there are many misconceptions surrounding millennials, and various businesses would do well to leverage their unique skills.

    A couple of ways to manage a millennial team include:

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    Encourage a Flat Team Structure With Open Communication

    Maintain clear professional lines between supervisors and subordinates, but keep communication channels open to ensure no negativity festers.

    Offer Constructive Feedback

    Baby boomers are well known for their straightforward approach to delivering feedback. Millennials, on the other hand, don’t always take feedback in a form that could be construed as deep criticism.

    Being constructive with feedback ensures that you don’t coddle millennial workers but also tell them the things they need to hear.

    10. Maintaining a Network of Connectivity

    When learning how to succeed in business, instead of proposing a model that’s disruptive to an industry, build connections with other companies that serve the same target customers, as long as they provide a different service.

    By creating partnerships, both you and other businesses thrive simultaneously.

    Sole market disruption isn’t always the best strategy to take. Not everybody has the opportunity, bandwidth, or financial capacity to dominate and monopolize a marketplace. See your potential for integration into other businesses and services as a good opportunity for co-collaborative marketing efforts with shared campaigns, split costs, and a strengthened customer database for everyone to tap into.

    How to Develop This Skill

    Regardless of the stage your business is in, never stop looking for ways to expand your network. Keep in contact with mentors you can look to for valuable industry advice that can help you avoid pitfalls and costly mistakes. Strengthen brand awareness by attending cross-industry events and casual meet-ups to open your business to reinvention and innovation.

    As the African proverb goes:

    “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”

    Collaborating will get you where you want to go quicker and gear you up for further growth.

    More on How to Succeed in Business

    Featured photo credit: Tyler Franta via unsplash.com

    Reference

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