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7 Success Hacks for Budding Entrepreneurs

7 Success Hacks for Budding Entrepreneurs

Being your own boss can be both fun and rewarding but don’t let anyone tell you it isn’t hard work. Several years back I started my very first business, and the memories are still as vivid today as when it happened.

Indeed, I can recall the feeling that I had after filing my articles of incorporation with the Secretary of State. It was like, ‘So now that it’s official, what do I do now?’ Fortunately, I was very lucky to have made mistakes early enough to catch them and make my corrections. But it wasn’t easy. However, the good news is that today I’m going to let you know everything I wish I’d known then about what to do after starting a business. Let’s get started!

After you officially launch your business, it won’t be long before you find yourself wondering what to do next. If your launch is anything like mine, the weird thing about trying to map out a game plan isn’t necessarily that you don’t have anything to do. You might even find that there’s so much that just trying to decide what to do first triggers analysis paralysis.

If I could do it all over again here’s how I’d tackle my new business checklist.

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1. Ready Yourself for Growth and Success

While on the face of it managing growth might either

a) seem like a great problem to have or

b) like the type of problem that you only worry about when you’re actually facing it.

Nothing could be further from the truth! In fact, the irony of it is that quick, unexpected sales growth could be just as detrimental to your business as no revenues at all! If it all sounds a bit far-fetched, consider this news from one of the most widely recognized business publications in the world – the Harvard Business Review – which cited the inability to handle growth as one of the biggest problems faced by new businesses. To support this observation, they referenced several examples of startups who hurt themselves by not responding adequately to the unexpected growth.

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Here’s what you need to know about growth hacking for the unexpected.

If you haven’t already done so, you’ll want to be 100% certain that your method of production can be scaled; this applies both to companies who supply products or services. One way you can tell if you’re sufficiently capable of handling rapid growth is to ask yourself if your current production process could withstand 100 more orders – should they come in right now. If the answer is no, then you know that you need to scale your production procedure.

2. Have a Sales Team in Place

If you run a sales driven company, it’s critical that you find ways to generate sales – day in and day out. Without a doubt having a knowledgeable sales force in place to close deals is one of the best ways to achieve regular sales.

3. Become an Expert in Your Market

If you have a sound understanding of the fundamentals that drive sales for your industry, you’ll be in a position to stay a step ahead of the competition. One way to do this is to stay plugged into what’s going on in the industry. Of course, if you have an internet connection, it is remarkably easy to follow the trends that matter.

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While not everyone wants to prepare themselves to be ready for the worst, so many new companies go out of business because they weren’t ready to experience success.

4. Don’t Over-Rely on Your Company Launch for Sales

It’s so easy to adopt the mindset that your launch buzz will follow you into the post-launch phase. However, remember that this does not have to be the case and it usually isn’t. In fact, after that first round of PR wears off, you should prepare yourself to fight for every second or word of publicity that you receive.

Sadly, that initial buzz will wear off quicker than you think, so be ready. Another thing is that the sooner you internalize your new business’s Unique Selling Proposition (USP), the faster you can position yourself for long-term growth. Here are some things you can do to keep the sales rolling in longer after your initial launch.

Hire a professional sales person. Thanks to sites like Upwork and Freelancer, finding top sales talent is closer within reach than you probably thought. Nonetheless, it’s critical that you remember ever to be on the lookout for good talent in this area, as you never know when you may need to hire another sales person. Upon finding your sales pro, be prepared to train and equip them with a realistic quota.

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5. Maintain a Positive Outlook

Once you fully transition from being a startup to being a full-fledged business with a track record under your belt, it’s important that you maintain your enthusiasm. Why? There will be days where things simply don’t go your way and when they come it’s essential that you meet them head on.

6. Consistently Seek New Networking Opportunities

While you may have a core of customers that keeps the gears churning for your business, you never want to rely on them as you never know when they might disappear. The key to not being too dependent on long-standing customers is to acquire new customers on a regular basis.

So let this be a reminder always to be selling. But it won’t happen unless you make sales the focus of your business. And remember, it doesn’t matter how much success you’ve already achieved, so long as you intend to stay in business, you should always be bringing new customers onboard.

7. Additional Considerations for Your Startup

  • Connect with Like-minded People Online: Building a business can get lonely sometimes. Things can get so quiet that if you’re not careful, you could find yourself drifting into depression. One way to offset this is to find a community of others in your field that you can reach out to when you want to talk. An added benefit of employing this strategy is that it can sometimes help you find new customers as every now and then you may stumble across someone who refers you business because they’re too busy to take on new work.
  • Banking: Banking is something that you want to establish even before you start your business. If you haven’t already had an opportunity to build a banking relationship, now is the time to do so.
  • Decide Whether an Office is Necessary: Unlike years past where not having an office meant that you might not be taken seriously, in the present day and age, many businesses opt for a virtual presence. So depending on your market, a physical presence may not be necessary. However, if you work in an industry where your audience expects you to have a storefront or physical location, just know that there are options. For example, if you’re on a shoe-string budget, you can rent a shared space or something similar.
  • Establish a Web Presence. If you’re still using a free email provider for your email address, please stop as this is one of the best ways to brand yourself as a newcomer. Instead, get a branded email. They are now easier than ever to get and are often very affordable. The same can be said of your website. If you don’t already have a site, go ahead and build or order one now. In fact, even if you’re low on funds and don’t possess web design experience, starting a website has never been easier as most website builder platforms allow you to drag and drop.

There you have it. While this list certainly wasn’t meant to be comprehensive, it at least covers the key areas. Armed with this list of ‘to dos’ you should now have a clear idea of what to do next.

Featured photo credit: readbrightly.com via readbrightly.com

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Last Updated on July 17, 2019

The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain)

The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain)

What happens in our heads when we set goals?

Apparently a lot more than you’d think.

Goal setting isn’t quite so simple as deciding on the things you’d like to accomplish and working towards them.

According to the research of psychologists, neurologists, and other scientists, setting a goal invests ourselves into the target as if we’d already accomplished it. That is, by setting something as a goal, however small or large, however near or far in the future, a part of our brain believes that desired outcome is an essential part of who we are – setting up the conditions that drive us to work towards the goals to fulfill the brain’s self-image.

Apparently, the brain cannot distinguish between things we want and things we have. Neurologically, then, our brains treat the failure to achieve our goal the same way as it treats the loss of a valued possession. And up until the moment, the goal is achieved, we have failed to achieve it, setting up a constant tension that the brain seeks to resolve.

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Ideally, this tension is resolved by driving us towards accomplishment. In many cases, though, the brain simply responds to the loss, causing us to feel fear, anxiety, even anguish, depending on the value of the as-yet-unattained goal.

Love, Loss, Dopamine, and Our Dreams

The brains functions are carried out by a stew of chemicals called neurotransmitters. You’ve probably heard of serotonin, which plays a key role in our emotional life – most of the effective anti-depressant medications on the market are serotonin reuptake inhibitors, meaning they regulate serotonin levels in the brain leading to more stable moods.

Somewhat less well-known is another neurotransmitter, dopamine. Among other things, dopamine acts as a motivator, creating a sensation of pleasure when the brain is stimulated by achievement. Dopamine is also involved in maintaining attention – some forms of ADHD are linked to irregular responses to dopamine.[1]

So dopamine plays a key role in keeping us focused on our goals and motivating us to attain them, rewarding our attention and achievement by elevating our mood. That is, we feel good when we work towards our goals.

Dopamine is related to wanting – to desire. The attainment of the object of our desire releases dopamine into our brains and we feel good. Conversely, the frustration of our desires starves us of dopamine, causing anxiety and fear.

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One of the greatest desires is romantic love – the long-lasting, “till death do us part” kind. It’s no surprise, then, that romantic love is sustained, at least in part, through the constant flow of dopamine released in the presence – real or imagined – of our true love. Loss of romantic love cuts off that supply of dopamine, which is why it feels like you’re dying – your brain responds by triggering all sorts of anxiety-related responses.

Herein lies obsession, as we go to ever-increasing lengths in search of that dopamine reward. Stalking specialists warn against any kind of contact with a stalker, positive or negative, because any response at all triggers that reward mechanism. If you let the phone ring 50 times and finally pick up on the 51st ring to tell your stalker off, your stalker gets his or her reward, and learns that all s/he has to do is wait for the phone to ring 51 times.

Romantic love isn’t the only kind of desire that can create this kind of dopamine addiction, though – as Captain Ahab (from Moby Dick) knew well, any suitably important goal can become an obsession once the mind has established ownership.

The Neurology of Ownership

Ownership turns out to be about a lot more than just legal rights. When we own something, we invest a part of ourselves into it – it becomes an extension of ourselves.

In a famous experiment at Cornell University, researchers gave students school logo coffee mugs, and then offered to trade them chocolate bars for the mugs. Very few were willing to make the trade, no matter how much they professed to like chocolate. Big deal, right? Maybe they just really liked those mugs![2]

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But when they reversed the experiment, handing out chocolate and then offering to trade mugs for the candy, they found that now, few students were all that interested in the mugs. Apparently the key thing about the mugs or the chocolate wasn’t whether students valued whatever they had in their possession, but simply that they had it in their possession.

This phenomenon is called the “endowment effect”. In a nutshell, the endowment effect occurs when we take ownership of an object (or idea, or person); in becoming “ours” it becomes integrated with our sense of identity, making us reluctant to part with it (losing it is seen as a loss, which triggers that dopamine shut-off I discussed above).

Interestingly, researchers have found that the endowment effect doesn’t require actual ownership or even possession to come into play. In fact, it’s enough to have a reasonable expectation of future possession for us to start thinking of something as a part of us – as jilted lovers, gambling losers, and 7-year olds denied a toy at the store have all experienced.

The Upshot for Goal-Setters

So what does all this mean for would-be achievers?

On one hand, it’s a warning against setting unreasonable goals. The bigger the potential for positive growth a goal has, the more anxiety and stress your brain is going to create around it’s non-achievement.

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It also suggests that the common wisdom to limit your goals to a small number of reasonable, attainable objectives is good advice. The more goals you have, the more ends your brain thinks it “owns” and therefore the more grief and fear the absence of those ends is going to cause you.

On a more positive note, the fact that the brain rewards our attentiveness by releasing dopamine means that our brain is working with us to direct us to achievement. Paying attention to your goals feels good, encouraging us to spend more time doing it. This may be why outcome visualization — a favorite technique of self-help gurus involving imagining yourself having completed your objectives — has such a poor track record in clinical studies. It effectively tricks our brain into rewarding us for achieving our goals even though we haven’t done it yet!

But ultimately, our brain wants us to achieve our goals, so that it’s a sense of who we are that can be fulfilled. And that’s pretty good news!

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Featured photo credit: Alexa Williams via unsplash.com

Reference

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