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5 Important Lessons Every Entrepreneur Should Learn

5 Important Lessons Every Entrepreneur Should Learn

A lot of people aspire to be successful entrepreneurs. When startups like Facebook, Twitter, Uber and Instagram go from rags to riches overnight; entrepreneurship seems exciting. Beginning their own startup offers creative millennials the chance to get out from under their bosses, break free and enjoy independence and success. Remember that if something looks too good to be true, that’s because it probably is.

The giddy heights of success are rarely reached without hard work, tough decisions and overcoming obstacles along the way. Being an entrepreneur means learning how to handle the bad days, overcome problems and keep your sanity (and cash flow) as you rise to the top. Check out these 5 important lessons every entrepreneur should learn.

Great Companies Can Grow from Failure

Many a great company has risen from the ashes of a previous failure. Failure, in fact, is sometimes more important than success when starting a new project. Learning from your mistakes gives you a better understanding of your company’s position in the market and a chance to tailor your product to your audience.

Just think about Instagram. Creator Kevin Systrom was among the first contenders on the Forbes 30-Under-30 list. But Instagram didn’t start out as a photo editing tool. Instagram was originally planned to be a geolocation app. What happened? Nobody used it.

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Faced with a do-or-die situation on his hands, Systrom decided to focus on what his customers wanted instead, which was filtering and sharing photos. Instead of collapsing at the prospect of failure, he turned things around to become a 32-year old billionaire today.

No one can learn everything just from reading books and business journals. Personal experience is key, and this generally means both setbacks and progress. Many successful entrepreneurs have failed on their first attempt and used their experiences to improve and grow stronger.

Be Sure to Listen to Your Customers

Building a long-term customer relationship is essential for any company, whether you work directly with consumers or with other businesses in the supply chain. Luckily, in a world dominated by social media, it’s easy to continue a permanent dialog between your brand and your customers.

Entrepreneurs now have access to updated information about their target audience and can use it to continuously improve their products. The most successful entrepreneurs are good listeners and follow feedback to understand their customers’ consumption habits. They then use this information to help grow their businesses.

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Knowing how your customers are thinking and what they want or need allows staying one step ahead of the competitors. When you have the right data to anticipate your buyers’ future needs, you can tailor your product or service accordingly.

Work with The Right People

No one can build a strong company on their own, at least not a multi-million-dollar concern. So one of the most important lessons an entrepreneur should learn is to surround themselves with intelligent people. Networking is the order of the day, and entrepreneurs of today are finding strength in numbers. Surrounding yourself with like-minded people is one of the best ways to learn and grow your business.

Many new entrepreneurs spend long hours worrying about every last detail and getting sucked into managing day-to-day tasks. But when you spend too long working in your business, answering phones and wearing every hat; you can end up losing sight of the bigger picture. Apart from relying on a network of support and interchanging ideas; hiring the right staff to help you grow is essential.

Being the smartest person on your team is not the right strategy if you want to succeed. You should always think about hiring people who know more than you do in certain areas, who will challenge you and help take your startup and make it stronger.

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Social Proof is Vital

How times have changed from the one-way advertising mediums of the past. We no longer accept a bright-toothed smile starting down at us from a billboard, or a door-to-door salesman spouting the advantages of his product. The internet and amount of time young consumers spend on it has brought with it transparency in business interactions.

Stephen May, creator of Memory Foam Doctor, a site dedicated to helping consumers find the right mattress, understands the power of peer reviews. His entire portal, in fact, is dedicated to transparent product reviews, expert opinions, and consumer experience. May has over 50,000 individual consumer reviews on his site. No money is taken for reviewing a product, so customers can trust that the information they’re reading is unbiased and transparent.

Over 70% of consumers confirm that positive customer reviews can cause them to trust a business more. Smart entrepreneurs then, need to understand how powerful harnessing social proof can be for propelling their businesses forward. If you don’t include customer reviews on your website, you can guarantee the information will be online elsewhere.

Whether it comes from an expert, celebrity or a regular user, social proof is an excellent tactic when it comes to gaining trust among new customers. You can get support by finding a website building guide and checking its resources and advice.

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Outsourcing Makes a Company More Competitive

Trying to do everything in-house requires a lot of time, money and resources. All of which could be better invested by outsourcing certain tasks. If your expertise doesn’t lie in cyber security, accounting, online marketing, or any other area, you’ll be more able to stay focused on your core business by getting it done out of the house.

Outsourcing gives your company access to skilled teams, often with lower cost and increased efficiency. Some business owners are afraid to outsource and lose control, but smart entrepreneurs know that taking risks is part of the daily routine. Finding trustworthy partners to work with is vital for a company’s competitiveness.

Every day provides us with a chance to learn something new. Most entrepreneurs learn these lessons in hard ways, after trying several paths to make their companies more successful. But if you ever feel deflated or defeated, take heart; you’re not the only one. If you’ve failed at least once, been turned down or rejected, then raise a glass to Oprah, Branson, and Gates. Just a small number of ridiculously successful entrepreneurs who learned valuable lessons the hard way.

Featured photo credit: elcapatrimonial via elcapatrimonial.com.br

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Erick Clifford

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Last Updated on February 11, 2021

10 Secrets of Making Every Presentation Fun, Engaging, and Enjoyable

10 Secrets of Making Every Presentation Fun, Engaging, and Enjoyable

Not a lot of people are good at public speaking. You could even say that virtually everyone needs to get some practice, and preferably good guidance, before they can learn to stay calm when facing a room full of people. Having all eyes on you is an uncomfortable experience and it takes time to get used to. However, even if you can manage to control your stage fright and stay focused, it doesn’t necessarily mean that your presentation won’t put people to sleep. This is usually the case with long presentations on a very dull subject, with the presenter speaking in a monotone voice and dimming the lights to play a PowerPoint presentation.

You have to work hard to develop the right skills

If you want to be remembered and actually get people engaged, you need to make your presentation fun and enjoyable, without coming off as corny or desperate to please. I know, it doesn’t sound that easy at all! A good presentation during a promotional event or given to an important client can be a game changer for your business, so it is easy to get stressed out and fail to perform all that well. Luckily, giving an interesting lecture is something that can be practiced and perfected. There is plenty of advice out there on the topic, but let’s look at the most important aspects of giving a memorable and fun presentation.

1. Make your presentation short and sweet

With very long, meandering speeches you tend to lose the audience pretty early on, and from then on out it’s just a test of endurance for the few bravest listeners. Not only will people’s attention start to drop rapidly after sitting and listening to you talk for 30 minutes, but you also risk watering down your core ideas and leaving your audience with little in the way of key phrases and important bits of information to take away from the whole ordeal. Famous speakers throughout history have known the importance of condensing the information by using well thought out sentences and short phrases loaded with meaning.

JFK’s famous: ”It’s not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country,” expresses so much in very few words and gets the audience thinking. Ancient Spartans, for example were famous for their quick, dry wit, often demolishing their opponent’s argument with a single word or phrase. You’ll want to channel that ancient spirit and be as concise as possible when preparing your presentation.

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2. Open up with a good ice breaker

At the beginning, you are new to the audience. There is no rapport, no trust and the atmosphere is fairly neutral. Even if some of the people there know you personally, the concept of you as an authority on a particular matter giving a speech will be foreign to them. The best way to encourage a warm and friendly atmosphere is to get some kind of emotional response out of the audience right at the beginning. It doesn’t matter what emotion it is, you just need to connect with them on a more personal level. It can be shock, curiosity, laughter, knowing smirks, nervousness – whatever gets them out of that initial feeling of indifference. There are different kinds of effective ice-breakers, but generally speaking, the most successful ones utilize one of these tactics:

  • Joking
  • Tugging on their heart strings
  • Dropping a bombastic statement
  • Telling an interesting and relevant anecdote
  • Using a metaphor or drawing comparisons

You can make a small, self-deprecating comment, stir the presentation one way and then suddenly surprise the audience, use sarcasm, open up with a short childhood story that taught you a lesson, quote a famous person and elaborate on it from personal experience, use an inspirational anecdote or hit them with a bit of nostalgia. Just remember to keep it short and move on once you’ve gotten a reaction.

3. Keep things simple and to the point

Once you’re done warming up the crowd you can ease them into the core concepts and important ideas that you will be presenting. Keep the same presentation style thoughout. If you’ve started off a bit ironic, using dry wit, you can’t just jump into a boring monologue. If you’ve started off with a bang, telling a couple of great little jokes and getting the crowd riled up, you have to keep them happy by throwing in little jokes here and there and being generally positive and energetic during the presentation. You need a certain structure that you won’t deviate too far from at any point. A good game plan consists of several important points that need to be addressed efficiently. This means moving on from one point to another in a logical manner, coming to a sound conclusion and making sure to accentuate the key information.

4. Use a healthy dose of humor

Some of the best speeches and presentations in the world, which have been heard and viewed by millions, all feature plenty of humor. No matter the subject, a great speaker will use natural charisma, humor and beautiful language to convey their points and get the crowd excited about what they are saying. A great example of building rapport with the audience through the use of humor is Barrack Obama talking about the government building Iron Man.

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It is silly and fun, and absolutely not something that you would expect from a man in a position of power speaking in such a serious setting – and it’s exactly why it works. The more serious the situation and the bigger the accent on proper social behavior, the harder your jokes will hit.

5. Try to tell a story instead of ranting

Some people can do all of the above things right and still manage to turn their short and fun little presentation into a chaotic mess of information. You don’t want your speech to look like you just threw a bunch of information in a blender in no particular order. To avoid rambling, create a strong structure. Start with the ice breaker, introduce the core concepts and your goals briefly, elaborate on the various points in a bit more detail, draw logical conclusions and leave your audience with a clear takeaway message. You want to flow naturally from one part to the next like you are telling a big story chapter by chapter.

6. Practice your delivery

Standing in front of the mirror and practicing a speech or presentation is a technique as old as mirrors – well, come to think of it, as old as human speech, since you can see yourself reflected in any clear and calm body of water – and that means that it is tried and true. The theory is incredibly simple, yet the real problem is actually putting in the effort day in and day out. Work on your posture, your tone of voice, accent, pauses between sentences and facial expressions. The most important thing is to talk slowly and loudly enough to be heard and understood clearly. Many famous speakers, such as Demosthenes and King George VI, overcame speech impediments through hard work.

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7. Move around and use your hands

Although you won’t instill confidence in your project if you are very jittery, moving around erratically, not knowing what to do with your hands and making fast movements, standing dead still can be just as bad. You shouldn’t be afraid to use your arms and hands when talking as it makes you seem more passionate and confident. The same goes for moving around and taking up some space. However, try to make slower, calculated and deliberate movements. You want your movements to seem powerful, yet effortless. You can achieve this through practice.

8. Engage the audience by making them relate

Sometimes you will lose the audience somewhat in techno-babble, numbers, graphs and abstract ideas. At that point it is important to reel them back in using some good, old-fashioned storytelling. Make comparisons to events from everyday life that most people are more than familiar with. By making things look simple, not only will you help your audience get a better understanding of the subject by enabling them to visualize the information more clearly, you will also draw a connection between you. After all, you are all just regular people with similar experience, you just happen to be performing different roles at the moment.

9. Use funny images in your slides

Although slides are not really necessary at all times, if you do need them to make your point and present your information more effectively, it’s best to liven them up. They say that facts aren’t always black and white, and your presentation should reflect this. Add a bit of color, make the information stand out and use an interesting animation to switch from slide to slide. You can use the slides to add some more humor, both in terms of the text and the images. An image that is used to elicit a positive response needs to be funny within the context of what you are discussing. For example, if you are discussing the topic of authority, an image of Eric Cartman from South Park in a police uniform, demanding that you respect his “authoritah,” is a nice way to have a bit of fun and lighten things up.

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10. End on a more serious note

When all is said and done you will want the audience to remember the core concepts and keep thinking about what you have said after the presentation is over. This is why you should let things naturally calm down and end with an important idea, quote or even a question. Plant a seed in their mind and make them think. Let us turn to Patrick Henry for a great way to end a speech: “Is life so dear or peace so sweet as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death.”

As you can see, there is quite a bit to learn when it comes to giving a good presentation, one that is both memorable and fun. Be sure to work on your skills tirelessly and follow in the footsteps of great orators.

Featured photo credit: Austin Distel via unsplash.com

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