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The Challenges of being an Online Entrepreneur

The Challenges of being an Online Entrepreneur

Being an online entrepreneur requires more than just a website or blog where you gain revenue from ads. If you want to grow your business, you have to be ready for anything. This means being ready for small victories and huge setbacks. This also means having to focus on tasks like branding your business and finding ways to fulfill orders. As an online entrepreneur, you will be faced with decisions that involve building your market, expanding your connections, and making yourself more accessible to customers. If you’re ready to meet these challenges head on, then you’ll be successful as an online entrepreneur.

  1. You may win some, and you may lose some

Starting and building a business from the ground up are difficult endeavors, full of challenges along the way that you might not have ever expected. These challenges require decisions, and these decisions sometimes involve a dilemma, where a win-win outcome is not immediately recognizable.

When faced with a decision where none the choices appear to have a clear or foreseeable advantage, many entrepreneurs find it necessary to do some soul searching and self-reflection from a company standpoint. One of the hardest things is to analyze your business objectively, candidly identifying the flaws and problem areas that are holding you back.

Sometimes it helps to gain some outside perspective. Hiring a human resources company or efficiency expert to help streamline your operations may be helpful in finding out what your true strengths are. Do you have the appropriate company culture? It’s important that from the top down, the work environment reflects the results you want. How well do you understand the market you serve? You need to know your product and niche market inside and out, and a lot of the time, this comes with trial and error. Some of the decisions you need to make will be based on limited information at best, so being flexible will help you survive.

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2. Incorporating Data To Track Performance

Incorporating data simply means doing the math and crunching the numbers, and making a habit out of it. The numbers can be conversion rates, bounce rates, traffic percentage breakdowns and other pertinent, technical analysis. It can be a tedious job, but one of the most important tasks to internalize.

Online entrepreneurs that analyze the pertinent data, get insights from analytics, and act accordingly are the ones that perform well and ultimately become successful. Checking the metrics to focus on your business growth is what separates the successful from their failed comrades.

Track your data on a spreadsheet or whiteboard, showing a week-by-week difference in performance. This gives you some perspective of time, helping you and your team to understand what to prioritize.

3. Learning To Market Properly Online, Making Your Brand Cool As Hell

Be enthusiastic and passionate about your brand, products, and services. Your products reflect the energy that you’ve put into your work, and in turn, this fuels your energy to be more productive. For example, you may not notice it, but using the right fonts for your brand logo really helps when it comes to attracting your target customers. Keep an eye when it comes to details.

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Marketing and advertising tasks take a lot of time for research, so manage your time wisely. Research is a crucial step—get to know the other players in your niche industry, and see what they’re doing right as well as what they’re struggling with.

When the time comes, choose the right platform for your online business, one that offers the features you need while giving you access to the market that can most benefit from your offerings.

Be sure to promote your brand, engaging in paid advertising as needed, and keep tabs on whether doing this actually increases profits, or amounts to an unnecessary expense.

Get to know your market, its demographics, and their associated and outside interests. Appeal to them at several different levels to win them over.

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4. Competition and Choosing Your Allies

Because of low entry barriers and relatively easy access to funds, competition among online entrepreneurs is tougher than ever.

Many online entrepreneurs have a great idea in their heads, only to discover that someone has already beaten them to the punch. Hopefully, you’re the one dishing it out, not taking the blow. There will be others trying to reverse engineer your product and sell their product to your potential market. This is your chance to outshine them.

By complementing existing products of other companies, you position yourself as a partner or a collaborator, rather than a rival. This means choosing your battles wisely, which allows you to thrive, especially when dealing with someone in your industry who has a far greater following than you’ve got.

5. Security And Computer Knowledge (Or Lack Thereof)

Let’s be frank, if computer literacy is not your strong point, do something about it fast. Internet technology is showing no signs of letting up. Software is becoming even more sophisticated, and waiting around is not an option. At the very least, learn some online skills, or work with an IT professional to get up to speed.

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Security is essential for running an e-commerce site, meaning you need to monitor your security measures round the clock, and invest in reliable servers and networking hardware. One slip-up can spell disaster for your company’s credibility, so be vigilant.

6. Driving and Converting Traffic

There are many ways to drive traffic to your website, from promoting it via Google Adwords and Pay-Per-Click advertising, and writing natural, organic content. Of course, this requires time, just like many of the other challenges that you face as an online entrepreneur.

Converting traffic into cash is tricky, mostly because your customers, readers and website visitors might not be looking to buy. Integrate the commercial aspect of your website as naturally and unobtrusively as you can. Get to know what your visitors and readers really want by seeing what pages they visit, and which links they follow. Adapt accordingly.

To succeed as an entrepreneur online or as a brick-and-mortar establishment, it’s important to have drive. Learn as much as you can, and develop perseverance to get through the hardships. By overcoming obstacles, you can make it as a successful online entrepreneur.

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Last Updated on April 17, 2019

10 Essential Soft Skills That Will Help Advance Your Career

10 Essential Soft Skills That Will Help Advance Your Career

What’s the secret of professional success? Some of it lies in the mastery of your discipline and all the technical skills you have to carry out your job; but a much bigger part lies in the soft skills list you possess.

Soft skills are your people or relationship skills—how well you get along with others and your ability to communicate and collaborate—as well as the personal characteristics you bring to the job, such as optimism, a can-do attitude and the motivation to work hard. These skills are not always easy to point out, but their absence can cause serious problems and negatively affect the whole work atmosphere.

They say that hard skills will help you get the job, but soft skills will help you get along—and get ahead. With that in mind, here’s the top-10 essential soft skills list to help you advance your career.

1. Communication Skills

Communication skills are hands-down the most sought-after soft skill that bosses want, and this one ability covers a lot of ground.

To communicate well, you have to listen carefully, interpret the context of the conversation, express yourself clearly, persuade others of your point of view, check your body language and use an engaging presentation style that won’t intimidate or bore your audience. That’s a big ask!

Your personality traits can influence the way you communicate with others. For instance, some people get straight to the point and center their arguments around facts and logic; others are cooperative and sensitive to how others feel. Both these approaches are equally valuable but there can be misunderstandings if you don’t understand where the other person is coming from.

Taking a comprehensive personality test can help you understand why you communicate the way you do and where your blind spots are. It can also help you understand other communication styles is so you can tailor your communication to the person you’re dealing with.

After all, connecting with your conversation partner is the hallmark of good communication.

2. Flexibility

Change is an essential part of any business. Companies need employees who are flexible enough to work with new initiatives, open to new ideas, and generally are able to tough it out when things don’t go as planned.

Research has found a link between job performance and flexibility over the long term because there will be times when you have to step outside your routine and rise to fresh challenges that didn’t exist before.

Being flexible doesn’t mean you have to hop into a new task or job role like an expert. Rather, it’s about showing you’re willing to accept new responsibility and learn different things.

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Bosses look for people who are prepared to step outside their comfort zones and are open to alternative solutions when their first idea doesn’t work.

3. Being a Team Player

Working on a team can be challenging but learning to do it well can definitely help you get ahead in your career. Employers look for people who can negotiate, cooperate and manage conflicts with other people to achieve a common goal. That includes the ability to build lasting relationships with customers and clients.

What makes a good team player? Essentially, it’s someone who knows the goal and knows her role. Employers look for evidence that you know your strengths, your responsibilities and how you can best contribute to the team, then put those skills into action by sharing ideas and communicating in a respectful manner. That’s the definition of being a good team player.

This is another area where taking a personality test can help you get ahead. When teams work together, each member brings a unique set of skills and qualities to the group. Research has shown that different combinations of personalities affect how teams collaborate and how productive they are.

Knowing who you are, and how you work on a team, can drive new insights and open the door to better teamwork.

4. Positive Mental Attitude

There are plenty of things you can’t change at work, like the people you work with or the fact that the printer is broken again. The one thing you can change is how much you let these things bother you.

Bosses like people who are calm, rational and upbeat—those who diffuse tensions in the workplace, not get all grouchy and go around slamming doors.

Studies show that people who maintain a sunny disposition have better relationships at work, are happier in their jobs and make better decisions than those who whine and complain. Some suggest that a positive mental attitude can also make you live longer—which means it’s beneficial for every area of your life![1]

It’s not always easy to keep a “glass half full” mentality when work is stressful and the deadlines are piling up. But there are some things you can do to help maintain a positive attitude. Laughing at your unfortunate circumstances keeps the work environment positive, and taking “sanity” breaks can help you keep your cool in high-pressure situations.

Managers look for positive mental attitude in a team member that is ready for a promotion, so it really does pay to keep your cool in challenging situations.

5. A Strong Work Ethic

People with a strong work ethic are committed to the role, persevere when things get tough and are inspired by challenge. These people are ambassadors for the organization, and will always be seen as top talent and ideal candidates.

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If you can exhibit this skill, then expect to be seen as a great candidate, eligible for new opportunities and positions throughout your career.

Since a strong work ethic can mean different things to different people, it helps to show specific examples of your exceptional work ethic during a performance appraisal or interview. For instance, you might talk about:

  • A time when you persisted in the face of challenges and did not shy away from hard work.
  • How you volunteered to help with projects even though these tasks did not form part of your job description.
  • The networking, workplace learning and skills betterment you’ve undertaken, which shows ambition and drive (people with a strong work ethic have those qualities in spades).
  • How you own your mistakes and never, ever point the finger of blame at others.

For help with building a strong work ethic, check out these tips: How to Build a Reliable Work Ethic

6. Public Speaking

Who’s terrified of public speaking? Pretty much everyone, since public speaking is America’s number one fear, ahead of death at number five and loneliness at number seven.

Yet, according to Warren Buffett, mastering this one skill you could increase your personal value by 50 percent.[2] That’s huge!

If you’re not natural at public speaking, you’re in good company. Buffett had to work hard to overcome his stage fright and once dropped out of a public-speaking course before it started—because he was afraid of public speaking! He eventually realized that he needed to build up his confidence by just doing it; over and over in front of small groups.

For a more structured approach, Toastmasters International teaches public speaking and leadership skills through a variety of pathways. Membership of this non-profit looks good on your resume but the real payoff will come when you can put your newfound skills to use on the job or in the interview room.

Or, you can check out this advice: The Ultimate Public Speaking Tips to Hook and Impress Any Audience

7. Integrity

From a manager’s point of view, the two integrity skills that will set you apart are:

  • Always doing what you say you will do
  • Owning an error instead of minimizing or hiding it

…even when no one is around to check up on you.

There are lots of people who have climbed the ladder without scruples, but they are not the people who others trust, respect and support when promotion time comes around.

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Behaving with integrity is a safe and consistent way to enhance your reputation and achieve your professional goals.

8. Managing Your Time

Phone calls, texts, Slack pings, meetings, huddles, side projects, multitasking—we are busier today than any generation before us. There’s no denying the workplace is an incredibly distracting place to be.

A lot of us have traded effectiveness for busyness which we wear as a badge of honor, both as a proxy for productivity and to show our value to the company. But what bosses want, what they really, really want, is someone who actually gets stuff done on time.

Time management is not merely the art of being on time, but of managing your time so you focus on the projects that really matter and add value to the business. This means prioritizing well, sticking to schedules, delegating, and not getting distracted by tasks that are easier to perform or less important. It means planning ahead and learning when it’s appropriate to say no.

Time management can be a tough skill to maintain, but not a difficult one to pick up. Monitor your actions for a few days—how long do your tasks take to finish? What’s interrupting you? What causes you to lose focus? Once you have the answers to these questions, you can set a schedule for yourself to make sure you’re spending your time wisely and this valuable asset is never wasted.

These 20 Quick Time Management Tips to Super Boost Your Productivity are also great to try.

9. Assertiveness

In any workplace, you typically will find people with the following conflict styles:

  • Passive: Those who go out of their way to avoid conflict.
  • Passive-aggressive: Those who express their negative feelings through actions rather than words.
  • Aggressive: Those who respond to conflict in a hostile and rude manner. These people get their opinion heard but they won’t make any friends in the process.
  • Assertive: People who stick up for their rights while still respecting the rights of others.

Managers look for assertiveness above all other styles because it allows decisions to be made without conflict or alienating people.

How do you use this information for yourself?

It starts with understanding your personality so you can anticipate how you will react when conflict arises and address your own shortcomings. Then, you can start influencing the team for top results, and securing your own career advancement in the process.

Learn how to be assertive and gain respect:

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How to Be Assertive and Stand up for Yourself the Smart Way

10. Creative Thinking

LinkedIn recently analyzed over 50,000 skills that employers search for when looking for candidates to find out what skills are currently in demand.[3] Taking the number-one slot on the 2019 soft skills list was creativity: the ability to solve problems and think outside the box.

Creativity is about bringing fresh, and sometimes unorthodox, ideas to the table. This helps companies to innovate, and companies that do not innovate will not survive very long.

How do you showcase your creative thinking skills? The golden rule is to participate.

Be brave and share your ideas during group brainstorming sessions. Volunteer to run a society, networking event or recruitment drive. Ask “what if” questions: “What if we add this information to the client welcome pack?” “What if we eliminate step 3 from the process?”

These activities demonstrate that you’re prepared to go beyond “business as usual” towards creative problem solving—an ability that will serve you every day, all throughout your career.

You can learn to unleash your creativity power:

What Is Creativity? We All Have It, and Need It

Final Thoughts

The good news? Every item on this soft skills list can be learned. Although you may feel lacking in certain areas, taking an inventory of your strengths and weaknesses will allow you to focus in on the areas that you’ll benefit from developing.

So take an inventory of your personality, skills, and talents. This will give you a baseline for your communication style, attitude to change, conscientiousness and more. You can then identify your weak areas and develop strategies for improving your team-building, assertiveness and conflict skills.

The better news? The effort is worth it. Developing your soft skills opens the door to a new job or a promotion, and helps you succeed once you get there.

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Featured photo credit: Rachael Gorjestani via unsplash.com

Reference

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