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How to Be a Successful Entrepreneur (15 Powerful Actions to Take Today)

How to Be a Successful Entrepreneur (15 Powerful Actions to Take Today)
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The allure of being your own boss, along with the no-ceiling income that comes along with it is hard for most people to resist. However, more often than not, the odds will be stacked against you and that’s why 9 out of 10 startups fail, according to Fortune.[1]

But what about the 1 out of 10 that have succeeded? Although there’s no single foolproof way to become a successful entrepreneur, success still leaves patterns and clues. Here are 15 powerful actions you can take today to make your entrepreneurship dreams a successful reality:

1. Identify your goals

Goal-setting may not be the most sexy-sounding task, but it’s one that’s crucial to your success. Just think, if you don’t know where you’re going, how are you going to know when you get there?

Setting goals can take a few basic forms for aspiring entrepreneurs:

Income goals

Your income is one of the first few and most important considerations when it comes to running a business because more often than not, you’ll need to give up something else to find time to delve into entrepreneurship.

Are you looking to become a millionaire in a few short years? Or are you gunning for a spot next to billionaires like Mark Zuckerburg and Warren Buffett?

Knowing upfront what your income expectations are will keep you accountable to yourself and other stakeholders in your company or your family back home.

With that being said, however, being overly focused on revenue can affect the way you run your business in negative ways. Be sure to do regular reviews to see if you’re on track.

Lifestyle goals

Entrepreneurship is not a 9-5 job. In most cases, there aren’t any fixed hours and you’ll typically end up working harder than you have ever worked before. The faster you realize that the better, so you can evaluate whether this may or may not be the lifestyle you want to live in the long term.

Various entrepreneurs instead decide to run lifestyle businesses where they work remotely from any location and are selective with the work they decide to accept.

If you intend to work remotely with a four-hour work week, the business that you decide to do will have to enable you to do that. At the same time, by balancing out projections with your income goals, you’ll get a much better idea of whether your decision is a feasible one.

2. Outsource tedious tasks

As an entrepreneur, you’ll likely be starved for time on a regular basis. Dedicating your time solely to high value tasks and outsourcing the rest will help you reclaim your sanity and grow your business faster.

A good temporary option is to consider hiring interns. This can be very beneficial for startups that are strapped for cash.

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Typically, internships are meant to give interns real-world working experience at a more conservative allowance. This lets interns learn the ropes without long-term commitment whilst business owners get to save a little bit of cash at the start.

Otherwise, you can also try hiring freelancers from Fiverr to help you in the areas that you do not specialise in. This can mean writing, designing or even video editing.

Although it may not be tedious per say, it does help you manage your time more efficiently by letting you work on your strengths.

3. Automate processes with technology

We live in an age where we can automate most processes using software and algorithms. Not only that, automation is fundamental in scaling a company’s marketing and also drives revenue – 60% of which are B2B buying process done online according to Forbes.[2]

A low-hanging function for automation is marketing. Email marketing software like MailChimp lets you configure autoresponders to send sequences of mails without any additional involvement after the first setup.

Automating processes is also extremely efficient as it helps handle repetitive tasks that can be too time consuming. What you want is to let your staff maximise their time spent working on more useful things.

Another example is a software program called ‘Rosie the Robot’, developed by the West Monroe Partners (WMP).[3]

This software program takes on cumbersome and manual tasks off, including the hiring system – where it uploads names, addresses, dates of birth and other employee information into several systems such as travel and expense, payroll and insurance.

This cuts down the process time taken – whereby a person takes half an hour to settle this task, it takes only five minutes for the software to do so.

4. Invest in design sparingly

Investing in branding and design might seem like an action that is reserved for much bigger companies or more season entrepreneurs, but it can increase profits exponentially when done right – even for smaller businesses.

A professional visual identity not only helps you appear more professional, but in the long run, new customers will find you more trustworthy and at times premium.

Naturally, you don’t want to go all out on branding by spending thousands when you first start. Instead, try using free online tools like LogoJoy or developing a single-page brand guideline[4] for the time being.

If you need to develop collateral, try using some free icons available online for your projects instead of paying for expensive stock imagery.

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5. Get online, or be forgotten

In today’s digital market, if you’re not online, you don’t exist. Even traditional businesses can benefit greatly from leveraging digital marketing and developing a strong online presence.

Start by getting yourself a hosting account for your company’s website domain, register all the name-brand social handles before they get snapped up by others and begin to populate these platforms with content.

What made a real difference for me in the early stages of developing my business was purchasing my own domain from platforms like NameCheap or GoDaddy. This provided a contact point for interested customers or collaborators to reach out to me directly via a simple contact form.

If you’re not so much of a techie, consider using platforms like SquareSpace or Wix to get started quickly without any programming experience.

6.Use videos to market your business

Almost 5 billion Youtube videos are watched everyday. Aside from that, we’re seeing a rise in video productions used on a variet y of social platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Linkedin and more. Research has also shown that videos have been proven to increase retention by 80% when used correctly.[5]

If you aren’t yet leveraging on videos for your business, some ways you can consider are:

  1. Informational videos that educate your target audience to help them get what they want.
  2. Product-specific videos to expound on the benefits of your services or offerings.
  3. Timely statistical videos that piggyback on current news for relevance.

7. Conduct an Initial Coin Offering (ICO)

This might not apply to every business, but if you’re working with a strong technical team with blockchain ambitions, this could be a worthy consideration.

Initial Coin Offerings are quickly becoming one of the most popular ways to raise funding rivalling even venture capital. It’s quick, loosely regulated (as at 2018) and can potentially solve your cash problems.

The only drawback is that you’ll only be able to receive funds in cryptocurrency which you’ll then need to convert into fiat.

8. Write a blog

Starting and writing a blog is one of the easiest ways to get noticed online. Regularly sharing useful and valuable information to your prospective customers via your blog can potentially increase traffic to your site as well as aid in building authority for your brand.

A popular strategy that involves writing for blogs known as ‘guest posting’ is not only a great way to drive traffic to your blog from other platforms, it also helps you rank on Google’s search rankings. The only catch is that you’ll have to earn a spot by pitching your own stories.

At the same time, there are other platforms like Medium and Linkedin with their own pool of users where anyone can publish content. Consider syndicating content from your blog on these platforms in the early stages to build a following and take your content much further.

With the rising popularity and efficacy of content marketing as a strategy, its no wonder thousands of business owners have benefitted from it as a long-term strategy.

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9. Build an email list

Any seasoned business owner will tell you that your list or database of contacts is one of the most valuable assets you can have. It’s important that you store the contact information of qualified individuals that might be interested in your products and services.

This is so you can reach out to them consistently using email marketing software like MailChimp, which can keep your sales pipeline full and your income steady.

Developing a nurturing cycle – a series of emails for new subscribers that opt-in to your email list will increase your chances of converting them into paying customers by maintaining top-of-mind presence and developing deeper relationships.

10. Try networking

They say your network is your ‘net worth’. Networking is a give-and-take exercise that requires you to be authentic, sometimes daring but most importantly, always resourceful.

Getting connected to prolific individuals or magnates in adjacent industries can accelerate the growth of your business with opportunities that you may not have gotten, if you had not put yourself out there to meet new people.

Try heading to your local casual networking meetups or to a more formal conference with a purpose: meeting people that you can help and the ones that can help you.

11. Develop a personal brand

If you are the face of your business, you’ll do well by investing in developing a personal brand. This means that if people trust you, they’ll by association, trust the business.

A great example of someone who’s successfully done so is Neil Patel – someone who’s spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on growing his personal brand. He has built a strong audience, consistently writes contrarian thought pieces and has also delivered massive value to his followers.

Although it can be a daunting experience when it comes to building a personal brand starting from ground zero, here are some simple yet helpful tips to make your journey as seamless as possible:

  • Decide what you stand for as a brand.
  • Decide what you don’t stand for as a brand.
  • Develop content for your social channels that are helpful to your audience but also communicate your stance on topics related to your expertise.

12. Model after your competitors or differentiate

This might sound counterintuitive but your competitors with a longstanding business can be useful references for the way you run yours.

Take a leaf from their strategies to acquire more customers and grow your bottom-line. More often than not, you’ll find that they’ve made all the mistakes that you can avoid to get to their current method of operation. Consider:

  • How they do marketing – how do they gain awareness and more customers?
  • Their brand messaging and how they communicate to the public
  • The way they price their services

Naturally, there may also be a lot of things your competitors are doing wrong. Do well to avoid those pitfalls –with the benefit of hindsight– and you’ll get ahead of them one day.

13. Form strategic partnerships

Partnerships are one of the fastest ways to grow your business without using too much of your own resources. The best partnerships are ones where partners have similar target audiences but don’t directly compete with each other.

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These strategic partnerships could come in the form of co-marketing efforts where you organise campaigns together, ultimately sharing cost and contact database for promotion.

Another basic way to collaborate with partners is to develop referral programs – if your partner refers a successful sale, they’ll get a kickback commission and vice versa.

14. Improve your public speaking

Public Speaking is a skill that legendary investor Warren Buffett advocates for people to learn in order to boost their careers and success in life – and it is with good reason.

Being able to speak well and articulate confidently on stage can mean increased trust and visibility for your business on the right platforms.

Try offering an educational session at a local business association full of your target audiences. You’ll be surprised at how much traction you can get when attendees start to recognise you as a thought-leader on your subject.

You can also take a look at my detailed guide about public speaking to learn more tips:

The Ultimate Public Speaking Tips to Hook and Impress Any Audience

15. Manage your cash flow

One of the biggest killers of businesses is badly managed cash flow, where customers don’t pay on time coupled with high regular expenses in your business.

Work with an accountant to forecast spending and keep a close eye on your accounts receivables. That way, you’ll get to avoid a messy time where you’re short on cash not because you don’t have the business, but because you failed to collect payment on time.

The bottom line

These tips should be enough to get you started, but growing a company is a big undertaking not meant for the faint of heart.

Hunker down, apply what you learn and you can get that much closer to your own success as a new entrepreneur!

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

Reference

More by this author

Eugene Cheng

Eugene is Lifehack's Entrepreneurship Expert. He is the co-founder and creative lead of HighSpark, offering presentation training for companies.

Why Leadership and Management Are Two Sides of a Coin How to Overcome the Fear of Public Speaking (A Step-by-Step Guide) How to Succeed in Business: 10 Skills Every Entrepreneur Needs How to Learn Business as an Aspiring Entrepreneur 10 Most Successful Entrepreneurs (And What to Learn from Them)

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Published on July 27, 2021

15 Smart Video Conferencing Etiquette Tips to Follow

15 Smart Video Conferencing Etiquette Tips to Follow
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During the pandemic, video conferencing replaced in-person meetings and has now become the standard option for business meetings. Over the past 17 months, most workers have gotten past the video conferencing learning curve with Zoom or Microsoft Teams (or their platform of choice).

But just as with in-person meetings, attention can wax and wane. Some say we’re just not used to staring at ourselves so much on the screen. Instead of fixating on that, try employing smart video conferencing etiquette, or you may risk indiscretions that will flag you as a slacker.

Put the Pro in Professional

After more than a year of fine-tuning, here are the new rules of video conferencing etiquette.

1. Mute Your Mobile and Other Devices

The first video conference etiquette you need to know is muting your other devices. Just as in the pre-COVID days, someone’s obnoxious ring tone blaring Taylor Swift’s newest single in the middle of a meeting is also an annoyance if it happens during a Zoom meeting and so is the inevitable fumbling to turn off the sound. Even the apologies to the group get tiresome.

Also, when notifications are activated on the computer that you’re using for the meeting, the incoming message takes over the audio and you’ll miss out on snippets of the conversation. Be sure to eliminate this possible faux pas.

2. Dress the Part

While working from home, you may have fallen into the habit of slipping on your comfiest T-shirt each day. Hey, no judgments! But before you log on to your video conference, try to make an effort with your appearance.

Depending on your company culture and the importance of your meeting, consider dressing the part of the professional whom you wish to project. It will help you feel more self-assured, and others will likely take you more seriously.

For women, wear light make-up, put on earrings, and make sure your blouse is crisply pressed. For men, show up freshly shaved. Wearing a crisp collared shirt in a solid color will usually suffice.

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Pro Tip: Stay away from wearing white or black, unless those colors look great on you. Consider wearing light blue or brown instead.

3. Stage Your Workspace

Have you noticed the backdrops of experts interviewed on news shows? Bookshelves and photographs are carefully curated, and no busy-patterned furniture or artwork is in sight.

Take note of what appears behind you when you choose the location of your video conferences. Piles of junk mail on the table or stacks of folded laundry on the couch will convey more about your personal life than you care to share. Make sure you remove clutter from the camera’s eye, and present a tidy, orderly workspace to your colleagues, coworkers, and bosses.

4. Put Some Thought Into Lighting and Perspective

Be aware that in a video conference, your computer camera can actually make you look up to ten pounds heavier depending on where you sit. But you can easily drop those added pounds by moving back from the screen to diminish the wide-angle distortion.

Frame your head on the screen by tilting the screen up or down. Also, it’s best to not place yourself in front of a window or bright light, which makes you appear in shadow. Instead, face the light source, moving it (or yourself) until you have a flattering amount of illumination. You can also purchase some small spotlights that allow you to add light as needed.

Pro Tip: If your lights add too much redness to your skin, consider counter-balancing with a green filter.

Remember That Half of Life Is Showing Up

5. Arrive on Time

In the old days of in-person meetings, it was nearly impossible to slip in late into a meeting unnoticed. In today’s video conferences, logging in late still shows poor form. Instead, strive to arrive five minutes early and get yourself settled.

Once the meeting is underway, the host may be less attentive about late arrivals waiting to be let in. Diverting the host’s attention away from the meeting with a tardy entry request is the ultimate giveaway that you didn’t honor the schedule. If you don’t want a black mark against you, log in on time.

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6. Turn on Your Video

Few people like to see their face on the screen, but buck up and turn on your camera in video conferences. In most cases, it’s better to be a face on a screen than a name in a blank square. Your statements will be more memorable when other meeting attendees can see you.

If you need to turn off the video, either because of a poor connection, some commotion in the room, or a need for a quick break, give a short explanation via the chat feature. Then, go back on video as soon as you’re able.

Pro Tip: Keep your explanation for your departure pithy. “Sorry! Doorbell rang. Back in five” says it all. Be sure to honor what you say in chat and really do return in five minutes.

7. Plan Ahead Before Sharing Your Screen

Don’t be one of those people who makes everyone else wait as you click through folders in search of a document. That’s just poor video conferencing etiquette. If you know you’ll need to share a document or video on your screen, prepare by pulling it out of its folder and onto your desktop. Also, clean up the files and folders on your desktop to reduce clutter and facilitate easy access. Close other programs like chat, calendar notifications, and email. Disable pop-up notifications to ensure there’ll be no unforeseen distractions.

Be sure to remind the host before the meeting that you’ll need them to activate the screen-sharing function. Show courtesy once you’re finished by hitting “stop share” to return to the screen with participants.

Attend to the Pesky Details

8. Make Sure That Meetings Remain Right-Sized

With the easy accessibility of video conferencing, it can be tempting to extend the meeting invitation beyond the core group and include everyone peripherally involved in a project. But just as with in-person meetings, the more people involved, the more unwieldy the meeting becomes.

Use good judgment when asking others to sit through a video conference so that you don’t needlessly take up others’ time and so that participants can be fully engaged.

9. Remember to “Unmute” Before You Speak

Most of us are likely able to count on one hand the number of video conferences when someone didn’t have to be reminded, “You’re on mute!” Forgetting to unmute before speaking has become one of the most common missteps in video conferencing.[1]

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Show everyone your impeccable video-conferencing poise by managing your mute feature with flawless control.

10. Stay on Point to Keep the Meeting Length in Check

As with in-person meetings, an agenda with assigned time limits for discussions remains necessary to keep a meeting focused. Data shows, however, that video conferencing can actually reduce meeting time.[2] Reasons include the elimination of commuting time and the ability to screen share and annotate to keep everyone on task.

Additionally, side conversations are virtually impossible with video conferencing now that you can no longer have back-and-forth exchanges with the person beside you.

Pro Tip: If you’re running the meeting, let attendees know in advance the protocol for the chat feature. Is it okay for them to “chat among themselves” or not? (See point 11, as well.)

Talking Has a Time and a Place

11. Chat Appropriately

Just like side conversations or texting in an in-person meeting, the use of the chat feature during a video conference can be disrespectful unless it’s directed to all participants. Hence, it’s good video conferencing etiquette to mind your use of the chat.

At the start of the meeting, you may want to ask the host if it’s alright for participants to use the chat feature. This allows them to disable it if they choose. Used appropriately, it can be a helpful tool to clarify or amplify an earlier point once the conversation has moved on or to let the group know that you need to sign off early (and why).

12. Use the “Raise Hand” Feature to Avoid Interruptions

The slight lag in many video conferences can result in speaking over another person if you attempt to jump into a conversation. To avoid this awkward interruption, indicate when you have something to add to the discussion with the raise-your-hand feature that signals the host you would like to speak. This effective meeting management device makes video conferencing run more smoothly, especially with a large group, but it must be activated and monitored by the host.

Pro Tip: For meetings of six to ten people, sometimes the old-fashioned raising of your physical hand may be the best option. But it’s up to the meeting host. Ask them what they would prefer, and follow that.

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13. Don’t Record the Session or Take Photos Without Prior Permission

In this case, not sharing is caring. The “sharing culture” made popular through social media has little place in video conferencing. Before recording a meeting or capturing a screenshot of the participants, always ask for consent in advance from the full roster of attendees. Knowing that a video conference will be photographed or recorded could have a bearing on what others are willing to discuss.

Manage Yourself

14. Minimize Distractions

While de-activating audio and video features can keep distractions from affecting the other participants, you will need to manage noise and disruptions on your end to give your full attention to the meeting.

Move out of high-traffic zones in your home, keep your door closed, and ask family members to be considerate.

15. Save Snacking for Later

Save snacking for later—or earlier. Eating while on video conference is a no-no. Munching in front of the group while close to the camera—as you are when video conferencing—subjects the participants to an up-close and (too) personal view of your food consumption process.

However, it’s perfectly fine to sip quietly from a glass of water or cup of coffee or tea. If the meeting threatens to last for more than two hours, you may want to ask the host in advance to schedule a five-minute break at the halfway point.

Final Thoughts

Even though bosses are now beginning to ask workers to spend some of their workdays on-site, up to 80 percent will permit employees to work remotely at least part of the time, which means more video conferencing in your future.[3] Mastering these video conferencing etiquette tips will help you dial in—as well as dial back—your participation and demonstrate your unwavering level of engagement to the team.

Featured photo credit: Chris Montgomery via unsplash.com

Reference

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