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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)

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

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Eugene Cheng

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

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Last Updated on January 21, 2020

How to Increase Work Productivity: 9 Ground Rules

How to Increase Work Productivity: 9 Ground Rules

We all have those days when completing our assigned tasks seems beyond reach. With the temptation of social media, mobile games, and the internet in general—not to mention the constant bustle of people in the office—it’s easy to fall prey to disruptions and distractions at work.

So, what can we do about it? How to be productive at work?

While we don’t have a foolproof system that can completely eliminate disturbances and diversions, we do have 9 ground rules that can be applied to help give your productivity levels a boost.

Keep reading to find out our tips on work productivity.

What Does It Mean to Be Productive?

How to be productive at work?” is the age-old question plaguing employees and employers alike around the world. Regardless of where you work and what you do, everyone is always looking for new ways to be more efficient and effective.

But what does being productive actually entail?

Completing more tasks on your list or working longer hours doesn’t necessarily mean you’re being more productive. It just means you’re more busy, and productivity shouldn’t be confused with busyness.

Productivity means achieving effective results in as short amount of time as possible, leaving you with more time to enjoy freely.

It involves working smarter, not harder. It means refining processes, speeding up workflows, and reducing the chances of interruptions.

Productivity is best achieved when looking at your current way of working, identifying the bottlenecks, flaws, and hindrances, and then finding ways to improve.

9 Ground Rules on How to Be Productive at Work

1. Avoid Multitasking

Multitasking can give the impression that more tasks can be accomplished as you’re doing multiple things at once. However, the opposite is true.

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Research has shown that attempting to do several things at the same time takes a toll on productivity and that shifting between tasks can cost up to 40 percent of someone’s time.[1] That’s because your focus and concentration is constantly hindered due to having to switch between tasks.

If you have a lot of tasks on your plate, determine your priorities and allocate enough time for each task. That way you can work on what’s urgent first and have enough time to complete the rest of your tasks.

2. Turn off Notifications

According to a Gallup poll, more than 50 percent of US smartphone owners admit to checking their phones a few times an hour.[2]

Switching off your phone—or at least your notifications—during work hours is a good way to prevent you from checking your phone all the time.

The same applies to your computer. If you have the privilege of accessing social media on your work desktop, switch off the notifications on there.

Another good tip is to logout from your social media accounts. Therefore when you feel the urge to check it, you might be swayed because your page isn’t so easily accessible.

3. Manage Interruptions

There are certain disruptions in the office that are unavoidable such as your manager requesting a quick meeting or your colleague asking for assistance. In order to deal with this, your best approach is to know how to handle interruptions like a pro.

Be proactive and inform the people around you of your need to focus. Turn your status on as “busy/unavailable” on your work chat app.

If you’re on a deadline, let your colleagues know that you need to concentrate and would really appreciate not being interrupted for the moment, or even work from home if that’s a feasible option for you.

By anticipating and having a plan in place to manage them, this will minimize your chances of being affected by interruptions.

4. Eat the Frog

Mark Twain once famously said that:

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“if it’s your job to eat a frog, it’s best to do it first thing in the morning. And if it’s your job to eat two frogs, it’s best to eat the biggest one first.”

What this basically means is that you should get your biggest, most urgent task out of the way first.

We all have that big, important task that we don’t want to do but know we have to do because it holds the biggest consequence if we don’t complete it.

Eat the frog is a productivity technique that encourages you to do your most important, most undesirable task first. Completing this particular task before anything else will give you a huge sense of accomplishment. It will set the ball rolling for the rest of the day and motivate you to eagerly complete your other tasks.

5. Cut Down on Meetings

Meetings can use up a lot of time, which is time that can be used to do something useful.

You have to wait for everyone to arrive, then after the pleasantries are out of the way, you can finally get stuck into it. And sometimes, it may take a whole hour to iron out one single issue.

The alternative? Don’t arrange a meeting at all. You’ll be surprised at how many things can be resolved through an email or a quick phone call.

But that doesn’t mean you should eliminate meetings altogether. There are certain circumstances where face-to-face discussions and negotiations are still necessary. Just make sure you weigh up the options prior.

If it’s just information sharing, you’re probably better off sending an email; but if brainstorming or in-depth discussion is required, then an in-person meeting would be best.

6. Utilize Tools

Having the right tools to work with is crucial as you’re only really as good as the resources you have at your disposal. Not only will you be able to complete tasks as efficiently as possible, but they can streamline processes. Said processes are essential to a business as they manage tasks, keep employees connected, and hold important data.

If you’re the manager or business owner, ensure your team has the right tools in place.

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And if you’re an employee and think the tools you currently have to work with aren’t quite up to par, let your manager know. A good team leader understands the significance of having the right tools and how it can impact employee productivity.

Some examples of tools that could be used:

Communication
  • Slack for team chat and collaboration.
  • Samepage for video conference software.
  • Zendesk for customer service engagement.
Task Management
  • Zenkit for task and project collaboration.
  • Wunderlist for listing your to-do’s.
  • Wekan for an open source option.
Database Management
Time Tracking
  • Clockify for a free tracker.
  • TMetric for workspace integrations.
  • TimeCamp for attendance and productivity monitoring.

You can also take a look at these Top 10 Productivity Tools to Help You Achieve 10x More in Less Time.

7. Declutter and Organize

Having a disorganized and cluttered workspace can limit your ability to focus. According to researchers, physical clutter can negatively impact your ability to concentrate and take in information.[3] Which is why keeping your work environment well ordered and clutter-free is important.

Ensure you have your own system of organization so you know what to do when the paperwork starts to pile up.

Being organized will also ensure that you know where to find the appropriate stationery, tools, or documents when you need it. A US study reveals that the average worker can waste up to one week a year looking for misplaced items.[4]

Here’s a useful guide to help you declutter and organize: How to Declutter Your Life and Reduce Stress (The Ultimate Guide)

8. Take Breaks

Taking regular breaks is essential for maintaining productivity at work. Working in front of a computer can lead to a sedentary lifestyle which can place you at a higher risk of heart disease, diabetes, and obesity. Even a 30 second microbreak can increase your productivity levels up to 30 percent.

As well as your physical health, breaks are also crucial for your mental and emotional wellbeing. That’s because your brain is like a muscle, the more it works without a break, the easier it is for it to get worn out.

Ensuring you actually take your breaks can prevent you from suffering from decision fatigue. It can also help boost creativity.

Take a look at this article and learn why you should start scheduling time for breaks: The Importance of Scheduling Downtime

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9. Drink Water

Although we know we should, it’s easy to forget to drink enough water during the working day.

Many of us turn to tea or coffee for the caffeine hit to keep us going. However, like taking breaks, drinking water is essential for maintaining productivity levels at work. It’s simple and effective.

Not drinking enough water can lead to dehydration and also headaches, tiredness, and weight gain.

A good tip to avoid dehydration is to keep a water bottle at your desk as it can serve as a reminder to constantly drink water.

If you find the taste of water a little bland, add some fruit such as cucumber or lemon to give it a better taste.

You can also get more ideas on how to drink more water here: How to Drink More Water (and Why You Should)

The Bottom Line

The preceding 9 ground rules on work productivity aren’t the be-all, end-all. You and the company you work for may have other tips on how productivity is best increased and maintained.

After all, it’s something that can be perceived differently depending on the exact job and work environment.

In saying that, however, the 9 ground rules serve as a good foundation for anyone finding themselves succumbing to disruption and distraction, and are looking for ways to overcome them.

A good tip to keep in mind is that change doesn’t happen overnight. Start small and be consistent. If you slip up, just dust yourself off and try again.

Developing habits happens gradually, so as long as you keep up with it, you’ll soon start to notice the changes you’ve been making and eventually enjoy the fruits of your labor.

More About Boosting Productivity

Featured photo credit: Cathryn Lavery via unsplash.com

Reference

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