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12 Foolproof Tips for Entrepreneurs to Be Successful in a New Venture

12 Foolproof Tips for Entrepreneurs to Be Successful in a New Venture

Beginning a new startup or business venture as a first-time entrepreneur can be a daunting affair. You’re more than likely tight on cash, unsure of whether your next planned steps are right and there’s nobody to tell you what to do.

So as the co-founder and creative lead of a strategic presentation company, I’ll share with you 12 foolproof tips for entrepreneurs to be successful in a new venture:

1. Don’t Spend Unnecessarily

First-time entrepreneurs have a tendency to splurge on a new venture. It might be the early jitters of starting a business for the first time, or just plain inexperience. But making frivolous purchases can kill your business before it has even begun to take off.

For example, it’s difficult to make a case for spending a couple hundred dollars on premium stock name cards, paying thousands to shoot a video production about your business or shelling out excessive rent for a swanky office. When in doubt, ask yourself if the spend is going to directly impact the success of your business or whether it’s purely for egotistical reasons.

It could just be the case that certain kinds of spending will reap more pronounced results when your business is more mature.

2. Validate Before Going to Full-On Production

If you’re in the business of developing software or designing hardware products, you’ll want to make sure that you validate the demand and fit of the product to the market you’re selling to as soon as possible. This is more popularly known as finding ‘Product-Market-Fit’.

Kickstarter Is a great example of how companies can get pre-orders and buy-in from their customers even before their products are made. They use marketing videos to show previews of their products to get early sales before they’ve even gone into mass-manufacturing. Founders end up saving hefty upfront costs of production and avoid building something that nobody wants.

If you’re not using Kickstarter, there are other ways you can validate your idea as well. Consider interviewing a few prospective customers and conducting research on how other competitor products became successful.

3. Start Marketing from the Start

A big problem with new ventures is that founders can spend months working on their product, but only spend a small portion of the time at the end promoting it. More often than not, they’ll either end up in a situation where they’ve built something that nobody wants, or find that the much-anticipated launch of their product falls flat because they don’t have anyone to sell it to.

Marketing early, even before your product is a 100% ready can provide useful feedback from potential customers that can enhance the success of your business in the mid-term. At the same time, when you do eventually begin selling your services or products, you’ll already have access to a captive audience to sell to.

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Start collecting leads and engaging with your customer communities early to ensure that you have a ready, hungry crowd to sell to.

4. Always Negotiate

The popular adage: ‘You get what you negotiate’ rings true especially in business. There is no limit or line in the sand that restricts business owners from negotiating better deals for themselves. You’ll also find that the first offer presented to you is never the absolute best offer available.

Distance yourself from the mindset that asking for a discount or a better deal is being ‘cheap’ or ‘disrespectful’. In some instances, when negotiators use techniques like low-balling, it can be taken too far.

Approach any negotiation with a mindset of finding a win-win for both parties where you already have a position or desire before you enter the negotiation.

These tips on how to negotiate in difficult situations and get what you want will be helpful.

5. Get Online Immediately

‘If you aren’t online, you don’t exist’ – This is especially true in today’s age where more than 4 billion are using the internet.

Without a web presence, you’re missing out on a powerful traffic driver to your business.

Start Your Own Website

Starting your own website doesn’t have to cost thousands or take months. Using platforms like SquareSpace, Wix and content management systems like WordPress, you can very quickly get setup with a web presence for your business or even a personal website to provide information and collect leads.

Claim Your Googlemybusiness Listing

Google is the largest search engine in the world and it’s the first place where most customers will search for your business. Claiming your free listing ensures that your customers can locate your business and get accurate information like reviews and operating hours.

It’s becoming a lot more important for food and beverage outlets to get noticed and is referred to more than Yelp for reviews.

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Drive Traffic to Your Website

Driving traffic to your startup business website is imperative to ensure you have a continuous flow of enquiries and clients.

Using paid advertising like Facebook Ads or Google Adwords and organic marketing techniques like content marketing on your own blog, you can potentially acquire new customers at very reasonable rates.

You’ll even have the potential to automate some of these processes which you might not have been able to do with traditional advertising and marketing efforts.

6. Pitch for Press

Getting noticed by the general public should be one of the eventual priorities for new businesses. Press coverage by mainstream media can potentially send hordes of customers your way. Here are a few ways you can get press coverage for your business:

Pitch Directly to Journalists

Concoct your story angle, prepare a press release and email it in a brief pitch to the journalist covering the beat of your choice.

Using platforms like HARO, you can also provide comment for journalists looking for interviewees.

Start by Guest-Posting

There are many blogs that accept guest author contributions to their publications. Using one of these as a stepping stone to get traffic and coverage is a great way to get free placement by taking the initiative.

Search up for blogs in your industry that accept these by searching terms like: “write for us (your industry) blogs”.

Hire a PR Specialist

You can increase your chance of coverage by hiring a professional.

Look for a freelancer that has had experience getting coverage for companies in your industry. The rates available will be a lot more affordable versus hiring an agency and you’ll still be able to get decent results for your investment.

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7. Calculate Your Breakeven Point

Unless you run a pure service company, there’s very likely to be some upfront cost to start your business. These could be the cost of producing your goods, the development costs of your software.

To have a good handle of your finances, you’ll need to calculate your breakeven point.[1] This is just basically the point where your business revenue covers all your expenses and has become profitable.

Knowing this can help you project your finances and costs ahead of time to determine if the business’s pricing and costs are viable or not to avoid a rude fiscal awakening later on.

8. Set Future Goals

Many new business owners get into business with ecstatic enthusiasm only to see their motivation fizzle out after a number of years.

Planning ahead for the business by setting financial and business goals is crucial to continue growing as well as maintain healthy profitability.

There will be moments where entrepreneurs get ‘comfortable’ with their situations and forget that they are running a growing organisation. Avoid this instance by staying on your toes and looking towards your vision for the business in the future.

9. Learn To Sell

For newbies in business, one of the most difficult obstacles to get past is the fear of selling. Sometimes, it’s handling difficult questions,[2]
others it’s about believing enough in your own business to sell it to someone else.

When making any interpersonal sales, always approach it from a standpoint of being a ‘facilitator’ to the sale rather than trying to force it down the person’s throat:

  • Ask questions to determine what they need
  • Repeat the questions in summarised form to ensure you’ve gotten it right
  • Propose solutions that your business can offer that match the needs
  • Ask for the sale and propose next steps

It always helps to consistently keep educated on sales techniques and try them out for yourself with different customers to see what works.

10. Collaborate with Other Businesses

As a small business, the odds are against you succeeding. Many other small businesses face a similar predicament and collaborating with ones that have a similar customer demographic can prove to be a lucrative arrangement for both parties.

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For example, consistently getting new leads and customers can be a stressful and time-consuming activity for businesses that run on lean teams. A great way to ease this burden is to cross-refer business with other collaborators that may have similar customers but don’t directly compete in the same space.

That way, both businesses keep the pipeline full and build on a healthy alliance. There are many other ways for businesses to collaborate besides cross-referring business for a kickback or commission. Businesses can also work out package rates for services that both businesses provide together to the same clients.

11. Operationalize Your Business

As a startup business owner, your goal should always be to work ‘on the business’ and not ‘in the business’. Otherwise, you’ve only just invented a job for yourself. Entrepreneurs need to build organizations that can run independently of the founders.

A way to get closer to that reality is to develop Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) to ensure that staff and systems can run without supervision.

Begin breaking up your business into various functions and developing step-by-step instructions and considerations for each role. Eventually, you’ll end up with SOPs for every function and role to be delegated to other staff that work in the organisation.

If done correctly, you should see massive savings In your time to focus on growing the business rather than just getting bogged down by the day-to-day.

12. Test and Experiment with New Ways To Do Business

There are tested and proven ways to get new customers and run businesses in various industries. However, the best methods aren’t always mainstream or well-known. Sometimes the best ways haven’t been discovered yet.

These can be in the form of new technologies that have recently become available for mass adoption, or simply creative ways to conduct marketing activities.

Are there systems that can be improved with automation in your industry? Are there untapped niches that can potentially be wildly profitable that others have yet to explore?

Once you’ve dominated your current line of business, consider expanding into new areas. The business world is ever-evolving and changing, the only way to really stay ahead is to endeavour to innovate and disrupt first.

Featured photo credit: Austin Distel 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.

10 Most Successful Entrepreneurs (And What to Learn from Them) How to Succeed in Business: 10 Skills Every Entrepreneur Needs Why Leadership and Management Are Two Sides of a Coin 12 Foolproof Tips for Entrepreneurs to Be Successful in a New Venture How to Be a Successful Entrepreneur (15 Powerful Actions to Take Today)

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Last Updated on April 9, 2020

5 Types of Leadership Styles (And Which Is Best for You)

5 Types of Leadership Styles (And Which Is Best for You)

It takes great leadership skills to build great teams.

The best leaders have distinctive leadership styles and are not afraid to make the difficult decisions. They course-correct when mistakes happen, manage the egos of team members and set performance standards that are constantly being met and improved upon.

With a population of more than 327 million, there are literally scores of leadership styles in the world today. In this article, I will talk about the most common types of leadership and how you can determine which works best for you.

5 Types of Leadership Styles

I will focus on 5 common styles that I’ve encountered in my career: democratic, autocratic, transformational, transactional and laissez-faire leadership.

The Democratic Style

The democratic style seeks collaboration and consensus. Team members are a part of decision-making processes and communication flows up, down and across the organizational chart.

The democratic style is collaborative. Author and motivational speaker Simon Sinek is an example of a leader who appears to have a democratic leadership style.

    The Autocratic Style

    The autocratic style, on the other hand, centers the preferences, comfort and direction of the organization’s leader. In many instances, the leader makes decisions without soliciting agreement or input from their team.

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    The autocratic style is not appropriate in all situations at all times, but it can be especially useful in certain careers, such as military service, and in certain instances, such as times of crisis. Steve Jobs was said to have had an autocratic leadership style.

    While the democratic style seeks consensus, the autocratic style is less interested in consensus and more interested in adherence to orders. The latter advises what needs to be done and expects close adherence to orders.

      The Transformational Style

      Transformational leaders drive change. They are either brought into organizations to turn things around, restore profitability or improve the culture.

      Alternatively, transformational leaders may have a vision for what customers, stakeholders or constituents may need in the future and work to achieve those goals. They are change agents who are focused on the future.

      Examples of transformational leader are Oprah and Robert C. Smith, the billionaire hedge fund manager who has offered to pay off the student loan debt of the entire 2019 graduating class of Morehouse College.

        The Transactional Style

        Transactional leaders further the immediate agenda. They are concerned about accomplishing a task and doing what they’ve said they’d do. They are less interested in changing the status quo and more focused on ensuring that people do the specific task they have been hired to do.

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        The transactional leadership style is centered on short-term planning. This style can stifle creativity and keep employees stuck in their present roles.

        The Laissez-Faire Style

        The fifth common leadership style is laissez-faire, where team members are invited to help lead the organization.

        In companies with a laissez-faire leadership style, the management structure tends to be flat, meaning it lacks hierarchy. With laissez-faire leadership, team members might wonder who the final decision maker is or can complain about a lack of leadership, which can translate to lack of direction.

        Which Leadership Style do You Practice?

        You can learn a lot about your leadership style by observing your family of origin and your formative working experiences.

        Whether you realize it, from the time you were born up until the time you went to school, you were receiving information on how to lead yourself and others. From the way your parents and siblings interacted with one another, to unspoken and spoken communication norms, you were a sponge for learning what constitutes leadership.

        The same is true of our formative work experiences. When I started my communications career, I worked for a faith-based organization and then a labor union. The style of communication varied from one organization to the other. The leadership required to be successful in each organization was also miles apart. At Lutheran social services, we used language such as “supporting people in need.” At the labor union, we used language such as “supporting the leadership of workers” as they fought for what they needed.

        Many in the media were more than happy to accept my pitch calls when I worked for the faith-based organization, but the same was not true when I worked for a labor union. The quest for media attention that was fair and balanced became more difficult and my approach and style changed from being light-hearted to being more direct with the labor union.

        I didn’t realize the impact those experiences had on how I thought about my leadership until much later in my career.

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        In my early experience, it was not uncommon for team members to have direct, brash and tough conversations with one another as a matter of course. It was the norm, not the exception. I learned to challenge people, boldly state my desires and preferences, and give tough feedback, but I didn’t account for the actions of others fit for me, as a black woman. I didn’t account for gender biases and racial biases.

        What worked well for my white male bosses, did not work well for me as an African American woman. People experienced my directness as being rude and insensitive. While I needed to be more forceful in advancing the organization’s agenda when I worked for labor, that style did not bode well for faith-based social justice organizations who wanted to use the love of Christ to challenge injustice.

        Whereas I received feedback that I needed to develop more gravitas in the workplace when I worked for labor, when I worked for other organizations after the labor union, I was often told to dial it back. This taught me two important lessons about leadership:

        1. Context Matters

        Your leadership style must adjust to each workplace you are employed. The challenges and norms of an organization will shape your leadership style significantly.

        2. Not All Leadership Styles Are Appropriate for the Teams You’re Leading

        When I worked on political campaigns, we worked nonstop. We started at dawn and worked late into the evening. I couldn’t expect that level of round-the-clock work for people at the average nonprofit. Not only couldn’t I expect it, it was actually unhealthy. My habit of consistently waking up at 4 am to work was profoundly unhealthy for me and harmful for the teams I was leading.

        As life coach and spiritual healer Iyanla Vanzant has said,

        “We learn a lot from what is seen, sensed and shared.”

        The message I was sending to my team was ‘I will value you if you work the way that I work, and if you respond to my 4 am, 5 am and 6 am emails.’ I was essentially telling my employees that I expect you to follow my process and practice.

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        As I advanced in my career and began managing more people, I questioned everything I thought I knew about leadership. It was tough. What worked for me in one professional setting did not work in other settings. What worked at one phase of my life didn’t necessarily serve me at later stages.

        When I began managing millennials, I learned that while committed to the work, they had active interests and passions outside of the office. They were not willing to abandon their lives and happiness for the work, regardless of how fulfilling it might have been.

        The Way Forward

        To be an effective leader, you must know yourself incredibly well. You must be self-reflective and also receptive to feedback.

        As fellow Lifehack contributor Mike Bundrant wrote in the article 10 Essential Leadership Qualities That Make a Great Leader:

        “Those who lead must understand human nature, and they start by fully understanding themselves…They know their strengths, and are equally aware of their weaknesses and thus understand the need for team work and the sharing of responsibility.”

        The way to determine your leadership style is to get to know yourself and to be mindful of the feedback you receive from others. Think about the leadership lessons that were seen, sensed and shared in your family of origin. Then think about what feels right for you. Where do you gravitate and what do you tend to avoid in the context of leadership styles?

        If you are really stuck, think about using a personality assessment to shed light on your work patterns and preferences.

        Finally, the path for determining your leadership style is to think about not only what you need, or what your company values, but also what your team needs. They will give you cues on what works for them and you need to respond accordingly.

        Leadership requires flexibility and attentiveness. Contrary to unrealistic notions of leadership, being a leader is less about being served and more about being of service.

        More Leadership Tips

        Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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