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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
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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.

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Featured photo credit: Austin Distel 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.

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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