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Published on November 5, 2018

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

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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 14, 2019

The Key to Finding Job Satisfaction and Having a Successful Career

The Key to Finding Job Satisfaction and Having a Successful Career

Regardless of whether you hold an entry-level administration role or regularly travel to the ends of the Earth as a hot-shot senior executive, you can still find yourself harboring an emptiness… a feeling that something is missing. A popular assumption that experiencing job satisfaction and a successful career should be underpinned by a well-rounded suite of tangible benefits, no longer holds true for many of us.

We’d never deny health care benefits, appropriate and fair remuneration, bonuses and travel perks in a job package. However, even if served to us on a silver platter, those features can only satiate us to a certain point.

You might wonder what governs entrepreneurs and start-up business owners to quit their lucrative jobs, essentially look the gift horse in the mouth and kiss such benefits goodbye! There can be an irresistible pull to mastermind a business with products and/or services that serve the greater good of community wider than that constituting their daily existence.

Even with research showing entrepreneurship to pose greater threats to their mental and physical health, this unique breed of individuals choose to go against the grain in chasing their dreams of being their own boss. Why? Why would anyone risk this type of career suicide?

Whether you’re an employee, have recently taken the leap to being a business owner or been in business for a while, the commonality is a congenital condition we all share as human beings; to feel a sense of purpose, value and contribution to our community. Despite it being harder to find this for ourselves in today’s world, these approaches will help you achieve ultimate satisfaction through the twists, turns and joyrides that are essential features of shaping a successful career.

1. Search for Opportunities That Feed Your Passion, Not Temporary Excitement

Even though well-intended, the ‘feel good now’ compass that career coaches and consultants often recommend you use to create career satisfaction can actually do you more harm than good. Excitement is transient. It doesn’t last. Passion is the compass you need.

Passion and excitement are two different things. The resounding career legacy that still draws you to turn up on the job regardless of the sunshine or storm that awaits you…that’s passion. It’s like a mental and/or emotional itch you can’t shrug off. Staying attuned to that calling will breed success for you sooner or later. Patience is key.

You’re also likely to have more than one key passion. Beware of getting caught in the notion you have to find your one true purpose. In fact, run immediately from any coach who tells you there is only one. There isn’t.

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Your passion is a journey that can take multiple forms so forget thinking there is the single dream job out there that will give you satisfaction in every way you can imagine. It simply doesn’t exist.

Consider embracing different roles and projects to help you fuel your passion or fuel your pursuits in finding it. Job satisfaction and your career success will be all the more sweeter from a wider range of enriching experiences.

2. Don’t Position Job and Career Satisfaction Assessments as Pivotal Guides to Your Success

Despite their popular use for vocational guidance, assessment tools such as Gallup’s Clifton Strengths and the Myers Briggs Type Indicator have come under fire[1] as being limited to the amount of true value and direction they can offer partakers.[2] These and many other guidance assessment tools (e.g. VIA Character Strengths , DISC ) are self-report questionnaires that don’t have normative population data against which to compare your results.

Simply remember these tools help you develop a stronger sense of what you identify as strengths and weaknesses within yourself, not in comparison with other people. They will still add insight around what sorts of career opportunities, tasks and projects are going to light your fire, what ones are going to extinguish it and what will prod and keep the coals steadily smoldering.

3. Be Clear on Your Personal Values, Ethics and Principles and Choose Relationships That Support You Honoring Them

Teamwork, collaboration, open communication and trust are commonplace for any flourishing work environment. However, whether or not your personal values can be honored in your work can make or break your job satisfaction.

How committed do you want to be to an organization that expects an average of 10 unpaid overtime hours every week under the guise of ‘reasonable overtime’? Are you willing to accept their construing this expectation as ‘strong commitment’ at the expense of your partner and children waiting at home for you? What are your boundaries concerning when you clock on to their time and when you clock off to yours?

Being very in tune with what your personal values, principles and ethics are will bid you well in the job satisfaction stakes. Spending time to reflect on experiences and working relationships you’ve had – the good, the bad and the ugly – will help you make well-informed searches and grounded decisions that will propel your career success.

Finding and nurturing relationships with associates and colleagues who share similar values doesn’t just make your day-to-day pursuits more enjoyable. You become fortunate to work with like-minded people who will support, understand and appreciate you like a second family.

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Being able to honor your personal values in your work means you will still be able to sleep at night when you have to tread where others fear to, and make extremely difficult decisions others would never ever dream of having to make as you forge success in your career.

4. Be Clear on Your Own Definition of What Having a Successful Career Means for You

It’s tempting to get caught up in the ideals and projections of success expressed by those we love, admire and respect. Underneath, we all want on some level to belong to a successful club of some sort.

With research reporting how much money we feel we need to be truly happy,[3] many of us try to subscribe to the notion that having the car of our dreams or taking a European holiday annually will not bring us happiness. The truth, however, for many of us is these tangible rewards are congratulatory reminders of our persistent efforts to chase our career pursuits.

If those are things you aspire to, don’t let anyone steal your desire and want to feel deserving of these things, that those are some parameters by which you define your career success.

Despite consistently being the top revenue earner for two years running, you may not wish to become the sales manager. You may not wish to step out into running your own business even though you consistently excel as an employee, delighting clients and repeatedly receiving glowing testimonials.

Your definition of career success might be enjoying the predictability of a regular workplace routine. You get to leave – without feeling guilty – at the same time each day, love the people you work with and get to spend a good, uninterrupted amount of work-stress free quality time with your family. That picture is also blissful job satisfaction and complete career success.

5. Identify the Sorts of Challenges and Problems You Want to Learn to Overcome

Standard advice you might receive from a career coach might be to look for opportunities where you get to capitalize on exercising your strengths and career-related activities you enjoy.

However, to become a success at anything involves improvement. To excel at anything often involves stepping outside boundaries and comfort zones where others wouldn’t. This means dedicating focus and attention to things you’re not so good at and things you don’t like.

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Here’s where working with a coach can be particularly helpful. Map out the experiences that were unsavory in your working history. Were there challenges you opted out of, projects you failed at or toxic relationships that blasted your sense of purpose and self-worth into oblivion? It’s within these experiences that you might just find the most valuable lessons and guiding lights for your trajectory to achieve greater job satisfaction.

If your natural leadership style is to be a collaborator, finding opportunities that require you to apply a more dictatorial style might be needed. Discussing a secondment or short-term project where you get to develop and test your skills can be a step further in earning contention to lead a larger project down the track.

With several of the company’s boldest personality types penciled to roll out the operation, you’ll not only develop skills that earn your right to throw your hat in the ring; those key players have an opportunity to see your competence. You can then work on building relationships with those stakeholders before you need to hit the ground running should you win the lead.

Greater job satisfaction comes with planning and choosing the lessons and opportunities you want to learn, not desperately flailing, floundering and hoping for the best.

6. Keep Reviewing Your Goal Posts and Be Amenable to Change

The word ‘career’ is indicative of a longer-term pathway of change, growth and development. The journey is dynamic.

You will accumulate new skills and let those you no longer need, become rusty. Your intrigue will be stimulated by new experiences, knowledge and people you meet. Your thinking will continue to expand, not shrink. As a result, your goalposts are likely to change.

A major part of enjoying a successful career is not just setting goals effectively, but regularly reviewing and readjusting them where necessary. However, moving the posts or the target still needs to take place by applying the same processes by which you originally created them. The strength of your emotional connection to those revised goals needs to be the same, if not stronger.

By asking yourself the following questions, you can assure your developmental and growth trajectory is still on course:

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  • Would working toward these goals still allow me to honor my personal values, principles and ethics at the same capacity if not greater?
  • Do the activities I need to undertake to meet these goals honor my highest priorities?
  • Does this feel right for me and those who are nearest and dearest to me?
  • Is this aligned with my passion?
  • Is chasing this goal a right step for me to take now or is this a detour or distraction which could delay my greater plan?

Each of your career goals should have different review periods. Whatever you do, stick to the review schedule you set. It will not only keep you focused but help you see your progress (or lack thereof) and allow you to timely re-chart your course before you get too far down the track. You don’t want to waste time haphazardly heading in the wrong direction.

7. Be Prepared to Let Go

It can be unfathomable to us as to why others risk leaping into the unknown when everything truly appears fine and dandy in the career realm. The company provided stability, recognition, financial success, interesting projects and the promise of a promotion…what was wrong? Why now jump sideways to run a café or train in another field altogether?

Nothing may have been wrong at all. It was all going right. It was just the end of a chapter. Perhaps the yearning for the next step is actually taking a different trajectory entirely. You may want to simply experience a different rhythm. Perhaps it’s time to pursue a different passion.

If you have leaped from employee-land to freelancing or have made the reverse-jump (or you know someone who has), you will have quickly grown a different appreciation for pros and cons each work lifestyle brings. Working for yourself can bring the greater realization of your creativity, whether or not it can be monetized to earn you a living.

When your customers are buying you or a product you designed and fashioned, there is a direct level of appreciation and gratitude that can elevate your confidence in the way you have never experienced as an employee, regardless of your rank.

Similarly, there are times where we need to recognize our business ventures were adventures, not long-term life-changing empires. There are times we need to recognize that time is what provides the clearest limitation of how long we persist for in such pursuits.

We have to recognize the absence of enough financial, mental, emotional and physical breadcrumbs that tells us we’re no longer meant to push in that direction. At least, not for the present time.

The Bottom Line

Above all, keep the momentum. As long as you remain committed to pursuing work opportunities that allow you to honor your highest priorities, the truth of who you are and what you stand for, achieving ultimate job satisfaction and a successful career will never be too far away.

More Resources to Help Advance Your Career

Featured photo credit: Csaba Balazs via unsplash.com

Reference

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