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How to Start a Successful Business and Increase Your Profits

How to Start a Successful Business and Increase Your Profits
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It’s Sunday evening and you’re not looking forward to the start of the week. You’re not a pessimist but you can help to feel a sinking notion in your stomach–it’s the feeling of torture of another work week. You’ll attend boring meetings, dispute unimportant ideas, and desperately stare at the clock–hoping to see 5:00 pm.

You’ve dreamed of starting a successful business but you didn’t feel capable. After all, you’re not a computer nerd or have any business experience. So, you’ve kept your head down and crossed this dream of your list.

But, what if you were wrong? What if there was a better way to start a business? Not only that but you’d generate a higher income than your current job.

The good news is that it’s possible, but you need to change your approach. I’ve also been in this dark place–not believing I was worthy of building a successful business. But after 3 years of experimenting, I’m finally seeing some success.

I’ve made countless mistakes and learned which strategies work from other successful entrepreneurs. My hope is that you avoid the long road I took and to learn from my mistakes. More importantly, adopt proven strategies from other successful entrepreneurs and avoid wasting time.

Here’s how to start a successful business–one that you’ll be proud of:

1. Build your business around your lifestyle

“If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail!” – Benjamin Franklin

Don’t fantasize about starting a business so much that you forget why you’d wanted to start one. Sure, you want the freedom to choose which types of projects you’ll work on–but don’t create another job for yourself.

Take for example an entrepreneur who decides to start their own pie business. This person commits and quits her job to work on her business. After a few months, she’s earning a sustainable income. The only problem is that she’s no busier than ever.

She works 60 to 80 hours each week and doesn’t know how long she’ll be able to sustain her business. This is the case for many entrepreneurs who fail to plan. Before brainstorming business ideas, decide why you want to become an entrepreneur.

Do you want to spend more times with your family? Or travel the world? Whatever your reason, be clear on why you’re starting your business.

Once you know your reason, start building your business around your desired lifestyle, not the other way around.

2. Don’t wait for all the green lights to pick your business idea

You’re clear on why you’re starting your business, now what?

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Decide what type of business you want to create. Some examples include opening a restaurant or selling online products and services. Brainstorm a few business niches you’d like to explore (i.e. health, finance, and fashion.)

A few years ago, I was clueless about which business idea to choose. After stumbling upon blogging, I failed miserably along the way. My biggest mistake was spending months designing my blog.

The truth is building a blog is one of the most important things you can create for any business. It allows you to deepen the relationship with your customers by providing value. But it’s also time-consuming, making you prone to waste time as I did.

Instead, skip creating a blog and provide valuable content on an existing platform. This will help you determine if your business idea is something you’d like to pursue long-term while getting audience feedback. The best platform to do this is Medium for written content.

But if you love to speak, start a Podcast. You also have the option to create your own Youtube channel if you enjoy being on camera. Your goal is to produce quality content as soon as possible.

Jot down a few ideas and narrow your list down to 1 to 3, then focus on producing quality content. Once you’re confident about your idea, brainstorm how you’ll monetize it.

3. You don’t need business experience to get started

The best part about building a business is that the market doesn’t care about your experience.

If you can solve a problem, the market doesn’t care about a college degree or your business experience. Many entrepreneurs have built successful businesses without the help of their degree.

For example, Richard Branson quit school at age 16. Today he’s the founder of the Virgin group and worth billions. Bill Gates received his degree from Harvard 30+ after dropping out.

I share these examples to show that a college degree doesn’t make or break a successful business.

Instead, start a business on a niche that interests you the most.[1] Chances are that you’ll have some knowledge in this area. Eventually, you’ll become an expert on the topic you choose.

4. Don’t invest any money in legal

Investing money in your business is great only if you’re investing in the right areas.

An issue many entrepreneurs face early on their journey is spending money on legal fees. For example, when they have an idea they start registering their business or pay for patents. This may have been the route a while back, but it no longer is the case.

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Unless you’re creating medicine, there’s no need to spend any money on legal fees. Here’s why many times you’ll change your mind about an idea. You might discover that the type of business you’ve created isn’t one that you enjoy working in.

Wait until you’ve built a proven idea that you enjoy working in before you consider legal fees.

5. You don’t need to invest a fortune to start a successful business

A few decades ago, starting a business was an option only for those with enough money–this isn’t the case anymore.

The internet has removed most barriers, creating low entry business costs. For example, you don’t need to waste money on paying rent if your business is online based. You also have the opportunity to create profitable products (courses, and books) at a low cost.

You can build a website for less than $100 or spend a few hundred hiring a professional developer. Gary Vaynerchuk says that these are some of the best years to start an online business. Not only do you have low business costs, but you’re now able to reach more customers.

How?

By using Facebook Ads to target your customers at a low cost. The internet is making it easier to do business for online and offline businesses. Get practical and spend only on what’s necessary for your business.

6. Surround yourself with all types of people

“You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.”

If you’re an entrepreneur, you should only be around other entrepreneurs, right?

Wrong.

Entrepreneurship is a long and lonely journey. The truth is you’ll benefit being around other entrepreneurs and learning from others.

For example, your friends and family can potentially be your customers. Use this knowledge to test your product or create new features. Be willing to learn from everyone but also be careful with who you spend most of your time with.

Take my case, for example, when I was in high school, I began hanging around the wrong crowd. Being a good student, I didn’t imagine this would have any effect on me. Eventually, my grades dropped and I began caring less about school.

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As an entrepreneur, similar instances can happen to you. Surround yourself with supportive people who’ll help you in your lowest points. Spend less time with those who don’t believe in your goals.

7. Learn more about other things besides business

It’s not uncommon for entrepreneurs to read.

Bill Gates claims to read 50 books per year, and Warren Buffet recommends reading 500 pages per day. So you should only read business books, right? Yes and no.

Business books will teach you more about running a business effectively but these shouldn’t be the only types of books you read. You’ll limit your growth in other important areas for your business.

For example, human psychology is important to better understand how your customers think. Reading fiction can spark creativity for you to innovate in your business. The truth is expanding the type of books you read will only benefit you.

Mix it up by creating a reading list in a variety of categories. Also, join book clubs to become inspired to read different types of books with others.

8. You don’t need to wait 10 years to see profits

It’s true, building a successful business takes time. But this doesn’t need to take 10 years.

To be clear, there are no shortcuts to building a successful business. But you can save time by avoiding common mistakes. The best way is by learning from entrepreneurs who’ve built successful businesses.

Listen to their podcast, buy their products, and stalk them on social media (not in a creepy way.) Master being a student and you’ll spot patterns that contribute to their success.

If you have extra money available, hire a business coach. Your other options are joining masterminds or business groups. It’ll be easier to succeed when you have a strong support system. One that challenges you to grow and helps you avoid common mistakes.

9. Focus on value instead of money

“Serve a million people—and serve them incredibly well—and the money will follow.” – Dharmesh Shah

Focusing only on making money can be toxic.

Many people have ended their life after losing their entire wealth. This doesn’t mean that wanting to build large wealth is bad; but putting money on a pedestal is. Instead, focus on a higher purpose.

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When you focus on giving more, you’re more likely to build more wealth.

Gary Vaynerchuk shared a story of a time when he delivered a low-end wine to one of his customers during a snowstorm. He didn’t expect anything, but this customer’s wealthy son later placed a large order with Gary.

This doesn’t mean that you should give for the sake of receiving something. Give out of the intent to help others and experience the positive benefits. Studies have shown that people who give money away experience happier moods.[2]

Focus on increasing profits for your business but remember to have a higher purpose.

10. Be fulfilled running a profitable business

Entrepreneurship is a lonely journey. It’s a journey where you’ll fail dozens of times. But if you want to live your dream life and impact other people’s lives, it’s a journey you’ll need to take. Imagine not dreading Monday’s anymore, every day’s a Friday.

You still have challenging days but you’re now more in control of your life. Although your income is increasing, that’s no longer your motive. You’re motivated by the positive impact you’re making to other people’s lives.

You’d started this journey wanting to build a successful business. Now you’re looking for more ways to impact people’s lives. To others, you look the same, but you know you’re a better person than before.

Wouldn’t this be amazing?

Final thoughts

Stop letting your fear take over and begin taking action towards your dream lifestyle. You now have a mini-blueprint on how to get started.

Don’t waste time fumbling on bad ideas, building unnecessary websites, and learning alone. Instead, surround yourself around amazing people and invest in you’re personal growth.

It took me years to learn from my mistakes. It doesn’t have to be the same for you. Your business idea is waiting–will you have the courage to pursue it?

Featured photo credit: Tim Mossholder via unsplash.com

Reference

More by this author

Christopher Alarcon

Finance Analyst and Founder of the Financially Well Off Blog & Podcast

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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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