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How to Start a Successful Business and Increase Your Profits

How to Start a Successful Business and Increase Your Profits

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

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Christopher Alarcon

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

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Last Updated on November 19, 2019

Work Smarter, Not Harder: 12 Ways to Work Smart

Work Smarter, Not Harder: 12 Ways to Work Smart

I imagine that like me, you say that you never have enough time and that you just cannot cope with 60 dozen things all at once.

How on earth do you get out of that spiral?

Many people never sit down and look at how to work smarter, rather than harder and even longer hours. But not you, you’re smart enough to try to learn effective ways to work.

So how to work smarter not harder? Here are 12 smart ways you should be following:

1. Improve Your Time Management Skills

Easier said than done? Well, no actually, because there are a few simple rules that can really help you to manage time better.

For example, when setting up a top priority task, you need to switch off the phone and ignore your email first. Then you need to abandon any ideas of multitasking as that will slow you down and ruin your focus.

Finally, set a reasonable deadline and do everything in your power to meet it.

“When you’re born, you’re born with 30,000 days. That’s it. The best strategic planning I can give to you is to think about that.” — Sir Ray Avery

2. Speed up Your Typing and Use Shortcuts

These days we’re all keyboard slaves. So why not speed up your typing and try to get rid of the two finger syndrome. In fact, when you save 21 days per year just by typing fast!

This is exactly what I am doing now, so I cannot honestly say I am practicing what I preach!

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But help is at hand. Try some of these apps and games to help you type fast: 8 Most Effective Games and Apps to Learn to Type Fast

Using shortcuts on the keyboard is another time saver and can speed up your work.

For example, press F2 to rename a selected file, while CTRL + I will put selected text in italics.

There are so many of these. If you make the effort to learn them, they really can be helpful.

3. Learn How to Use Productivity Tools

It is well worth downloading all the useful tools and apps that can highly boost your productivity. Take a look at these 18 Best Time Management Apps and Tools and install whatever fits your needs.

Now that is really a great way of working smarter, not harder.

4. Use Your Phone Wisely

Instead of writing emails, sometimes it’s better to pick up the phone and talk to the person responsible. It saves time, especially for important or urgent discussions.

If that colleague works in the same office, it is even better to go and talk to him or her. It gives you a break, you get some exercise and you actually make human contact which is becoming quite rare in this electronic world.

5. Keep a Tab on Your Tabs

If you are like me, you might well find that you have a ton of tabs open at the top of your browser.

In order to find the one you want, you have to search for them as they are off screen. Having all these tabs open slows down your browser too.

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One solution is to use OneTab which can keep a neat list on the screen of all these tabs when you want to quickly get to one of them or you want to remind yourself which ones you have open.

6. Use a “To Don’t” List

We all know about to do lists and I find that they are generally great. They give me a great sense of achievement as I cross off the tasks done.

But often, I find that we are doing non-essential tasks or ones that can easily be postponed. That is why many people recommend the to don’t list.[1]

Some people prefer to savagely prune the to do list while others prefer to have two separate lists, to do and to don’t. You just have to work out what works best for you when you are trying to save precious time to become more productive.

7. Expect Failure and Fight Paranoia

When failure rears its ugly head, some people get a bit paranoid and fear that this may become a trend.

Projects will go wrong and failure should be expected rather than feared. Learning lessons from failure and analyzing what went wrong is the best way forward.

“Do not be embarrassed by your failures, learn from them and start again.” — Richard Branson

And here you can find 10 Great Lessons Highly Successful People Have Learned From Failure.

8. Be Concise

Rambling on at meetings, in emails and even when introducing yourself to new clients can waste a lot of people’s time.

One way is to practice and sharpen your “elevator speech,”[2] which tells people in 30 seconds or less why they need your skills and how they can benefit from doing business with you.

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Just think of the many situations where this could be useful:

  • Making new contacts
  • Talking about yourself at a job interview
  • Meeting people at conferences or parties
  • Phone calls to new clients

9. Ask the Right Questions

“You can tell whether a man is clever by his answers. You can tell whether a man is wise by his questions.” — Naguib Mahfouz

How do you get feedback? The secret is to ask the right questions at the right time.

When you do this, you are gathering the information you need to help in decision making. This will save you time and you will be able to cut meetings to a minimum.

Forbes magazine reports on research that they carried out on asking the right questions.[3] When that happens, the positive effects are increased by 400%. There are also other benefits in staff motivation and a positive impact on the company’s bottom line.

Lifehack’s CEO Leon has shared about how to ask for feedback to learn faster: How to Learn Quickly And Master Any Skill You Want

10. Learn as Much as You Can

You should always be on a steep learning curve. Look at your skills profile and determine where you need to fill a gap. Talk to important connections and network in your niche.

Keep up to date on trends and developments. It is a fact-changing world. When an opportunity arises, you will be the best equipped to seize it because you have never stopped learning. Just another way of working smarter.

“Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.” — Mahatma Gandhi

11. Look After Your Greatest Resource

No, your greatest resource is not time. It is YOU.

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If you do not get enough sleep, exercise and relaxation, you find that you become less and less productive. You begin to work longer and longer hours, which is the exact opposite of what you want.

What you should be doing is making sure you are in the best shape. It is useful to remember that you need a break of 15 minutes after every one and a half hours of work.[4]

Taking breaks and getting fresh air and exercise is one of the best ways of working smarter, not harder.

12. Don’t Fall into the Trap of Working Smarter and Harder

As a society, we are obsessed with doing everything smarter so we are more efficient and we save time all around.[5]

But the most important thing to remember is to accept when we are ready to switch off that computer and not fill up the time with even more work!

The Bottom Line

The key to greater productivity is to work smarter, not harder. Working smarter saves precious time and energy for the things that really matter — your life goals, your personal growth, your health and your relationships.

Stop working for more hours and start working smarter!

More About Working Smart

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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