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Published on November 6, 2018

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

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Christopher Alarcon

Content Marketer and Finance Analyst

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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

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