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How to Learn Business as an Aspiring Entrepreneur

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How to Learn Business as an Aspiring Entrepreneur

It’s no surprise that many people fantasize about a life where they are their own boss. Being an entrepreneur means living independently without the need to follow orders. Furthermore, entrepreneurship may lead to flexible work hours with no limit on your income and owning your own business empire.

However, building a business from the ground up is no easy feat. Only 40% of small businesses are profitable, while the other 60% either break even or lose money continuously.[1]

So how exactly does one master business in this harsh economy? Though there is no fixed formula, but here are some tips on learning how to help you learn business and get started as an entrepreneur.

1. Start Small

Starting small is underrated. Most aspiring entrepreneurs try to hit the ground running immediately, before even learning the basics and pitfalls to avoid. My advice is to take things slowly in the beginning and start small. Going big from day one isn’t always the best approach.

My partner and I just got on Forbes 30 Under 30 Asia’s list of honorees[2]. However, we most definitely did not get there in a day. It took us 7 years to really get the hang of how to run our business, and it’s not something we were able to do from day one.

The first presentation I ever did was for a cheesecake shop in the United Kingdom for a few hundred dollars. It was not much, but it gave me the confidence to do bigger things and a happy customer is always good to have at the beginning.

Start off by trying to sell cheaper goods or services like selling old clothing pieces you no longer need online or offering graphic design services. These activities may seem trivial, but the opportunities they teach you cost management, basic marketing and how to deliver real value to your consumers (and dealing with challenges along the way)

Trying to fast-track your progress and by diving in immediately could lead to a rude awakening, potentially even business failure. 7 out of 10 small businesses are impacted by business failure , and statistics show they end up failing before their 10-year mark. Be it due to poor expense control or a lack of a proper business system, business failure can be minimized once you master the basics early.

2. Model After Success

Reading up founder stories online through feature articles, podcasts, and websites can give you the insights to how these outstanding individuals succeeded in their journey and the pitfalls to avoid on your own.

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Business leaders tend to leave patterns of success. Modeling after them, learning more about their world views, and vicariously going down the same path they took will give you a powerful head start, possibly clarifying difficult and similar decisions you’ll have to make.

Do ensure you pick the right person to model after. Choose someone who has reached the level you aspire to reach. Read up about his or her mottos and visions, their drawbacks and successes, including how they got to where they are now. To quote the old adage: “Learn from the mistakes of others. You can’t live long enough to make them all yourself!””

When I first started our business, I reached out personally to entrepreneurs I looked up to, like Ana Foureaux Frazao, who was a keynote designer at Apple at the time. Fortunately, they generously shared their experienced advice and encouragement that really got me through some tight spots.

Now, you’re lucky enough to be starting a business in a time where podcasts are all the rage[3] and experts share advice for free on Linkedin.

Every success story belies a road laden with challenges and pitfalls waiting to creep up on you. Discover more about these founders’ failures, how they picked themselves up, and apply these lessons you have learned to your own personal ventures. Not only do you get to avoid the mistakes they made, but you are also one step closer to your goal.

3. Enroll in a Course to Learn New Skills

Being an entrepreneur requires you to wear many hats, which often means that you have to take on more roles than you would be comfortable with. In a big company, there are a few essential roles that make the company tick, helmed by various people — HR, marketing, accounts, administrative, etc. Starting your own business means you’ll need to take on all of them.

Consistently acquiring new skill sets and experiences is the hallmark habit of a great entrepreneur.

Take some time to attend classes to improve your skills in areas that need work. Explore in-depth areas that you’re already adept at. By taking a crash course to explore different topics of business, you can hone all your business skills, especially those which you particularly avoided in school.

For example, apart from learning hard skills, like programming and design, you’ll also want to pick up soft skills, like negotiation, sales, and presentation skills.

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Being an entrepreneur does not necessarily mean you need to be good at everything, but it does mean that you need to be willing to try everything and become a jack-of-all-trades. Take the first step to better equip yourself with the most comprehensive duffel bag of skill sets for the long journey ahead because in the beginning, you’ll likely have to do it all by yourself.

4. Master Marketing

Our world is changing. We have children making millions filming reviews about toys[4] and teenage influencers earning more on good months than entry-level bankers. Attention is becoming scarcer, and if you know how to command it, you’ll be in a good position to profit massively.

As a starting point, you’ll want to master a few key elements and skill sets to begin learning marketing:

Platforms and Social Media

Get intimate with various new social platforms like TikTok, tackle professional audiences on LinkedIn, and get familiar with the old-but-gold Facebook channel for advertising. These will be your bread-and-butter channels that you’ll own apart from your own websites and will be crucial in getting the word out about your business.

Blogging and Publishing

Whether you’re using WordPress or Medium, the ethos is the same. Share valuable content for free that your audience will love and develop a community and expert identity. In turn, they’ll potentially purchase what you sell and spread your message.

Years back, SlideShare was the go-to platform for our niche before they got acquired by LinkedIn. I regularly put up PDFs there, which, in turn, got us hundreds of inquiries and leads. After a year or two, we had millions of people viewing our content. Now that it’s almost defunct, we’ve had to find new channels like LinkedIn to market.

Audience Personas

All the marketing tactics and strategies available will be for naught if you do not have a clear idea of who you’re targeting, what they want, and the best ways to reach them. Take time to first understand your audience inside-out — understand their desires, fears, and aspirations.

Pricing Strategies

Marketing should lead to you getting noticed. It should also lead to you getting paid. The latter is more difficult to accomplish effectively. Setting the right prices that will resonate with your audience is crucial to developing a successful marketing strategy and business.

5. Meet Other Entrepreneurs

Nothing beats surrounding yourself with smart, like-minded, and driven individuals who are also facing the same struggles as you are. You are not alone in this journey; there are others that can help you along the way!

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The road to being a successful entrepreneur can be rough and, most of all, lonely. There is a 100% chance that you’ll face challenges and hardship along the way, and having a strong mental game mindset is essential to persisting and staying optimistic.

Having an inner circle of entrepreneurs can offer you contextual advice on making difficult decisions and navigating your next steps. Exposing yourself to this new group of individuals is the best opportunity to pick up something new.

Using apps like Meetup, joining groups on LinkedIn, or attending business events on platforms like Eventbrite can set you up to meet your future inner circle of entrepreneurs.

You never know, you may just learn a little something that can ultimately bring you to greater heights and accomplish even more of the unknown.

Aside from that, you can potentially find business partners or collaborators that don’t compete directly but serve a similar customer group amongst your target audience .

6. Identify a Product Niche You Know Well

It’s easier to sell a product that you are familiar with intimately. You understand the pain points[5] that drive you to make a decision, and your potential customers will go through the same journey of decision-making. Understanding the pain points of the product, you know exactly the change you want to bring to it.

In the best-case scenario, what you’re selling could be what you’re passionate about.

Your interest may be in working out, for instance. As such, starting a business in that space can prove to be more interesting, and due to your intimate understanding of it, likely more successful, too.

We started our presentation consultancy, HighSpark, stemming from interest and expertise. Our existing skills in the area made it easier to get our first few clients versus selling a service or offering what we truly didn’t understand at all. We were also able to clearly articulate the pain points based on previous clients we helped on a freelance basis before starting the business.

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Good business ideas hardly just “come to you” by magic. However, that shouldn’t stop you from starting. Start with a passion, pick a pain point, and begin there. Your ideas and business model might evolve over time, but you’ll thank yourself for starting early.

7. Become an Intern

Before you start building your own empire, consider getting some first-hand experience in the real world to have a good kickstart. Without knowing how the gears work behind the scenes, you increase the chances of yourself making mistakes that could have been avoided.

Interning at a successful small company can be a good start. It can give you deep insights into the company’s inner workings and how its founders developed their business first-hand.

A well-selected internship can expand your horizons, provide an opportunity to work directly with and learn from the founders of the small company. In a larger corporation setting, you might not get the same level of responsibility.

You’ll also have the license to make a few mistakes in a safer environment. People are generally more forgiving towards interns, who are usually less experienced than full-time hires.

This opportunity will let you capitalize on your strengths and apply lessons learned to your business ventures with greater ease. Best of all, you get a free ticket to be mentored by a professional, so there is no need to feel your way in the dark when in doubt. You are not on your own!

Final Thoughts

These tips should be sufficient to get you started, but undertaking the responsibilities to nourish and grow your company takes a lot of courage.

With great resolve and continuous learning, you are only a few more steps away from becoming a successful entrepreneur!

More Tips on Becoming an Entrepreneur

Featured photo credit: Christina @ wocintechchat.com via unsplash.com

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Reference

More by this author

Eugene Cheng

Eugene is Lifehack's Entrepreneurship Expert. He is the co-founder and creative lead of HighSpark, offering presentation training for companies.

Why Leadership and Management Are Two Sides of a Coin How to Overcome the Fear of Public Speaking (A Step-by-Step Guide) How to Succeed in Business: 10 Skills Every Entrepreneur Needs How to Learn Business as an Aspiring Entrepreneur 10 Most Successful Entrepreneurs (And What to Learn from Them)

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Last Updated on August 25, 2021

Why Personal Branding Is Important to Your Career

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Why Personal Branding Is Important to Your Career

As a recruiter, I have met and interviewed hundreds of candidates who have no idea who they are.

Without a personal brand, candidates struggle to answer the question: “tell me about yourself—who are you?” They have no idea about who they are, what their strengths are, and how they can add value to the company. They present their CV’s believing that their CV is the key to their career success. In some ways, your CV still has its use. However, in today’s job market, you need more than a CV to stand out in a crowd.

According to Celinne Da Costa:[1]

“Personal brand is essentially your golden ticket to networking with the right people, getting hired for a dream job, or building an influential business.” She believes that “a strong personal brand allows you to stand out in an oversaturated marketplace by exposing desired audiences to your vision, skillset, and personality in a way that is strategically aligned with your career goals.”

A personal brand opens up your world to so many more career opportunities that you would never have been exposed to with just your CV.

What Is Your Personal Brand?

“Personal branding is how you distinctively market your uniqueness.” —Bernard Kelvin Clive

Today, the job market is very competitive and tough. Having a great CV will only let you go so far because everyone has a CV, but no one else has your distinct personal brand! It is your personal brand that differentiates you from everyone else and that is what people buy—you.

Your personal brand is your mark on the world. It is how people you interact with and the world see you. It is your legacy—it is more important than a business brand because your personal brand lasts forever.

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I have coached people who have very successful careers, and they come to me because they have suddenly found that they are not getting the opportunities or having the conversations that would them to their next role. They are having what I call a “career meltdown,” all because they have no personal brand.

A personal brand helps you become conscious of your differences and your uniqueness. It allows you to position yourself in a way that makes you stand out from the pack, especially among other potential job applicants.

Don’t get me wrong, having a great CV and a great LinkedIn profile is important. However, there are a few steps that you have to take to have a CV and LinkedIn profile that is aligned to who you are, the value you offer to the market, and the personal guarantee that you deliver results.

Building your personal brand is about strategically, creatively, and professionally presenting what makes you, you. Knowing who you are and the value you bring to the table enables you to be more informed, agile, and adaptable to the changing dynamic world of work. This is how you can avoid having a series of career meltdowns.

Your Personal Brand Is Essential for Your Career Success

In her article, Why Personal Branding Is More Important Than Ever, Caroline Castrillon outlines key reasons why a personal brand is essential for career success.

According to Castrillon,[2]

“One reason is that it is more popular for recruiters to use social media during the interview process. According to a 2018 CareerBuilder survey, 70% of employers use social media to screen candidates during the hiring process, and 43% of employers use social media to check on current employees.”

The first thing I do as a recruiter when I want to check out a candidate or coaching client is to look them up on LinkedIn or other social media platforms, such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Your digital footprint is the window that highlights to the world who you are. When you have no control over how you want to be seen, you are making a big mistake because you are leaving it up to someone else to make a judgment for you as to who you are.

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As Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon, once said, “Your brand is what people say about you when you are not in the room.”

In her book, Becoming, Michelle Obama writes about the importance of having a personal brand and her journey to defining her personal brand. She wrote that:

“if you don’t get out there and define yourself, you’ll be quickly and inaccurately defined by others.”

When you have a personal brand, you are in control. You know exactly what people will say about you when you leave the room.

The magic of a personal brand is that gives you control over how you want to be seen in the world. Your confidence and self-belief enable you to leverage opportunities and make informed decisions about your career and your future. You no longer experience the frustrations of a career meltdown or being at a crossroads not knowing what to do next with your career or your life. With a personal brand, you have focus, clarity, and a strategy to move forward toward future success.

Creating your personal brand does not happen overnight. It takes a lot of work and self-reflection. You will be expected to step outside of your comfort zone not once, but many times.

The good news is that the more time you spend outside of your comfort zone, the more you will like being there. Being outside of your comfort zone is where you can test the viability of and fine-tune your personal brand.

5 Key Steps to Creating Your Personal Brand

These five steps will help you create a personal brand that will deliver you the results you desire with your career and in life.

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1. Set Your Personal Goals

What is it that you want to do in the next five years? What will your future self be doing in the next five to ten years? What is important to you? If you can answer these questions, then you are on the right path. If not, then you have to start thinking about them.

2. Create Your Unique Value Proposition

Create your unique value proposition by asking yourself these four questions:

  1. What are your personality features? What benefit do you offer people?
  2. Who are you and why do people enjoy working with you?
  3. What do you do and what do people want you to do for them? How do you solve their problems?
  4. What makes you different from others like you?

The answers to these questions will give you the information you need to create your professional story, which is the key step to creating your personal brand.

3. Write Your Professional Story

Knowing who you are, what you want, and the unique value you offer is essential to you creating your professional story. People remember stories. Your personal story incorporates your value proposition and tells people who you are and what makes you unique. This is what people will remember about you.

4. Determine Which Platforms Will Support Your Personal Brand

Decide which social media accounts and online platforms will best represent your brand and allow you to share your voice. In a professional capacity, having a LinkedIn profile and a CV that reflects your brand is key to your positioning in relation to role opportunities. People will be connecting with you because they will like the story you are telling.

5. Become Recognized for Sharing Your Knowledge and Expertise

A great way for you to promote yourself is by sharing knowledge and helping others. This is where you prove you know your stuff and you gain exposure for doing so. You can do this through social media, writing, commenting, video, joining professional groups, networking, etc. Find your own style and uniqueness and use it to attract clients, the opportunities, or the jobs you desire.

The importance of having a personal brand is not going to go away. In fact, it is the only way where you can stand out and be unique in a complex changing world of work. If you don’t have a personal brand, someone will do it for you. If you let this happen, you have no control and you may not like the story they create.

Standing out from others takes time and investment. Most people cannot make the change by themselves, and this is where engaging a personal brand coach is a viable option to consider.

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As a personal brand coach, working with my clients to create their personal brand is my passion. I love the fact that we can work together to create a personal story that defines exactly what people will say when you leave the room.

Other People’s Stories

Listening to other people’s stories is a great way to learn. In his article, 7 TED Talks About Personal Branding, Rafael Dos Santos presents the best Ted Talks where speakers share their stories about the “why,” “what,” and “how” of personal branding.((GuidedPR: 7 TED Talks About Personal Branding))

Take some time out to listen to these speakers sharing their stories and thoughts about personal branding. You will definitely learn so much about how you can start your journey of defining yourself and taking control of your professional and personal life.

Your personal brand, without a doubt, is your secret weapon to your career success. As Michelle Obama said,

“your story is what you have, what you will always have. It is something to own.”

So, go own your story. Go on the journey to create your personal brand that defines who you are, highlights your uniqueness, and the value you offer to the world.

Featured photo credit: Austin Distel via unsplash.com

Reference

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