The allure of being your own boss, along with the no-ceiling income that comes along with it is hard for most people to resist. However, more often than not, the odds will be stacked against you and that’s why 9 out of 10 startups fail, according to Fortune.((Fortune: Why startups fail, according to their founders
))But what about the 1 out of 10 that have succeeded? Although there’s no single foolproof way to become a successful entrepreneur, success still leaves patterns and clues. Here are 15 powerful actions you can take today to make your entrepreneurship dreams a successful reality:
1. Identify your goals
Goal-setting may not be the most sexy-sounding task, but it’s one that’s crucial to your success. Just think, if you don’t know where you’re going, how are you going to know when you get there?Setting goals can take a few basic forms for aspiring entrepreneurs:
Your income is one of the first few and most important considerations when it comes to running a business because more often than not, you’ll need to give up something else to find time to delve into entrepreneurship.Are you looking to become a millionaire in a few short years? Or are you gunning for a spot next to billionaires like Mark Zuckerburg and Warren Buffett?Knowing upfront what your income expectations are will keep you accountable to yourself and other stakeholders in your company or your family back home.With that being said, however, being overly focused on revenue can affect the way you run your business in negative ways. Be sure to do regular reviews to see if you’re on track.
Entrepreneurship is not a 9-5 job. In most cases, there aren’t any fixed hours and you’ll typically end up working harder than you have ever worked before. The faster you realize that the better, so you can evaluate whether this may or may not be the lifestyle you want to live in the long term.Various entrepreneurs instead decide to run lifestyle businesses where they work remotely from any location and are selective with the work they decide to accept.If you intend to work remotely with a four-hour work week, the business that you decide to do will have to enable you to do that. At the same time, by balancing out projections with your income goals, you’ll get a much better idea of whether your decision is a feasible one.
2. Outsource tedious tasks
As an entrepreneur, you’ll likely be starved for time on a regular basis. Dedicating your time solely to high value tasks and outsourcing the rest will help you reclaim your sanity and grow your business faster.A good temporary option is to consider hiring interns. This can be very beneficial for startups that are strapped for cash.Typically, internships are meant to give interns real-world working experience at a more conservative allowance. This lets interns learn the ropes without long-term commitment whilst business owners get to save a little bit of cash at the start.Otherwise, you can also try hiring freelancers from Fiverr
to help you in the areas that you do not specialise in. This can mean writing, designing or even video editing.Although it may not be tedious per say, it does help you manage your time more efficiently by letting you work on your strengths.
3. Automate processes with technology
We live in an age where we can automate most processes using software and algorithms. Not only that, automation is fundamental in scaling a company's marketing and also drives revenue – 60% of which are B2B buying process done online according to Forbes.((Forbes: 10 Strategic Ways To Automate Your Internal Business Workflows
))A low-hanging function for automation is marketing. Email marketing software like MailChimp
lets you configure autoresponders to send sequences of mails without any additional involvement after the first setup.Automating processes is also extremely efficient as it helps handle repetitive tasks that can be too time consuming. What you want is to let your staff maximise their time spent working on more useful things.Another example is a software program called ‘Rosie the Robot’, developed by the West Monroe Partners (WMP).((West Monroe: Robotic Process Automation: Beyond the Myth
))This software program takes on cumbersome and manual tasks off, including the hiring system – where it uploads names, addresses, dates of birth and other employee information into several systems such as travel and expense, payroll and insurance.This cuts down the process time taken – whereby a person takes half an hour to settle this task, it takes only five minutes for the software to do so.
4. Invest in design sparingly
Investing in branding and design might seem like an action that is reserved for much bigger companies or more season entrepreneurs, but it can increase profits exponentially when done right – even for smaller businesses.A professional visual identity not only helps you appear more professional, but in the long run, new customers will find you more trustworthy and at times premium.Naturally, you don’t want to go all out on branding by spending thousands when you first start. Instead, try using free online tools like LogoJoy
or developing a single-page brand guideline((e27: 4 easy steps to bootstrapping your startup brand
)) for the time being.If you need to develop collateral, try using some free icons available online for your projects instead of paying for expensive stock imagery.
5. Get online, or be forgotten
In today’s digital market, if you’re not online, you don’t exist. Even traditional businesses can benefit greatly from leveraging digital marketing and developing a strong online presence.Start by getting yourself a hosting account for your company’s website domain, register all the name-brand social handles before they get snapped up by others and begin to populate these platforms with content.What made a real difference for me in the early stages of developing my business was purchasing my own domain from platforms like NameCheap or GoDaddy. This provided a contact point for interested customers or collaborators to reach out to me directly via a simple contact form.If you’re not so much of a techie, consider using platforms like SquareSpace or Wix to get started quickly without any programming experience.
6.Use videos to market your business
Almost 5 billion Youtube videos are watched everyday. Aside from that, we’re seeing a rise in video productions used on a variet y of social platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Linkedin and more. Research has also shown that videos have been proven to increase retention by 80% when used correctly.((Motion Sauce: 50 Video Marketing Stats To Help You Win 2018
))If you aren’t yet leveraging on videos for your business, some ways you can consider are:
- Informational videos that educate your target audience to help them get what they want.
- Product-specific videos to expound on the benefits of your services or offerings.
- Timely statistical videos that piggyback on current news for relevance.
7. Conduct an Initial Coin Offering (ICO)
This might not apply to every business, but if you’re working with a strong technical team with blockchain ambitions, this could be a worthy consideration.Initial Coin Offerings are quickly becoming one of the most popular ways to raise funding rivalling even venture capital. It’s quick, loosely regulated (as at 2018) and can potentially solve your cash problems.The only drawback is that you’ll only be able to receive funds in cryptocurrency which you’ll then need to convert into fiat.
8. Write a blog
Starting and writing a blog is one of the easiest ways to get noticed online. Regularly sharing useful and valuable information to your prospective customers via your blog can potentially increase traffic to your site as well as aid in building authority for your brand.A popular strategy that involves writing for blogs known as ‘guest posting’ is not only a great way to drive traffic to your blog from other platforms, it also helps you rank on Google’s search rankings. The only catch is that you’ll have to earn a spot by pitching your own stories.At the same time, there are other platforms like Medium and Linkedin with their own pool of users where anyone can publish content. Consider syndicating content from your blog on these platforms in the early stages to build a following and take your content much further.With the rising popularity and efficacy of content marketing as a strategy, its no wonder thousands of business owners have benefitted from it as a long-term strategy.
9. Build an email list
Any seasoned business owner will tell you that your list or database of contacts is one of the most valuable assets you can have. It’s important that you store the contact information of qualified individuals that might be interested in your products and services.This is so you can reach out to them consistently using email marketing software like MailChimp, which can keep your sales pipeline full and your income steady.Developing a nurturing cycle - a series of emails for new subscribers that opt-in to your email list will increase your chances of converting them into paying customers by maintaining top-of-mind presence and developing deeper relationships.
10. Try networking
They say your network is your ‘net worth’. Networking is a give-and-take exercise that requires you to be authentic, sometimes daring but most importantly, always resourceful.Getting connected to prolific individuals or magnates in adjacent industries can accelerate the growth of your business with opportunities that you may not have gotten, if you had not put yourself out there to meet new people.Try heading to your local casual networking meetups or to a more formal conference with a purpose: meeting people that you can help and the ones that can help you.
11. Develop a personal brand
If you are the face of your business, you’ll do well by investing in developing a personal brand. This means that if people trust you, they’ll by association, trust the business.A great example of someone who’s successfully done so is Neil Patel – someone who’s spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on growing his personal brand. He has built a strong audience, consistently writes contrarian thought pieces and has also delivered massive value to his followers.Although it can be a daunting experience when it comes to building a personal brand starting from ground zero, here are some simple yet helpful tips to make your journey as seamless as possible:
- Decide what you stand for as a brand.
- Decide what you don’t stand for as a brand.
- Develop content for your social channels that are helpful to your audience but also communicate your stance on topics related to your expertise.
12. Model after your competitors or differentiate
This might sound counterintuitive but your competitors with a longstanding business can be useful references for the way you run yours.Take a leaf from their strategies to acquire more customers and grow your bottom-line. More often than not, you’ll find that they’ve made all the mistakes that you can avoid to get to their current method of operation. Consider:
- How they do marketing - how do they gain awareness and more customers?
- Their brand messaging and how they communicate to the public
- The way they price their services
Naturally, there may also be a lot of things your competitors are doing wrong. Do well to avoid those pitfalls –with the benefit of hindsight– and you’ll get ahead of them one day.
13. Form strategic partnerships
Partnerships are one of the fastest ways to grow your business without using too much of your own resources. The best partnerships are ones where partners have similar target audiences but don’t directly compete with each other.These strategic partnerships could come in the form of co-marketing efforts where you organise campaigns together, ultimately sharing cost and contact database for promotion.Another basic way to collaborate with partners is to develop referral programs – if your partner refers a successful sale, they’ll get a kickback commission and vice versa.
14. Improve your public speaking
Public Speaking is a skill that legendary investor Warren Buffett advocates for people to learn in order to boost their careers and success in life – and it is with good reason.Being able to speak well and articulate confidently on stage can mean increased trust and visibility for your business on the right platforms.Try offering an educational session at a local business association full of your target audiences. You’ll be surprised at how much traction you can get when attendees start to recognise you as a thought-leader on your subject.You can also take a look at my detailed guide about public speaking to learn more tips:The Ultimate Public Speaking Tips to Hook and Impress Any Audience
15. Manage your cash flow
One of the biggest killers of businesses is badly managed cash flow, where customers don’t pay on time coupled with high regular expenses in your business.Work with an accountant to forecast spending and keep a close eye on your accounts receivables. That way, you’ll get to avoid a messy time where you’re short on cash not because you don’t have the business, but because you failed to collect payment on time.
The bottom line
These tips should be enough to get you started, but growing a company is a big undertaking not meant for the faint of heart.Hunker down, apply what you learn and you can get that much closer to your own success as a new entrepreneur!