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7 Things Successful Entrepreneurs Do


If every entrepreneur thought of himself as a startup founder, there would be a lot more successful startups and a lot fewer failed entrepreneurs.

The problem is they don’t.

For some reason I can’t understand, many would-be entrepreneurs have a sort of utopian belief that the rules of business, finance, and competitive markets don’t apply to them. They think they’re special.

Sadly, they’re wrong.

I don’t care what product or service you have in mind, what market you plan to address, or what type of customer you think you’re going to sell to. It makes no difference. The rules are always the same.

The good news is it isn’t rocket science, but if you don’t do certain things and do them right, you’ll never get your startup off the ground.

Focus on doing just one thing.

Initially, they focus on demonstrating a concept. Then they move on to developing a product, followed by getting initial customer traction, then phased production. A laser focus on one phase at a time enables the highest probability of success at the lowest burn rate.

Raise capital all the time.

Most companies that contact me for advice have no chance of making it because they tried to bootstrap it, are already short on cash and have no time to raise capital. Businesses have to grow and that can’t happen unless you’re constantly raising capital for the next phase.

Solve a big customer problem.

One of the biggest mistakes entrepreneurs make is that they come up with something they want to do that doesn’t solve a big customer problem better than anyone else. If you can’t come up with that, keep looking. That’s the key to making it. First figure out the problem. Then solve it.

Come up with a differentiated strategy.

You probably won’t nail it right out of the gate – few startups do – but sooner or later you’ll have to come up with a unique strategy that nobody’s thought of and customers can’t resist. Every startup either figures it out eventually or fails along the way. It’s one or the other.

Know their market.

Most entrepreneurs are good at something and they want to turn it into a business. Unfortunately, they don’t know the business side. They just think that, if they do it, it will sell. Unfortunately, that’s not how competitive markets work. You have to understand your market, your competitors and your unique customer value proposition.

Have a strong leader with a solid team.

There are basics of project management and building and motivating a team that every founder has to learn to successfully run a venture. I see startups with founders that have no idea how to manage an enormous gaping hole where key capabilities need to be all the time. Sad but true.

Work 24×7 and wear lots of hats.

If you think you have what it takes to run a startup, get ready to work 24×7 and wear all sorts of hats. And everyone you hire should be motivated to do the same. It comes with the territory. If that workaholic energy level isn’t there, chances are you’re not going to make it.

A recent, albeit limited, the survey found that the vast majority of Millennials think entrepreneurship is a mindset that has nothing to do with starting or running a business. Um … no. It has everything to do with starting and running a company. And if you think it doesn’t, you never will.

4 ways to use a cash infusion to build your business


You did it — you got the funding you’ve been after. For the first time in a long time, your business bank account has room to breathe, thanks to your new cash infusion.

But don’t relax yet. The deposit into your account isn’t the end of the transaction. Now you have to figure out the best ways to use the money.

Reading about all the hardware, software, products and services that you could buy to boost your business could keep you up all night. With the endless options, it’s tough to know which is the smart spend that will take your business to the next level and which is just a waste of cash.

You might sleep better after prioritizing the investments that will best transform your bigger bank account into more revenue. That’s the goal of any business loan, right? A good way to begin is to focus on four key areas:

1. Give customers what they want

Great products and services are what keep customers coming back and build loyalty, which is incredibly valuable. Now is a good time to step back and look at your offerings holistically. Be honest with yourself. What’s not performing like you thought it would? Let it go. What are customers coming back for or specifically requesting? Invest in these revenue drivers. Let the numbers be your guide, so you’re not biased.

2. Amp up your technology

The right technology can give you new insights about customers and prospects, help you find efficiencies, and protect your business from the nightmarish hacking and data-loss disasters that have crippled many companies.

Begin with customer relationship management (CRM) software like Nutshell CRM, Salesforce or Microsoft Dynamics CRM that helps organize and automate your face-to-face and Facebook-to-Facebook engagements with customers. It also lets you track customer loyalty programs and run targeted marketing campaigns. These are available as online services, so you simply pay a monthly subscription fee to store and access all your data and CRM services easily and from anywhere.

Don’t fool yourself: Hackers aren’t just targeting huge enterprises. They are increasingly turning to small businesses. Give top consideration to technology that will secure your business and customer data, such as additional firewall software, EMV chip-card readers, and business identity theft protection. Yes, businesses are just as susceptible to consumers. Criminals can use your business identity and take out credit in its name.

3. Update your equipment

Your biggest mistake may be waiting until a key piece of production or computing equipment breaks to replace it. Think about all of the orders you’ll have to delay or jobs you’ll have to turn down if your equipment isn’t working. Investing in new equipment now will save you a headache — and the greater expense — associated with an emergency replacement later.

4. Pay down your debt

If you have a bank line of credit or use a business credit card, that debt is likely to carry a higher interest rate than your new business loan. Consider using part of your loan to pay down your high-interest credit balances, which will help improve your business credit scores. Building stronger business credit will let you qualify for more funding, with better interest rates, the next time you’re in need.

One of the greatest traits of a business owner is to know what they don’t know. If you’re not sure what to invest in, talk to other business owners in your industry. Ask your staff for their opinions. Turn to experts in the field or a financial planner who specializes in small business. You’ll breathe a lot easier.

Cost Effective Online and Offline Advertising


For a small business, it can be hard at times to justify allocating funds to marketing. But just because big competitors spend millions on advertising doesn’t mean you need to follow suit. Take advantage of the many ways to advertise your business for very low costs, or better yet, FREE!

Online Marketing

  • Websites are a necessity for any size business. Imagine your store is open 24 hours a day 7 days a week! The internet is everywhere – laptops, cell phones, and tablets. Consumers are researching and shopping all hours of the day. Create a professional website with the help of a web designer or check into a hosting company that offers free support. Just having one adds legitimacy to your business.
  • Facebook and other networking sites offer free business pages to promote your company. Interact with viewers by posting comments and questions in the news feeds. Upload pictures to show the world what you have to offer. Giving your business a personality can drive customers to you, and help develop brand identity.
  • If done correctly, the targeted use of paid advertising can be successful. Different models exist, such as Pay Per Click, Cost Per Million, and Cost Per Action, that may suit your business well. Successfully reaching your demographics with these potentially inexpensive online advertising techniques could go a long way.
  • Free Business Directories can help your business get noticed by major search engines. Once your website is up and running you have to get people to visit it, especially if you’re revenue model is e-business. Start with local community and trade affiliations, memberships often include a free listing on their website. Google your business name and you may find public listings that you can claim and customize for free.
  • Emails are a great way to keep in contact with interested prospects and current customers. Create a monthly newsletter that provides the reader with helpful information that ties in with your business.

Offline Marketing

Business cards can give more details than just your name, address, and phone. Printing both sides of your business card will tell your potential customers more about you. Folding cards can open to show your complete product lines and services. They can be inexpensive, or even free. Hand them out to anyone you come into contact with that may be able to give your business

Yellow page listings are still used by a number of potential customers without internet access. Years ago, businesses were judged by the size of their yellow page ad. Today yellow page listings provide only the basic information about the company. Who (company name), what (the company provides), where (physical and internet address) and how (to contact, phone#, email).

  • Vehicle advertising gives your business a rolling billboard. Try dressing up your delivery vehicle with magnetic signs or professional vinyl decals. To really get your message across, consider wrapping the complete vehicle. It’s a unique way of advertising that’s hard to ignore, especially during rush hour traffic. Be sure to keep vehicles clean and rust free, though – your image depends on it.
  • Promotional printed products, such as pens and giveaway items, can be excellent reminders for your customers. Trade shows are a great way to get prospective customers to come to you. Presenting your visitors with a token gift is a wonderful way to say thank you.
  • Newspaper ads can be costly and many times unread. However, you can receive free publicity with press releases. Let your community know you are new in town. Perhaps you just attended a conference or received an award; let everyone know about your accomplishments.
  • Radio spots can be paid for with trade if your business provides something the station could benefit from. If your business is consumer driven, gift certificates that the radio station can use as prizes can offset the cost.
  • There are many coupon packet companies eager to add you to their envelope. Check how they obtain their mailing list, quantity sent out and quality of their printed ads. Some companies offer a mention in radio ads.

Advertising takes time and money. Find out what works best for you by tracking the results of each advertising method. Ask the customer how he found you, use a unique code for each ad and record it on the customer’s invoice.

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