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EvolutionofanEntrepreneur

New Webcomics series brought to you by #entrepreneurfail and GetEntrepreneurial.com. Enjoy!

Are you an entrepreneur, marching to progress? 

Everyone has seen the famous scientific drawing, showing the compressed evolution of 25 million years. Entrepreneurs also go through a mental evolution as they go deeper into their businesses.

I got a sale! The first fresh-faced entrepreneurs focus on volumes. Striving to increase the numbers they sell, they would use any tactic to sell more items. Ironically, huge companies (often with large inventory shipments) also capture these metrics, and looking to hit their volume metrics monthly.

The next generation of entrepreneurs are seeking revenues. No longer satisfied with just volumes, they know that pricing can make a huge difference to the perceived value of their products and services. They are carefully tweaking their prices and prodding the elasticity.  Sure they are aiming for volumes, but the true lever is revenue.

Then reality hits! Revenues have been great, but that doesn’t mean they get to keep any of it. Anybody can dole out productat discounted prices or by subsidizing the sales team to hit their sales targets for commissions. However, all aspects of the cost of doing business need to be considered to successfully generate and maintain profits.

And now we reach the modern day successful startup and entrepreneur. In this article, Jeff Bezos recently said that “cash flow per share was the most important thing for Amazon, not profit margins”. Free cash flow, matched with the profits, revenues, and volumes sum upto a modern and successful entrepreneur and company. You just have to let evolution get you there.

Which stage of evolution are you in? Let us know in the comments below. 

This was created by Kriti Vichare for #entrepreneurfail: Startup Success.



 
  


Steps-to-starting-a-busines

Article Contributed by Kate Critchlow

There are points in time for a number of us when we consider the possibilities of starting up our own business, and it usually comes as a result of a good idea or a desire to be self-employed. However, if all you have is a bit of an idea you’re not going to get particularly far, or at least not until you have considered some of the other things that need to be included in starting up your businesses. An important thing to remember is to take your time to put the full thought and consideration into every aspect of your business before you jump in.

Step One: Build Your Idea

The idea is the most important part of your business, it might be a particular product you enjoy making or feel people would find useful, or it might be a service that you feel people need.  If you have an idea that appeals to you and your target audience then you’re off to a good start, even if that idea is a single product you want to make, you can certainly work with the idea to formulate a whole business, but for now forget about the business and concentrate on the product.

Is there anything else like the item or services you’re planning to offer? How much competition is there? What will make you different from the competition? Ask friends and family what they think of your idea and take any criticisms they might have into account as you continue to build on the idea – in most cases these people will be your first customers, so try to listen to their opinions and act on them as much as you can.

Make sure you know what your goals are, it can be most beneficial to know from the start whether you want to grow a business big and fast in order to sell it for a profit or whether you want to sustain a small, profitable business that gives you a steady income – they are very different outcomes for your business and are achieved by following very different routes.

Consider how your idea will perform as a business. Is it something you can do alone or something you will need help to accomplish? Can the idea be changed to make it more cost effective or time efficient? If you’re going to need help and want to bring in a business partner consider very carefully before doing so; how are you going to split the costs, profits and work load? What is your relationship with the person? How will your relationship suffer if the business goes bad and how would your business suffer if the relationship goes bad? Be completely certain before deciding on a partner, agree on what both parties will contribute and be expected to do, write it down and both sign it. This agreement will protect you both in a number of eventualities, regardless of whether that’s because the business went well or because it went bad.

Step Two: Build a Business Plan

Once you have an idea of what your product or service is going to be you can start to think about how it will function as a business. There are a number of things that you’re going to take into consider, try to start by thinking about how you’re going to describe your business, and write down a paragraph doing so. In this you should include why people would choose you, who you target your products or services to and how you deliver these products or services. This will help you to find the focus of your business, regardless of whether you’ve chosen to pride yourself on your local services and focus or you want to bring attention to the completely unique products you can offer.

There are going to be plenty of things to take into consideration; like how long the products or services are going to take you, what you’re going to charge, how much money will be yours and how much will go back into the business, where you’re going to operate. There are hundreds of questions you could ask yourself, and in some cases you already know the answer, so you don’t have to worry about those. Instead think about the questions that are bothering you, those you want to ask and don’t have an answer to, or those your friends and family ask – those are the questions you’re going to have to answer.

Step Three: Consider Marketing Strategies

You’re going to want to give some consideration to your marketing. Where are your customers going to come from? How are you going to reach them? How much money have you set aside for attracting your customers? You’re going to need to be able to implement a marketing strategy as soon as your company is ready to put out work, and of course this is important because you’re going to need customers when you start – friends and family are only going to get you so far.

Consider all of the important questions regarding who your market is; what age range are you targeting? Are you marketing your products towards other businesses or individuals? Where are you likely to find your clients? What are they likely to be interested in? What are they looking for that you can offer? Take into consideration all of these key factors and try to think in the manner you would expect your customers to think; this will help you to come up with a few marketing ideas.

Be sure to write out at least three different plans and put them together with a reasonable standard of detail in order to ensure that you are able to make use of them as effectively as possible. Don’t forget to research the costs of your advertising, and research into coverage and return too, while monitoring the results of your marketing carefully. Understanding early on what has worked well for you and being able to predict how well marketing is going to work for you will help you to keep the number of sales and customers you have within your own chosen parameters.

Look at who your competitors are and how they market their products; chances are your competitors are aiming for something very similar to you, so you may find that they offer some excellent solutions to give you an idea of what marketing plans you’re going to need. It can also be beneficial to know who your competitors are and how well they are doing in the industry, as this may help you to project roughly how well your business is going to do.

Write a plan that will outline your expected progression. Start by making a list of everything that is going to have to be done, then specify an expected timeframe that will be required to do it. End by writing a development plan that will outline the order in which things will be done, who will deal with them, what the deadlines are and the expected time of completion for each task are. You may be looking at preparing staff and space for services, or looking at organising and acquiring materials, packaging, warehousing and shipping arrangements for your products. There are a number of things you may need to worry about, and the first initial period is often the most stressful and the busiest; so prepare for this.

Once you have done the important bits of market research you can think about moving on to the next stages – but keeping an eye on the market and your competition will be important throughout the life of your business.

Step Four: Do the official bits.

There are a few things you need these days before you can actually be considered a business – a name, logo and website make a good start. If you haven’t come up with a name for your business yet you should probably put some real thought into this, consider something short and snappy, easy to remember and bonus points if it can be associated with what your business actually does. Once you have the name set out the logo should be next; as this can be much easier to figure out once you know what your company is going to be called, as well as what it is going to do.

Consider both when coming up with concepts for the logo, and decide on features you want to be sure the logo offers. Once you have a rough idea of what you would like to be included in the logo or what you might want it to look like you may want to consider having a professional design it for you, unless you are particularly artistically inclined. In most cases a professional design will look much better and you’ll probably be happier with it, but this can be quite an investment depending on the designer you choose.

The website is another thing that is probably best left to the professionals; though of course you should map out what you want, put together the information you would like to be presented and have a good idea of how you want the website to look and work the design process and development process can be rather difficult unless you have experience and training when it comes to web design and development, neither of which are particularly simple to accomplish at a business professional standard with self-taught skills.

During the process of designing and developing your logo and website you should take into consideration who your target market are and what they want from you, as this will help you to accomplish a more suitable design that is going to be much more appreciated and more attractive to your particular customers.

Be sure that all of the financial aspects of the business are dealt with; consider how much your business will cost you to run in the first few months, as well as the initial start-up costs. You should be able to operate the business for two months after setup, even without any return on the investment, as this is the easiest way to ensure that you are financially secure in your business. Consider the VAT threshold and prepare your business as if you’re going to exceed it in the first year, if you don’t then you don’t have to worry about it and you get to keep a nice bit of cash, if you do then you’re prepared for it and you don’t have to find the money to pay your VAT at the end of the tax year. Be sure that you are fully prepared for your taxes.

Step Five: Work Hard

Owning a business is not as grand and luxurious as some of the old movies of millionaires made it look, or at least not in the beginning. There is a lot of work that goes into the business during the early stages, and that work has to come from you. Build your brand, make a good impression on your customers, produce your product or supply your services to the best possible standard and ensure that you operate to the best of your ability.

It might take years, but in time it will be worth it. Continue to grow, develop and improve and you are sure to find the rewards that come with owning a business. The more you improve and grow the more you can rely on your business to provide you with a good income, and the more you expand, hire and train the more your business will become part of the community and the less work you have to do yourself, giving you more time for some fun.

If you’re the sort of person that doesn’t finish what you start and gives up easily then starting a business is not for you; it can result in a massive amount of debt and stress. However, if you’re organised, hard-working and willing to put the time and effort into a business then you have an excellent opportunity for success.

So – The Checklist.

I completely understand if you skimmed over the information above, it was a lot to get through and you’re probably in a hurry to get this business started. But let’s not rush anything. Here’s a checklist of the things you’re going to need to have prepared before

  • Organise and arrange your funding and finances – (You may be applicable for government supported funding. Check here.)
  • Business name, logo and website
  • Analysis of your target market (create a buyer persona for reference)
  • Make arrangements with suppliers (if you need raw materials, product packaging, shipping or courier services, equipment and supplies etc. you should get quotes from a few suppliers and make arrangements with those you choose in preparation)
  • Create social media pages and begin engaging with your market
  • Register the business, hire a legal advisor and an accountant
  • Find Employees (it might be just you in the very beginning, but a successful business is not something that can be done alone. Find a trusted business partner or a selection of capable employees to get things started.)
  • Secure your space (whether it’s cleaning out a room in your house or buying a building, make sure you have the space and get it ready for operation)
  • Launch! Sitting around and preparing will only work so long. It’s time to open business, good luck and work hard.

About the Author

Kate Critchlow is a freelance writer currently working with various suppliers to provide information for everything from cardboard boxes to business.


LaserSharpFocus

New Webcomics series brought to you by #entrepreneurfail and GetEntrepreneurial.com. Enjoy!

If you can read this sentence without thinking about your next sales call, the line of buggy code you have to fix, the intern you must hire, or the appointment you are itching to make….then congratulations! You probably have better focus than many new entrepreneurs.

A key driver of a new entrepreneur is really a laser sharp, extremely directed, pinhole-perfect focus. This unwavering bullseye and motivation to get to a goal separates the successful and the mediocre startup founders.

Easier read than done? Here are some tips from experts who know the importance of focus

  1. Identify what’s important to getting your first customer and nothing more
  2. Implement one strategy at a time for growing your business. Move to the next one, once you have assessed all aspects of your current strategy.
  3. Plan alone time and take breaks, as many of the successful entrepreneurs in this article do.  This allows you to recapture and recuperate in your mind
  4. Set mini goals and mini prizes – e.g. 30 minutes undisturbed will get you 10 minutes of social media time
  5. Publish a daily schedule and follow it. Give it to someone who will hold you accountable to those deliverables. Setting a schedule allows you to ‘be your own boss’ in a way where you determine what your future self would be doing and keep you accountable to yourself.
  6. Include an exercise schedule in your daily regimen, as this allows you to consolidate your thoughts.
  7. Say no at least 10x times than you say yes. Saying no lets you focus on your yes commitments.
  8. Learn the art of meditating, which is essentially the art of practicing being focused.

Did we miss anything in the list above? Let us know in the comments below. 

This was originally created Kriti Vichare for #entrepreneurfail: Startup Success.


youtubechart

YouTube has changed the online landscape and dominates the web, with more than 1 billion unique users each month. Over 100 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every minute, and YouTube now reaches more US adults ages 18 – 34 than any cable network. Just to put that into perspective, if YouTube were a country, it would be the third largest in the world, just after China and India.

With that kind of reach, YouTube represents an enormous opportunity for small business owners to get significantly more visibility and exposure.
However, with billions of videos on the video channel, it’s very easy to get lost in the YouTube jungle. In fact, 53% of YouTube’s videos get less than 500 views, and about 30% have less than 100 views. Meanwhile, a miniscule 0.33% have over a million views.

Granted, it’s not all about the numbers, but you do want your video to be seen by as many people as possible. More video views means more engagement, and more engagement means more potential customers!

Fortunately, there are several little-known strategies to optimize your videos on YouTube to give you the “YouTube Booster” effect:

1. Begin With the Basics – It all starts with the upload and your title, description and tags. Be sure to use a descriptive, keyword-rich title. “How to Get More Video Views on YouTube” is pretty good, but “My cool video” won’t cut it as a title. Next, your description should also contain your keywords and should include your full URL. So one of mine might start with http://www.loubortone.com presents how to get more video views on YouTube… YouTube gives you a ton of space for your video description, so take advantage of that real estate. The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon is a great example of how to crush it with the basics. They do a great job optimizing their videos. Lastly, use the tags section to once again list your keywords.

2. Capitalize on Keywords – The importance of keywords cannot be emphasized enough. This is how people find your videos on Google and other search engines, so make sure you’re using your best keywords and consistent keyword phrases. This will also help to “connect” your videos so your other videos show up as related videos.

3. Add Awesome Annotations – Video annotations are a powerful, but under-utilized tool for making your videos more interactive and guiding your viewer to take the desired actions. Annotations can be text, overlays, speech-bubbles or notes, and can be live links to your other videos, playlists, a subscribe link, or even a link back to your main website.

4. Nail Your Thumbnails – YouTube gives you a choice of three thumbnails to represent your video, but you can also add a custom thumbnail to better display what your video is about. Since the three thumbnails YouTube offers are typically pretty random and lame, you’d be crazy not to add a custom thumbnail, where you get to decide what the viewer sees. Create and upload your own thumbnail to take advantage of this option. Many potential viewers will decide whether or not to click on your video simply based on your thumbnail image!

5. Show Up and Share – Finally, be sure to share and distribute your video for maximum reach. Look for the “share” button, which will open up a menu of social media icons and platforms where you can share your video directly from YouTube. You will have to “connect” your accounts first, but once that’s done, it’s easy to share your video to your social media sites with just one click!

Taking the time to optimize your videos with these five steps will help you make the most of YouTube and put you way ahead of your competition. And who knows? With a little luck and persistence, you may even go viral!

Lou Bortone

About Our GE Network Expert - Lou Bortone

Lou Bortone is an award-winning writer and video producer with over 20 years experience in marketing, branding and promotion. As an online video expert, Lou helps entrepreneurs create video for the web at www.TheOnlineVideoGuy.com. More recently, Lou has taken his marketing and branding experience online, where he helps coaches and entrepreneurs build breakthrough brands on the Internet.


business_success_

It’s often overlooked.

Definitely under-rated.

(Unquestionably the biggest mistake entrepreneurs make…..)

Your story, is the single most important influencer in your business – it’s the key to your confidence, your ability to attract clients and to make money from your passion.

Let me tell you just 10 way your story is business dynamite!

1. You understand what you need to do – when you discover your story, it shows you the path that got you to where you are right now…and it becomes really clear what you need to do next!

2. You find your talents and gifts – your story helps you understand exactly what it is that you do best and where you have found success.

3. You discover your niche – your story is the key to finding out who you are passionate about serving, and who will resonate with you and what you offer

4. You discover your ideal client – you story helps you see who it is that you LOVE working with and who loves working with you

5. You feel comfortable talking about you – your story takes the stress out of having to explain to people what you do so that they actually get it!

6. You discover your compelling message – when you figure out your story, you know what is that one compelling message that gets you and everyone else SUPER motivated

7. You attract ideal clients – you can stop chasing clients, they’ll find you and they will be willing to pay you for what you do!

8. You build your business your way – finding your story and using it to build your business means that that you will show up with authentic presence.  It’s your authentic style, approach and personality that will win hearts and make perfect business sense.

9. You’ll have more time – as you begin to realize even more success, you will be able to spend more time doing the things that you love in your business and in your life.

10. You’ll make more money – your story is the key to de-stressing your marketing so that you can attract high-paying clients with ease

If this makes sense to you (and you’re crazy if it doesn’t!!!), then join me for the upcoming FREE webinar “The Power of Storytelling for Instant Credibility, Outstanding Confidence and Extreme Client Attraction!”

http://businessstorymastery.com/bsm-webinar/

And then, leave a comment below, share how YOUR story has made a difference!



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GetEntrepreneurial.com is a small business blog dedicated to providing business advice and resources to our community of aspiring entrepreneurs. Our specially hand-picked panel of GetEntrepreneurial.com Network experts regularly contribute entrepreneurial content and professional tips for small business owners worldwide.