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Article Contributed by Lauren Downey

If you want to succeed in business there are certain things you’re going to have to do the same as everybody else, such as getting your name out there and, yes, paying your taxes on time. There are other things, however, that you should go out of your way to do completely differently, to buck the trend on, in order to secure your place in the history books of successful business owners of the twenty-first century.

With more and more people becoming self-employed and starting their own companies, the competition is stronger than ever before. Rather than letting that deter you, you should see it as a challenge, as something to thrive upon. Sure, you’re unlikely to get anywhere if you follow the same old rules and regulations. But if you choose to do things just that little bit differently to everybody else, success could be just around the corner.

To help you along your way, below are four thing you should start doing differently in your business, right now, to help ensure your success for years to come:

1) Focus on Customer Service

Regardless of what field of business you work in, focusing on improving the level of service you offer your customers will have an enormous impact on the popularity of your business, how many of your current customers become repeat customers, and how many of your customers start referring you to their family and friends.

For an example of a company that thought differently about customer service and, as a result, became one of the largest online shoe retailers in the United States, look no further than Zappos. Zappos (who’s tagline is ‘powered by service’) were bought by Amazon in 2009 for $1.2 billion — and the reason for this acquisition, more than anything else, was due to the extreme focus Zappos place on customer service.

It’s absolutely within your power to do the same. Assuming you’re running a smaller business than Zappos, you don’t have to match the monetary levels their customer service representatives go to to keep their customers happy, but you do have to make the effort to treat your customers like they deserve to be treated.

2) Invest in People

You’ve probably heard the phrase ‘investor in people’ thrown around a lot over the last few years and wondered exactly what it means. You’re not alone. When it comes to doing things differently in your business, one of the best things you can do is invest in (hire) the very best people — people who are already brilliant at what they do, and who show potential to go even further, bringing your business along for the ride.

As a small business owner you may feel pressured into hiring family members or unemployed friends whenever you need to take on a new employee. Although this is an entirely noble thing to do when hiring for unskilled labour positions, when you’re looking to hire somebody to help lead your company alongside you you’re obliged to hire the very best person for the job; an innovator, somebody who knows what they’re doing.

3) Start Thinking Like a Big Business

One way to succeed in business is to start thinking you’re bigger than you are sooner; getting yourself into the mindset of a big business owner. There are many ways you can do this, with one of the easiest (and most convincing) being to rent a large office space as soon as possible, even if you don’t need all the space. When you’re working from (and paying for) a large space you’re going to undoubtably start working harder because you will:

Want to fill the empty space with employees as soon as possible.

Begrudge paying for space you’re not using, and therefore work harder on the grounds that the harder you work, the sooner you can employ more individuals to work alongside you.

4) Consistently Re-Evaluate Your Progress 

This point is absolutely crucial.

One thing business owners tend to do all the time is constantly move from one idea to the next, one marketing strategy to another marketing strategy, always looking for their next move because they believe the path they’re currently on isn’t working. In truth, the path you’re currently on may not be working, but you should give yourself the opportunity to re-evaluate your choices over time so you can:

Give every strategy a fair chance: Changing your mind on a business strategy after not giving it a fair chance is not only foolish, it could cost you money.

Steer clear of obstacles: Re-evaluating the progress of your business once a week, for example, will allow you to notice obstacles early on, giving you the leeway to steer clear of them

Be open to new opportunities: Similar to steering clear of obstacles, if you’re currently on a path that seems to be working, but a new, exciting opportunity comes up, when you’re frequently re-evaluating your progress you’ll be able to recognise this opportunity and decide whether you wish to take it.

In conclusion, success in business resides in you doing things differently to your competitors, whether that be focusing on customer service above all else, investing in the right people, thinking like a big business (and renting a larger office than you immediately need), or constantly re-evaluating your progress.

About the Author

Lauren Downey is a freelance writer from Regus UK, a global workspace provider. Aside from writing, she enjoys cooking Asian foods and travelling across with her husband.



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

“With no marketing budget I resorted to techniques I would have never considered – cold calling, cold emailing, cold presentations, and crashing networking events, amongst others.” 

To spread the word to customers in a big company, the marketing department gets the big bucks to make sure the sales team is out there busting down doors to grow the business. And since chances are the brand or product already has recognition, the marketing helps reiterate and boost the brand in the market. The huge marketing budget pales in comparison to the return on the investment.

In a startup on the other hand, every employee – from founder to developer to gopher needs to be a marketer and a salesperson. The thick skin each employee will develop after hearing constant rejections will only make the value proposition stronger.

This article by Anita Newton goes deeper into the comparison! It’s a good read especially if you are making the transition from big company to small, or vice versa.

Key Startup Lesson: Use inexpensive methods of marketing and PR that all team members can use help grow the business.

Tell us about your experiences marketing in your startup in the comments below. 

This comic and post is from the book: Cheating on Your Corporate Job: A Comic Look at the Startup Dream. Read the review on You can get the book on Amazon Kindle or PDF. Use the code “fifty” to get a 50% discount on the PDF.


The annual U.S. celebration of the Declaration of Independence’s signing is this week. While many just eat hot dogs and watch fireworks, let’s Work Positive and discover 3 strategies from the Founding Fathers’ experience that we can use to achieve our own positive business independence.


The U.S. Founding Fathers viewed “taxation without representation” as the negative mental model cast by a negative British government.

What negative mental models receive your thoughts’ focus? It could be anything from the way you determine your attitude each morning by watching TV “news” to a scarcity mentality from which you grab and rake everything you can wrap your arms around.

Who are the negative people that get your attention? From an employee or coworker, vendor to regional manager, they suck your positive time and energy even after you go home. It costs too much to do business with some people.

Is your business positively growing this way?

The first strategy is to determine today to develop a more positive mental model independent of your status quo. Feed your attitude something more positively nutritional for breakfast. Grow an abundance mentality by thinking about all you do have instead of what you don’t.

Determine to give your attention to positive mental and social energies so your business will positively grow independent of current negativity.



The second strategy is to declare your positive determination to transform your attention. 

The Founding Fathers of the U.S. signed a document that clearly stated what they believed to be true as the positive recasting of their attention and why. It’s known as the Declaration of Independence.

Our positive thoughts and relationships to which we give attention organize and crystallize when we declare in writing what we believe to be true. The most powerful fuel for focus is your pen.

Write down what you positively declare your independence from today. Write about more than just what you’re against. Notice the U.S. Declaration of Independence primarily focuses on positive truths that to the signers are self-evident. Keep your word count tight and positive as you declare your positively transforming mental model and social relationships.


You’ve determined to do business more positively by transforming the thoughts and people who receive your attention. You’ve declared your determined beliefs.

Now it’s time to act—the third strategy. 

The British response to the U.S. intention for a more positive focus of attention was “Bring it on.” While the U.S. may have preferred acquiescence, war ensued.

Every action has a consequence. In business as in life, you are 100% responsible for your actions and their consequences. You start your journey to Work Positive with the first two steps when you determine to positively realign your thoughts and relationships and then declare them. There are many more steps down that path. Sustaining the positive change means you perpetually act in the 5 core practices of a Work Positive lifestyle.

The Revolutionary War came at a great cost to both the Americans and the British. Yet it was necessary for global growth to occur.

What one action will you take today to positively grow your business?

Create your own celebration as you implement these 3 strategies for your positive business independence.

The Secret to Having More Time

Do you feel overwhelmed by the day to day rush of your life and your business?

Are you sick and tired of wishing there were more hours to the day?

I can so relate.

I have to admit, I don’t have a fix-it-quick solution, or a magic pill.

But don’t despair – I do have something that could shift it all and make a huge difference to your life and business right now.

And you’ve guessed it; it’s all about your story!

Okay, so stay with me on this…I want to explain.

You see, there is this intense human desire to ‘tell’ our experiences.  We live something and then we go ahead and tell the story. (In fact, if we experience something and don’t tell anyone about it, sometimes we even wonder if we actually experienced it!!).

What we tell is mostly our version, I mean, it’s not pure fact, right?  It’s our story of the experience, based on our perspective, our background, previous experience and world view.

But here’s the thing, we tend to call it ‘fact’ and ‘reality’ and act as if we have no say in the matter, no control or power over this reality.  The ‘truth’ is that we have made most of it up.  Or at least, decided to tell the story in this way.

So, let’s take time as an example.  When we are waiting for our turn in the dentist chair to be over, we seem to have plenty of time.  I mean, time just can’t go fast enough.

When we are ‘in our element’, as explained so beautifully by Sir Ken Robinson is his TED talks and amazing book ‘The Element’, time just disappears.  It’s when we are doing that thing we love and are really good at.  We become unaware of time and it flies by.

So you can see that time and how much of it we have, tends to be dependent upon our story of what we are doing, what we need to do and our experience throughout.

If you take a deep breath and create a more empowering story about where you are in this unending list of tasks and activities, you might find that rather than being resentful of what you have not had ‘time’ for; you can be grateful for your achievements.

If you begin to celebrate the moment, the perfection of what is, then measuring time becomes obsolete and you can simply ‘be’.

So, it’s all about your story. It’s about how you consider time and how much your story depends upon a sense of controlling it.

Let go. Breathe deep. Smile at the story you are in this moment.This time is perfect. And there’s plenty of time for everything. That’s my story, it soothes and releases me!  What’s your story?

Lisa Bloom

About Our GE Network Expert - Lisa Bloom

Lisa Bloom is a highly professional and accomplished Storyteller, Professional Certified Coach (ICF) and Training & Development Expert with more than 20 years experience working in public and private sectors, high-tech and financial services environments. Lisa helps entrepreneurs de-stress the marketing, build their business with confidence by finding their success story at


Co-Founders Keepers #entrepreneurfail

Posted by Marcel Sim in Networking

cofounderneeded CofounderKeepers

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

“I can do it all myself.”

This is the declaration many new entrepreneurs make (myself included) as they decide to go solo. They often overlook the fact that cofounders can balance out their skills, help propel business and even provide investment.

Unfortunately, it is difficult to find a suitable cofounder! So it’s common for solopreneurs represent their ventures as ‘we’ and ‘my team’.  And why shouldn’t they? They are indeed the CEO, CFO, CMO, Developer, Assistant, and Gopher.  But there is a risk of spreading themselves too thin.  As I was working on a business idea, I was frustrated as I was pushing myself to learn things that were not my expertise. The hours, weeks and months wasted could have easily been avoided if I had found a cofounder who complemented my skills but still shared my vision from the get-go.  This is an #entrepreneurfail that is easy to fall into at the beginning of an entrepreneurial journey.

As an entrepreneur makes progress, taking the time and effort to find a cofounder or a team to supplement his/her skill-set will prove valuable. And as an added bonus, investors often prefer teams with varied skills to protect their investment.

So what should you do?

If you are truly ready to share the vision and responsibility of your baby, then start searching for a cofounder.  In addition to networking events, and your university’s alumni database, some great resources to find the perfect match include: CoFoundersLab and FounderDating.

Be ready for the tough conversations up front, as Harvard Business School professor Noam Wasserman suggests. He recommends discussing equity based on output not just an arbitrary fraction. It’s prudent to have the expectations set upfront. It’s one less thing you will have to juggle on your journey.

Did you decide to go solo or find a suitable partner? Tell us about your quest for a cofounder in the comments below? 

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

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