• 3 Dangerous Entrepreneurial Myths You Need to Ignore

    This terrible advice won’t actually get you anywhere.

    We’ve all heard the numbers about how hard it is to build a long-lasting business. While there are many factors at play to get there, without effective marketing and sales a business cannot survive.

    Unfortunately, there is a multitude of dangerous and destructive marketing advice swirling around the heads of vulnerable entrepreneurs. Like vultures seeking their next meal, “gurus” pontificate nonsense that these hard-working business owners follow, only to discover that what they tried doesn’t work.

    Often, once the damage is done, it is too late for them to do anything else about it.

    If you want to not only survive, but thrive, here is some of the terrible advice you need to start ignoring:

    1. “You need to be everywhere.”

    I’m sorry, but how do these people sleep at night without the use of narcotics? “Experts” spew out dribble to make headlines saying you need to get on Snapchat, get on Periscope, do YouTube Live . . . be everywhere! They’ll say you need to get on this platform or that social media network. Oh, and use LinkedIn Live! And make sure to post on Instagram three times a day and Facebook twice a day. And don’t forget those Facebook Lives. Make sure to do them every day.

    ACK! Just writing that paragraph stressed me out. How the heck are you supposed to be on all of those channels, never mind doing it all effectively, and still run your business? Of course you can’t. And you shouldn’t. (Unless self-torture is your thing, in which case have at it. There are books about that, but I’m not giving any titles because I’d have to Google them and then I’d be retargeted by the ads and that would just be gross.)

    It is impossible to spend even half an hour on each major network and still get any work done. Forget about focusing on measurement, profit and return on investment. They don’t mention that on purpose, because then these crazy-pants suggestions would really make no sense. But, then these “experts” would stop making the headlines, so they keep serving up spoiled advice for the poor folk who chow down and then get sick on it.

    Don’t allow yourself to fall victim to their plots of deception. Demand strategies that value your time and produce results in a significant and measurable way quickly.

    2. “It takes money to make money.”

    I didn’t take the easy way out. I am part of a group of scrappy entrepreneurs who have a lot of hustle and heart and little/no/negative funds. I didn’t come from family money, and the big banks certainly weren’t lending to businesses like mine. The only way I was going to get a big pile of cash was if I won the lottery. And since I’ve only played about four times in the last decade, the chances of that happening were slim. What I had to find was the same thing you most likely want — a solution to predictably bring in customers when there is no marketing budget to play with.

    3. The Schmo-bags.

    The worst are who I call the “Ferrari Marketers.” They rent a sportscar for an hour or two, hang out in front of it and then sell us shiny object strategies that they haven’t even used in their own business.

    They are abhorrent, hideous and dangerous. Not only are they crooks stealing the money of the people who are seeking a solution from them, but they may prevent really talented people who have a gift/service/product/offer to share that can help someone else from ever reaching them.

    Did I mention they suck?

    But, once you discover a game-changing system, you are responsible for implementing it. You can’t be distracted by shiny objects any longer.

    As Jack Welch says, “Good business leaders create a vision, articulate the vision, passionately own the vision and relentlessly drive it to completion.”

    Don’t allow yourself to be enticed or distracted by fads or the “latest and greatest/not greatest” new social media strategy, channel or tactic.

    Once you uncover how to truly get results, be strong-willed and stubborn. Repel any idea, strategy or initiative that requires you to keep spending money to make money. If you keep throwing dollars and time at a goal, hoping and wishing that it will work, yet not tracking or measuring the results and scaling accordingly, then you cannot expect results.

    Start measuring, tracking and demanding results from your time and money, rising above others and landing in the successful minority that thrives instead of survives.

    Source: entrepreneur.com

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  • Building a Startup Is Like Running a Marathon at a Sprint Pace — Here Are 4 Ways to Cope

    A founder shares her strategies to handle burnout so it doesn’t consume you, or your dream.

    Running a startup is like running a marathon at a sprint pace. There is no room for slowing down; you have to keep racing toward the next mile marker, and then the next one, and then the next.

    Though a footrace may end after 26.2 miles, the startup marathon never really ends. You have to keep going when you feel like your body, mind and your entire being want to give up. And you have to keep telling yourself you can do it when you feel like the universe is conspiring to tell you that you can’t. Sprinting through the startup marathon ensures that you can learn fast, iterate, make up for mistakes and continue to grow at pace, beat your competitors to the punch or block anyone entering your space. To win the startup race you need to be agile and grow quickly in the shortest amount of time. Doing that at anything less than a sprint will get you — at best — second place.

    It does get easier, though. It has to, because maintaining the sprint pace during a marathon indefinitely is impossible. Even trying to maintain that sprint pace indefinitely is a set up for the entrepreneur’s worst enemy: burnout.

    Burning bright, burning out

    While running a startup, you’ll hear a lot about burnout. People talk about it as a weakness, as something to be avoided. But, what they don’t often mention is that burnout — in one of its many forms or another — is inevitable.

    I’ll be the first to tell you I experienced it in the first year after relocating RangeMe and my young family from Sydney, Australia to San Francisco. I was traveling once a week across the United States trying to win over new retail clients that could potentially change the shape of the business overnight (and when we won over Whole Foods, it did just that). That was coupled with trying to hire a team and raise capital for a startup, which alone is relentless and takes boundless energy and a strong backbone. All the while I was still a wife and a mother, raising two children along with my third child, RangeMe.

    And this company is my third child, bringing with it all the same emotions as being a mother to a human child. And it goes a step beyond, too — my entire livelihood is invested in this startup, as my husband is the co-founder, and we moved literally to the other side of the world to pursue the full potential of this startup. Everything, and I mean everything, is riding on this.

    No pressure or anything.

    Looking back, I honestly don’t know how I mentally and physically got through that first year. More than once I wanted to just say stop and walk away. I wanted to give up the race, quit on my dream. But, I made it through, and I’m here to tell the tale. I’m here to tell you it’s possible. I’m here to tell you that you can sprint through a marathon. I’m here to tell you that you’ll get 99 no’s and one yes, and that yes is all that counts; it is what keeps you running. I’m here to tell you that passion and positivity will prevail, and having a positive attitude is everything.

    And I’m also here to tell you that burnout is real. And it will happen. But, don’t let it consume you, or consume your dream.

    Now that we’re solidly established here in the U.S., and RangeMe continues to grow and expand and take on new opportunities, the sprint pace I’ve been running the past few years is getting just a little easier. But, you have to acknowledge that even as things get easier, executing at such a high level of emotion for a sustained period of time puts entrepreneurson the fast track to burnout. Recognize it’s going to happen, and keep these four things in mind when it does:

    1. Get out while you can.

    Not from the startup race, of course. I mean step out of your office, go for a run, grab a drink with a friend — someone who is decidedly not involved with your business. Having someone to vent to is the best therapy. I was lucky to have a close friend who loved hearing about the ups and downs of startup life, so once a week we would meet and pound the hills in San Francisco while I would vent and chat for a full hour. She was a coach, friend and psychologist all mixed into one. Best of all, I was getting exercise in at the same time, which is also a key stress burner.

    2. You’re not CNN.

    Unlike the 24-hour news cycle, you can turn off your accessibility, and you should. Multiple communication channels are helpful, but can also be a great contributor to burnout when you spend so much of your time having to manage them. They can actually make you less productive. Take control and make specific time to check calls and messages, and then move on.

    3. You’re also not Slack, GChat or IM.

    Stop instantly responding to people and requests. There’s no harm taking longer to respond; in fact, it’s probably better that you do, as it makes for more thoughtful responses and forces you to think: Can I handle this request? Will it help me run the race? Or will it trip me up?

    4. Let it go.

    Remember above where I said I spent the first 12 months in the U.S. flying cross country, raising my kids and hiring a team all at the same time? I hired that team for a reason — because they’re the best. I wouldn’t have hired them if they weren’t. I hired them to do the things that I can’t do, and I hired them so I can do the things I can do.

    Running a startup is the most draining yet most rewarding experience of my life. It brings out raw, heady emotions across every twist and turn. For those who are thinking about it or are in the trenches at the moment, be real with yourself. Recognize that you’ve chosen a challenging path — with every one step backwards you may take three or four steps forward. Failure is okay, as long as you learn, iterate and move forward.

    You will burn out, and that’s okay too.

    It’s what you do after the burnout that matters.

    Source: entrepreneur.com

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  • 10 Ventures Young Entrepreneurs Can Start for Cheap or Free

    Don’t be discouraged. You can afford to leave the 9-to-5 rat race.

    If you’re a young entrepreneur who’s sick of the 9-to-5 rat race, you should start thinking out of the box. You need to find an idea that will allow you to start your own business so that you can choose your hours and even your salary. It’s important to ensure that it doesn’t cost you a small fortune to get started.

    With this in mind, I’ve created a list of 10 business ventures for young entrepreneurs that can either be started for free or cheaply.

    1. Chatbot-creating agency.

    Chatbots are in, and businesses of all sizes are adopting them as part of their marketing, sales, and customer services teams. These bots allow businesses to cut costs while increasing revenue. What many of them don’t know is that creating a chatbot isn’t as difficult as it once was.

    Now, thanks to platforms like Chattypeople, you can create an enterprise-grade chatbot powered by artificial intelligence (AI) and natural language processing (NLP) in a matter of minutes with absolutely no coding or programming knowledge.

    With the above in mind, creating a chatbot-building agency is easier than ever. You could create a Chattypeople account for free and offer your services to companies of all sizes. Best of all, as your agency grows, you can upgrade your account and, of course, increase your prices.

    2. Online retail consigner.

    If you have a camera, a computer and a real passion for fashion, you can incorporate them and start your own online business. Start by gathering all the old clothes you’ve hoarded over the years and no longer wear, and take professional pictures of them.

    You could either post your items on eBay or create your own personal store through Shopify or WordPress. The earning opportunities with this type business venture are endless, and best of all, you don’t have to limit yourself to just clothes. You could also sell vintage furniture, children’s accessories, garden equipment, and much more.

    3. Instagram consultant.

    Instagram is one of, if not the most popular, social media channels alongside Facebook and Twitter. Many companies are now opting for a visual social media presence, meaning they invest a more time into the likes of Instagram and Pinterest rather than being social on Facebook and Twitter.

    However, creating an Instagram following isn’t as easy as it seems, and if you’re a business, you’ll want to gather a following quickly. This is why these businesses hire Instagram consultants to do everything for them. With that in mind, if you love Instagram, have a smartphone, have a solid following, and do some basic marketing, you could quite easily become an Instagram consultant without making a huge monetary investment.

    4. Copywriting and editing services.

    You don’t need to have a formal education to become a copywriter or editor. In fact, you really don’t need anything apart from a computer. That said, to get higher paying clients, you need motivation, perseverance, and the right support system.

    If you can get your current clients to write testimonials highlighting your skills, you’ll likely see new customers rolling in. Once you’ve developed a client base, you’ll notice they frequently need new content written, and you can also start charging more.

    5. Blogging or vlogging

    If you have a specific skill set or are an expert in a particular industry, why not teach others? Blogging is a great way to share information with people. While you may not see how you can make money from giving people free advice, the opportunities are actually endless. You first need to increase your visitor numbers and gather a loyal following. Once you have, you can sell advertising space to companies as well as enroll in programs like Google AdSense.

    In addition to the above, you can create e-books or printed copies and sell them on your blog and through platforms like Amazon. Plus, if writing isn’t your thing, worry not. You can do all the above through video instead of written format. All you need is a computer, webcam or camera, and a website.

    6. Business and life coach.

    If you’re more of an introvert, you’re probably quieter, with a calmer demeanor, and possess a tendency to think before you speak or act. If this is the case, you should consider a career in consulting. Your ability to internalize events and listen means that you have all the skills needed to become a business or life coach.

    While you aren’t required by law to complete life coach training, you can do so if you want to have a certification to show clients. If you choose to not do the course, the overheads from being a life coach are little to none, and you can perfom consultations on the phone or online.

    7. Graphic designer.

    If you’re creative, have a computer, and know how to use design software, freelance graphic design can be an awesome way to make a living. Digital businesses are on the rise, and with that comes a higher demand for logos, website design, and other marketing materials.

    If you have the creative flair, but don’t have the experience with design software, you can either enroll in a short online course which is normally quite cheap or you can teach yourself. Many graphic designers are self-taught; you just need patience and time to get started.

    8. College application advisor.

     

    Similar to with being a life or business coach, college application advisors are good at offering one-on-one advice that’s personal to every client. If you believe you can offer thoughtful advice, have strong organizational skills, and want to help young adults take the next steps in their careers, you could offer your services as a college application advisor. All you need is a computer, a love for research, and an understanding of the educational system.

    9. Tutoring

    Tutoring is a job you could do completely online. You just need a computer, a website to market yourself, and a specific set of skills that you can offer to people. For example, if you’re a math guru, know another language, or have a college degree, you could teach students via Skype or over the phone. Aside from being virtually free to get started, you’ll be able to charge up to $100 an hour depending on the student’s needs.

    10. Photographer

    Photography is something that many people regard as their hobby, but in actual fact, it can become quite a lucrative career choice. If you already have a camera and your friends often ask you to take pictures at their events, it’s likely you have what it takes to turn your hobby into your career.

    To get started, create a website and upload a portfolio of your best photography along with your contact information. If you want to take it one step further, get some help with your marketing…you’ll find customers queueing at your door to pay for your services.

    Finally…

    Starting your own business can be challenging, but with some motivation, perseverance, and a bit of business sense, you’ll be able to not only choose a career path that you love, but also do it without spending a fortune. Choose one of the options mentioned above to get started, and remember to network as much as possible to stay current with your industry’s latest trends.

    Source: entrepreneur.com

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  • Startup Accelerators Aren’t Banking on Exits Any More

    Accelerators are increasingly selling a range of services to generate ongoing revenue, without waiting years for startups to be sold.

    Within only a decade, accelerators have become a mainstay of startup ecosystems in regions around the globe. Throughout this period, the accelerator business model has continued to evolve. Still in the Global Accelerator Report 2015, a majority of accelerators globally still indicated that they intended to follow the traditional “cash-for-equity” model, first established in 2005 by Y Combinator, which involves investing a small amount of seed money in a startup in exhange for equity. Investments typically are around $25,000 on averag in exchange for between 5 percent and 10 percent equity.

    This model has now been abandoned by a majority of accelerators, as highlighted by the recently published Global Accelerator Report 2016. The report highlighted that only 32.7 percent of accelerators predict that they will generate revenue from exits in the future, a significant shift from 2015.

    The reason for the pivot in the accelerator business model is, most likely, the small number of exits — 178 reported in 2016 — which has proven insufficient in funding their operations. Morevoer, exits usually do not occur earlier than three to five years into a startup’s lifecycle, denying accelerators a profit on investment for several years. To make up for the expensive day-to-day upfront costs of operating their programs, accelerators have deployed new models that allow them to generate revenue.

    These changes enabled the industry to keep growing year-on-year. According to new findings in the 2016 Global Accelerator report more than $206M (up 8 percent) was invested into 11,305 (up 28 percent) startups across five major regions, including the United States and Canada, Latin America, Europe, the Middle East, and Asia and Oceania. USA continues to be the leading country both in terms of startups accelerators and in dollars invested via accelerators.

    Nearly all (90.4 percent) of accelerators globally relied on, and continue to explore, new models of revenue generation. These include charging for mentorship, subletting office space, hosting events and working with corporations. Revenue from corporations has seen the largest increase. More than half (52.1 percent) of accelerators are at least partially funded by a corporation, and 67.2 percent aim to generate future revenue from services sold to corporations.

    On the one hand, this is because corporations are discovering that accelerators are an efficient and effective way to engage with startups. On the other hand, accelerators understand that corporations can help them fund operations in the short-to-medium term (exits are often far out). They improve the prospects of their portfolio companies that can potentially sell to, raise funds from, or be acquired by these corporations.

    Corporate revenue generated by accelerators came from two main sources in 2016: corporate partnerships, generally in the form of a white-labeled or jointly-run acceleration program created by the accelerator on behalf of the corporation, and corporate sponsorship packages sold by accelerators.

    It is clear that accelerators have changed their operating model globally in a significant way over the last few years. The accelerator model whilst still aligned with its predecessor’s original vision of nurturing disruptive companies – is different in a number of ways. These new accelerators possess a diversified revenue model, often focus on a specific vertical and work closely with corporations. In the coming years and beyond, it will be interesting to see what new pivots the global accelerator industry will undergo in an attempt to achieve sustainability and less reliant on government grants and private funding.

    Source: entrepreneur.com

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  • The Most Powerful Brands in Franchising

    Here are the strongest brands in franchising for 2017, ranked.

    There are many ways to measure the strength of a franchise. How many units does it have? What are its financials? Its growth? How well does it support its franchisees? But this month, for the first time ever, Entrepreneur is zeroing in on a factor that’s challenging to measure, easily overlooked and yet critical to the health of any business: branding.

    We wanted to know: Which franchises have done the best job of building themselves up as beloved, recognizable, robust brands? We did this by analyzing factors such as social media followers, system size, number of years in business, number of years franchising and overall reputation — and looking at how they all combine to form lasting relationships with fans.

    Our list shows that great brands are a paradox. Longevity and consistency matter, but only if a brand also constantly evolves. A prime example is KFC, which tops our list. On the following pages, you can see how its recent “Re-Colonelization” efforts have paid off, and learn how other top franchise brands stay fresh while maintaining their already strong foundations.

    Please keep in mind that this list is not intended as a recommendation of any particular company. A vibrant brand is just one of many elements to consider when buying a franchise; it’s critical that you do due diligence before investing in any opportunity. Read the company’s legal documents, consult with an attorney and an accountant and talk to as many existing and former franchisees as you can.

    To learn who made the cut, check out our list of The Most Powerful Brands in Franchising.

     

    Source: entrepreneur.com

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  • Finding the Right First Partner Can Benefit You Over a Lifetime in Business

    There is no perfect playbook on how you should go about choosing a business partner. But there are some general guidelines that I find useful to consider.

    The best business decision I ever made was choosing my first business partner. Picking the right business partner straight out of the gate creates a relationship that will help you in business in perpetuity. When most people look for their first partner, they are thinking about who the perfect fit for their company would be at that time. But that’s shortsighted. The decision isn’t about a specific business. The decision is about who you are going to place into your life for one of the most important relationships you can have.

    I judge potential business partnerships by asking myself whether I could see this person in my life 20-plus years from now, and contemplate whether I can imagine us both still adding value to the other’s life.

    My first business partner defied normal convention. He was young, unproven and fresh out of college. Yet, I could see he was immensely talented and together we had that “X factor,” that undeniable synergy where we both brought out the best in each other. We ended up working through seven different companies together and he’s been my CFO, COO and CTO in three different types of ventures. Now he runs a private venture fund. Although we don’t work together anymore, we stay in close contact, co-invest in new ventures and turn to each other for advice when we need to tap the other’s areas of expertise.

    That’s why your first business partner is so important. If you are smart about it and have a little luck you’ll find someone that will positively impact your life and career many times over.

    There is no perfect playbook on how you should go about choosing a business partner. But there are some general guidelines that I find useful to consider.

    Make sure you know the person.

    This may seem like common sense, but lots of people enter into partnerships without really spending the time to know who they are getting into business with. The person may look good on paper and have extraordinary qualifications, but a partnership needs so much more than that. Remember, you’re not looking for a rockstar employee — you’re looking for someone that is going to be your other half. Many describe a business partnership as similar to marriage. While 50 percent of marriages end in divorce, that number jumps to nearly 80 percent for business partnerships.

    My partner and I worked together on a nonprofit that oversaw student conferences, which was a massive logistical and operational undertaking. We ended up setting up our own foundation to oversee the conferences and through our work together we were able to forge a bond before becoming partners.

    Don’t pick yourself.

    You should look for a business partner that complements you, not one that is a copy of you. If your strength is creativity, then you might look for someone who is more process-oriented. If you’re a master salesperson but business finance isn’t your strongpoint, maybe consider a partner who understands business accounting.

    People who are similar to you might feel like the more comfortable choice, but that’s not what you or the business needs to be successful. The wider variety of skills that you and your partner bring separately to the table, the easier it will be to propel the business forward.

    Look for vision and values.

    Since you and your partner will need to constantly set goals and make decisions to drive the business forward, it is extremely important that you are both trying to head in the same direction — that you share the same vision for the future. Every decision should be like two bricklayers laying brick by brick according to the blueprint, not going off and creating separate structures.

    You also want someone who holds the same values as you do because that’s necessary to build the type of trust needed for a successful partnership. You should look for someone you find to value honesty and truth, someone who follows sound business ethics and is just an overall good person in their personal life.

    Find someone fun.

    This may be one of the most important aspects. It’s that X factor I mentioned. You’re going to spend more time with this person than with your friends and family — even your spouse. Your relationship will be pressure-tested day in and out, and there needs to be that element of friendship and camaraderie you share with each other to make it through those challenging times and come out stronger.

    I couldn’t have asked for a better first business partner. Although I’ve provided a few recommendations, remember that for this type of decision it is really important to trust your gut and look for warning signs early on. Don’t settle for partnering with someone who you think will be good enough to do the job — look for someone who will be good enough to go through 10 different ventures over the next few decades with you.

     

    Source: entrepreneur.com

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  • If You’re Trying to Raise Money, Doing Any of These 9 Things May Scare off Investors

    Avoid these mistakes and funding could be yours.

    Most new and existing businesses can benefit from outside funding. With such funding, they can grow faster, launch new initiatives, gain competitive advantage and make better long-term decisions as they can think beyond short-term issues like making payroll.

    Unfortunately, though, most entrepreneurs and business owners make several mistakes that prevent them from raising capital. These mistakes are detailed below. Avoid them and funding could be yours.

     Making unrealistic market size claims

    Sophisticated investors need to understand how big your relevant market size is and if it’s feasible for you to eventually become a dominant market player.

    The key here is “relevant” and not just “market.” For example, if you create a medical device to cure foot pain, while your “market” is the trillion-dollar healthcare market, that is way too broad a definition.

    Rather, your relevant market can be more narrowly defined as not just the medical devices market but the market for medical devices for foot pain. In narrowing your scope, you can better determine the actual size of your market. For instance, you can determine the number of foot pain sufferers each year seeking medical attention and then multiply that by the price they might pay for your device.

    Failing to respect your competitors

    Oftentimes companies tell investors they have no competitors. This often scares investors as they think if there are no competitors, a market doesn’t really exist.

    Almost every business has either direct or indirect competitors. Direct competitors offer the same product or service to the same customers. Indirect competitors offer a similar product to the same customers, or the same product to different customers.

    For example, if you planned to open an Italian restaurant in a town that previously did not have one, you could correctly say that you don’t have any direct competitors. However, indirect competitors would include every other restaurant in town, supermarkets and other venues to purchase food.

    Likewise, don’t downplay your competitors. Saying that your competitors are universally terrible is rarely true; there’s always something they’re doing right that’s keeping them in business.

    Showing unrealistic financial projections

    Businesses take time to grow. Even companies like Facebook and Google, with amazing amounts of funding at their disposal, took years to grow to their current sizes. It takes time to build a team, improve brand awareness and scale your business. So, don’t expect your company to grow revenues exponentially out of the gate. Likewise, you will incur many expenses while growing your business for which you must account.

    As such, when building your financial projections, be sure to use reasonable revenue and cost assumptions. If not, you will frighten investors, or worse yet, raise funding and then fail since you run out of cash.

    Presenting investors with a novel — or a napkin

    While investors will want to meet you before funding your business, they will also require a business plan that explains your business opportunity and why it will be successful.

    Your business plan should not be a novel; investors don’t have time to wade through 100 pages to learn the keys to your success. Conversely, you can’t adequately answer investors’ key questions on the back of a napkin.

    A 15- to 25-page business plan is the optimum length to convey the required information to investors.

    Not understanding your metrics

    How much does it cost to acquire a customer? What is your expected lifetime customer value?

    While sometimes it’s impossible to understand these metrics when you launch your business, you must determine them as soon as possible.

    Without these metrics, you won’t know how much money to raise. For instance, if you hope to gain 1,000 customers this year, but don’t know the cost to acquire a customer, you won’t know how much money you need for sales and marketing.

    Likewise, understanding your metrics allows you and your team to work more effectively in setting and achieving growth goals.

    Acting like know-it-alls

    While investors want you to be an expert in your market, they don’t expect you to be an expert in everything. More so, most businesses must adapt to changing market conditions over time, and entrepreneurs who feel they know everything generally don’t fare well.

    A good investor has seen many investments fail and others become great successes. Such experiences have made them great advisors. They’ve encountered all types of situations and understand how to navigate them.

    If you’re seeking funding, acknowledge such investors’ experiences. Let them know that while you are an expert in your market, you will seek their ideas and advice in marketing, sales, hiring, product development and/or other areas needed to grow your business.

    Focusing too much on products and product features

    When raising funding, you need to show you’re building a great company and not just a great product or service. While a great product or service is often the cornerstone to a great company, without skills like sales, marketing, human resources, operations and financial management, you cannot thrive.

    Furthermore, if your product has a great feature, be sure to specify how you will create barriers to entry, such as via patent protection, so competitors can’t simply copy it.

    Exaggerating too much

    When you exaggerate to investors who know you’re exaggerating, you lose credibility.

    One key way to exaggerate is with your financial projections as discussed above. There are many other ways to exaggerate. For instance, saying you have the world’s leading authorities on the XYZ market is great, but only if they really are the world’s leading authorities.

    Likewise if you say it would take competitors three years to catch up on your technology, when investors ask others in your industry, they better confirm this time period. If not, your credibility and funding will be lost.

    Lacking focus

    What do investors care about? They care about getting a return on their investment. As such, anything you say that supports that will be welcomed.

    For instance, talk about your great product that has natural barriers to entry. Discuss your management team that is well-qualified to execute on the opportunity. Talk about strategic partners that will help you generate leads and sales faster.

    But, don’t go off on tangents that don’t specifically relate to how you earn investors returns, like the fact that you’re a great tennis player.

    Likewise, conveying too many ideas shows you lack focus. For instance, saying you’re going to launch product one next year, and then quickly launch products two, three and four, will frighten investors. Why? Because they’ll want to see product one be a massive success before you even consider launching something new.

    Investors have two scarce resources: their time and their money. Avoid the above mistakes when you spend time with investors, and hopefully they’ll reward you with their money.

     

    Source: entrepreneur.com

    Call, text, email, or stop by our Los Angeles HQ today!
    Helvetia Holdings Group, LLC
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  • Has Your Business Stopped Growing? Here’s How to Turn Things Around.

    There are four big reasons businesses stall out. It happened to me.

    Has your business ever stalled out and simply stopped growing?

    It happened to me. Early on in my career as an entrepreneur, I couldn’t figure out why everything stalled. But lucky for me, I didn’t quit there. I kept working, changed my business, and now — having worked with thousands of business owners — I have discovered that the primary reasons a business stops growing tend to land into a handful of categories.

    1. Lack of opportunity

    Some businesses just aren’t made to scale up. When I first started in the dry-cleaning delivery niche, I didn’t understand this simple fact: Business in my little area was never going to be a million-dollar business, let alone a multimillion-dollar business, no matter how hard I worked. Make sure you aren’t trying to win the Super Bowl with a peewee football team.

    On a side note, when I make this argument, sometimes people argue the point. For example, they may tell me I could have expanded into other areas or franchised. Of course, I’m not saying there aren’t ways to scale a business, but some businesses are simply easier and less risky to scale than others. If you are in an industry that is challenging to scale, one where your risk of failure is super high, it may be a good idea to start looking into other opportunities.

    2. Boredom

    It’s amazing how many of us get bored. We get bored with our marketing, with our product, with our niche. Our boredom causes us to cancel marketing, taking our eye off the main business to focus on some new exciting startup we want to work on.

    Want to sell and jump into a new exciting niche where every prospect only says yes and sales come easily? I get it. I’m not immune to those feelings. But, making changes because we are bored is insanity! If you have an ATM machine that spits out hundred-dollar bills, why would you try to rewire it? This is what people do with their marketing or when they take focus off the main cash cow business. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard someone say they are stopping what’s working because they want to try something new. It’s just crazy.

    3. People

    If you read the crap that comes from some marketers, you’d think that everyone was making money easily, using only the internet with no problems, no skills and no employees. While I do know people I could describe that way who are making money, this is the exception and not the rule. It would be like me pointing to a group of billionaires and selling thousands of products with the premise being: “Just buy this product and you too can be a billionaire.”

    In almost all businesses it takes employees (or at least outsourced labor) to grow. If you’ve stalled, it may be because you need to invest in another employee or two to kick-start the growth. I get it, when you invest in employees, payroll is bloated, short-term profits go down, and it is risky. But guess what? You’re a business owner — that’s the job. And 99.99 percent of businesses need employees to make money.

    4. Too externally focused

    As I write this, I’m in the middle of planning next year’s marketing strategy. I will have a number of new and exciting items on the list (external stuff), but one of the most interesting numbers I’m working on is a plan for our sales call conversion rate. With no increases in the number of calls next year, a 5 percent increase in conversion would equal an additional $1.152 milion in annual revenue. That is an internal number worth focusing on.

    I’ll also be looking at how to reduce customer churn, improve employee performance and increase referrals. Just focusing on internalopportunities, we have the potential to add millions in new revenue and/or cost reductions due to improved performance, which leads to increased margins. If you’re not thinking about ways to work on these internal opportunities, you’re leaving tons of new revenue and profit on the table.

    Growing a business isn’t easy, but it is pretty simple, assuming you have opportunity in the current business model. You just have to be willing to invest. Invest in yourself (your business education), and invest in your company by hiring the right people, focusing on improving your systems and process.

    We’ve talked about why businesses stop growing, and the first two points looked at those reasons, but the last two points could easily be turned around and used as the start of a growth strategy.

    • Who should you hire right now?
    • What internal challenges could you fix that would have an increase on profits?
    • Can you do a better job converting prospects into customers?
    • How are you doing on upsells?
    • What about referrals?
    • Do your customers know who you are, what you do, and that you’re still in business? If not, how are you going to change that?
    • What is the communication strategy for both prospects and customers?

    I could go on, but you get the point.

    The decision to grow (or not grow) is yours; you’re armed with the information. Now you just need to take action.

     

    Source: entrepreneur.com

    Call, text, email, or stop by our Los Angeles HQ today!
    Helvetia Holdings Group, LLC
    Wells Fargo (HQ) Building
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    United States of America

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  • Success Requires Knowing What You Won’t Compromise

    Flexibility and tolerance are important but know what you won’t bend on is crucial.

    People always ask we: “What are the keys to success in life and business?”

    I could talk for hours on the subject — particularly about what’s worked for me. But, truth is, all successful people answer a bit differently. That’s why, when I meet people like Elizabeth Weil, a dedicated distance runner and one of the most successful women in the venture capital field, I ask them the same question. I want to learn from them.

    Exercise

    As a child, Weil watched her mother take up running and swimming as therapy for a divorce. She’d wake up before dawn to get in a good swim or run — every day, no matter what. Morning exercise was non-negotiable. “She was out the door every morning around 4, because she knew that time of day was not going to be compromised by work or family or anything else,” Weil says today. “She could always get her workout in.”

    Today, Weil treats her run with the same reverence—even with three kids (including infant twins) and an incredibly demanding career. “For me,” she says, “running is a non-negotiable. Every job, every vacation, every business trip, I have my running shoes and I make time for it. Usually I get up very early, like my mother, and I just get it done. I feed one baby, I feed the other baby, and then I get out the door.”

    This doesn’t mean that life doesn’t occasionally happen in unexpected ways. “Things do come up, but I still get my running in.”

    It probably helps that Weil surrounds herself with like-minded people. “My husband is also an ultra-runner,” she says. “We joke that if going out to brunch was a non-negotiable, our relationship probably wouldn’t work.”

    The “how-to” of Weil’s success.

    When I asked Weil to boil her success down to a few takeaways, she answers immediately, which tells me that I’m talking to a person with a clear and well-defined plan for success. With Weil, these four elements underlie everything else:

    1. Create time for non-negotiables. “Along with my daily run,” she says, “another non-negotiable is spending time with my family, which is a lot harder now that I have three kids instead of just one.”
    2. Work with people you like. “Great people empower you and make you a better person,” she says.
    3. Live and work in a great location. “Life is too short to be in a place where you can’t do the things you like to do,” she says.
    4. Have a personal advisory board. “Fill it with people from all aspects of your life—an old college professor, an old colleague, your best friend, just people who know you really well,” she says. “You can check in with them and use them as part of your gut check as you go through life.”

    Work with great people.

    Working with great people, in a great location, and carving out time for non-negotiables are also parts of my long-standing recipe for success. However, Weil’s fourth element—having a personal advisory board—is a new one for me, and I’m going to put that into practice.

    Be a “people” person.

    Weil also talks about the fact that success in business is about more than just working your butt off. Admittedly, you need to work really, really hard in the job you’ve got if you want people to respect you and give you better opportunities. But you also need to be a people person.

    “I learned this the hard way because I didn’t make time for people when I was at Twitter,” she says. “I was so busy with my job there that I didn’t make connections for my next job. I tell people now, ‘When you pop up for your next job, you’ll wish you had gotten to know more people.’

    You won’t get a job just by uploading your résumé.

    You almost never get a job by uploading your résumé to a blind website. Jobs come from people you know, word of mouth, so you need to be good at your job and to also foster relationships.”

    The simple truth is that very few women are high-level decision makers at venture capital firms. Weil is one of only a handful. But it doesn’t surprise me at all that she has made it to the top when so many others haven’t, because she learned how to be successful early on from her mom.

    A life, business, and parenting tool.

    Another thing I take away from my conversation with Weil: Our kids watch us and they learn from what we do. We owe them the extra effort. My kids watch me with my non-negotiables, which for me are health and wellness and with the effort I put into my business and family.

    My kids learn what it takes to succeed without me sitting them down and lecturing them. I live the lesson, and that is a pretty awesome parenting tool.

    Source: entrepreneur.com

    Call, text, email, or stop by our Los Angeles HQ today!
    Helvetia Holdings Group, LLC
    Wells Fargo (HQ) Building
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    United States of America

    Phone: +1.310.800.2197
    info@www.p2pdevelopers.com
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  • The Many Ways You’re Marketing Even When You Don’t Even Know You Are

    The less your marketing resembles advertising the closer the connection you’ll make with your customers.

    Businesses work hard to create effective marketing campaigns, coming up with strategies carefully crafted to promote their brands both online and off.

    But whether you realize it or not, you can promote brand awareness even when you’re unaware of it. A company’s image starts with its leadership and spreads to its employees and the work they do.

    Here are some effective ways you build and grow brand awareness in ways you may not have considered.

    Merchandise

    If you’ve ever participated in a trade show or conference, you may have designed swag to distribute. Every T-shirt, tote bag, notepad, or pen you hand out goes toward building brand awareness. An old marketing rule states that a customer needs to see a message seven times before making a purchase decision. You don’t have to hand merchandise out to customers, though. You and your team members can wear and use products with your company logo whether you’re at a networking event, conference, or client meeting. Just some of the things that will help expose people to your brand include:

    Water Bottles: This is a product that is used constantly, and is an effective way to remind fans of your products. Brand a long lasting water bottle and you’ll be sure that it will be a good investment.

    T-shirts: Clothe your brand champions and they will promote you. Make t-shirts that people will love to wear and you’ll have walking billboards everywhere.

    Mugs: There’s nothing like fans looking at your logo every morning with their cup of Joe, and welcoming every day with your company.

    Live experiences.

    In person experiences are a fantastic way to engage with consumers – giving memorable time for new customers to learn about and interact with your brand. Companies like AnyRoad offer a powerful Experience Relationship Management platform that can help your brand leverage these live in-person branded experiences and gather data during the process.

    Tours: Tours and in-person experiences have become essential to winning over the hearts and affection of customers. Show them where your products are made, the birthplace of the company, or even the offices where all the magic happens. You’ll be sure to spawn word-of-mouth marketing and social shares, and fans will go home with a memorable story.

    Classes: Many businesses are always looking to learn as they grow. Teaching or sponsoring a class can also offer a beneficial marketing opportunity for business leaders. Whether you teach a class at your office, at a local university or learning annex, or through another source, you’ll be able to get the word out about the business you own as a part of the experience.

    Tastings and Samplings: For businesses that create and distribute consumables, taste testings and product samplings are the best way to win customers. Increasingly, food brands choose to set up a sample stand at local grocery stores or trade shows. Many customers get excited about free food and you can reach a large audience in one place.

    Companies like C.A. Courtesy specialize in setting up in-store samplings for brands of all sizes, putting their expertise to work in helping brands grow. If your brand has a kitchen, factory, or brand home, consider doing a tasting on-site to provide a much more immersive experience. All whiskey companies in the Kentucky Bourbon Trail offer tastings (with their tours) – letting fans sip their way through learning about bourbon.

    Workshops: Instead of committing to teach a regular class, your business can reap some of the same benefits by simply teaching a one-time workshop. Often these happen through industry-specific membership organizations or local networking opportunities. Even before you step up to the podium to kick off your presentation, you’re getting invaluable exposure for your business, since it will feature prominently in any marketing materials promoting the event.

    Events: Events provide solid networking opportunities, giving you the opportunity to interact directly with the very customers you’re trying to win over. Even if they don’t see personal value in the products or services you offer, chances are they’ll tell a friend or associate about it. In addition to local events and industry trade shows, consider hosting an event of your own. During the holiday season, you could have an open house to show appreciation to all your loyal customers. You could also host a day-long learning opportunity, inviting others in your industry to attend and learn more about the work you do.

    Networking: You may not put networking under the marketing category, but every interaction builds your brand. When you meet someone at a Chamber of Commerce luncheon and hand your business card across the table, you add yet one more person to those who know about your business. Over time, those connections lead you to other connections that help you move to the next level. Be aware of the many ways you represent your brand when you’re interacting with others, both personally and professionally, since even the clothing you wear and the things you say send a message about your business.

    As you interact with others and talk about your business, realize the many opportunities you have to get the word out. You’ll eventually discover new opportunities to meet customers and colleagues who can recommend your products or services to others. In the process, you’ll save time and money on marketing efforts, and be at the helm new pow.

     

    Source: entrepreneur.com

    Call, text, email, or stop by our Los Angeles HQ today!
    Helvetia Holdings Group, LLC
    Wells Fargo (HQ) Building
    11601 Wilshire Blvd. 5th Floor
    Los Angeles, CA, 90025
    United States of America

    Phone: +1.310.800.2197
    info@www.p2pdevelopers.com
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