Money isn’t the only reason to start or grow a business but you better believe it’s important. If your business isn’t making money, all you have is a nice hobby. There are a lot of activities you can do that seem like they will lead to income but they won’t. Successful entrepreneurs avoid the time wasters and focus on what will help their business grow.
There are four things you could do today — you could start right now if you’re not doing them — that could lead to more income in your business. These are simple but overlooked strategies that have withstood the test of time and technology. Your business can experience explosive growth with the right focus.
1. Sell more than makes you comfortable.
Chances are, you sell in your business. While you may know selling is important, you may not realize that you aren’t selling enough. The human brain can be a funny organ. Someone on your email list or involved in your ecosystem may need to see something as many as 37 times before it clicks in their brain.
While it feels like you are selling a lot, you probably aren’t selling enough. When you sell, you are bound to upset people — that’s okay. If you are consistently providing value for your audience, you have earned the right to tell them about your premium offerings. Sell more than you feel comfortable and you’ll see your income and business grow. Your audience wants to buy from you, they just need to know what you offer — tell them consistently.
2. Spend each day on income producing strategies.
Our natural inclination is to wake up and do what we feel is urgent. We check email, browse through social media and may even take calls. If you want to make more money now, start your day by doing things that lead to income. It could be crafting a well-written sales email to you email list, calling an old client and renewing their contract, or spending time selling to a lead who you know is ready to buy.
Start each day pursuing hot opportunities that require only a little work to close. You may not close a sale every day, but over time, you will close more and that will add to your bottom line. As this becomes a habit, you will be a well-oiled machine that knows how to spot opportunities.
3. Offer value that leads to building your email list.
Sales come when the customer sees that you know what you’re talking about and they have gotten value from you. Value is best delivered when what you provide is actionable in someone’s life. As you continually add value, you will build your email list and potential base of customers.
Spend more time on what you put out publicly. Your products, services, and information should separate you from your competition. They should have undeniable value because you’ve taken the proper time to make sure they do. Put this value out on your website, social media or wherever you advertise. Your email list will build offering you the opportunity to sell more. That will lead to more income.
4. Leverage massive exposure.
There are many fantastic chances for entrepreneurs today to get more visibility for their business. Social media has billions of users. Google AdWords, or SEO in general, can put your business in front of millions of potential customers. You can put out content on great websites, such as “Entrepreneur” and more, and get exposure to millions of people.
The Internet and social media have connected us and given us access to an almost limitless potential customer base. Leverage exposure for and in your business. Get your name and content in front of the larger audience and convert some of them into customers. Massive exposure will increase your bottom line dramatically and quickly.
If the growth or income has stalled in your business, these four things can help you right away. If you are doing just fine, use these to reach your next growth and income goals. There is a wealth of potential leads and income, for us as entrepreneurs, if we open our eyes and capitalize.
Building a business doesn’t happen overnight. You don’t build a business and then wait for it to grow. You start with a barely feasible idea and you nurture it, guiding it through several phases of evolution until it becomes almost unrecognizable. If you’re lucky, it will keep evolving until you start generating a substantial profit, and become stable enough to consider an exit strategy.
If you keep pressing, you’ll find that there are seven main “stages” of business ownership, each with its own challenges and opportunities. Learning more about these stages can help you plan for your business’s growth and give you key insights on which to build your organization.
The idea stage is a bit more than just coming up with the original idea for your business, though it is that as well. Once you’ve got some solid business idea, the remainder of this phase is spent putting together all the pieces of how, exactly, you can pull this off. That means creating a thorough business plan you can use as the blueprint for your business, working out all the kinks you didn’t think about when you came up with that initial spark, compensating for the competition you anticipate, and figuring out how you’re going to finance everything.
This phase marks the “official” start of your business, though you can still consider yourself an entrepreneur in the first phase. At this point, you’ll have all the resources you need to begin operations. You’ll find an office (if you need one), secure equipment (if you need it), and start looking for your first clients and customers. This is a hectic stage, but usually doesn’t carry any financial risks–you’ve secured enough funding to see you through this phase. The big problem lies in facing the first line of problems you didn’t anticipate in your business plan–and they will come up.
The next stage is probably the most volatile, because it’s a make-or-break point for your business plan. You’ll start to run out of your initial funding, but it’s still too early to have any manageable flow of revenue. You’re likely changing things in your business daily, so your structure is volatile, and all the while you’re scrambling to pick up enough clients to keep you afloat. Your business will either learn to adapt quickly or burn out in a flash–it’s up to you and your team to decide which. Adaptation is the key to surviving the “survival” stage, and it isn’t easy.
Though the process will be slow and gradual, eventually you’ll secure enough clients and revenue to pull yourself out of the survival phase. At this point, you’ll be able to float steadily, breaking even or making a profit on a predictable basis, and all your internal processes will start to stabilize. You’ll learn to count on your core team, your products will be consistent, and you’ll start to think that theoretically, your business could sustain itself forever–and if you let it, it just might. Some businesses stop at this phase and self-sustain indefinitely, and there’s nothing wrong with that unless you’re after something more.
The growth phase involves acceleration beyond your floating steady setup, and though it can happen naturally through word-of-mouth and high client retention, it’s more likely that you’ll instill this growth through some effort of your own. You can achieve this in a number of ways, usually involving heavy leaning on your sales and marketing teams. The more you promote your business, and the better job you do at retaining your existing customers, the better your chance at scaling your business upward. However, be aware that with growth comes volatility–growing too quickly or too slowly can put too much pressure on your resources.
Generally speaking, as your business reaches a certain point of growth, it’s going to need to change in some drastic way to continue growing, or even to survive. For example, it may need to split into different companies, or it may need to acquire a new company to help it in some key area. It may need to branch out into different locations, or it may need to adopt a new model for some of its central processes. This evolution will be difficult, as your business has been consistent for some time, but it’s necessary to keep moving forward.
Finally, at some point, you’ll reach the level you wanted to achieve, and it’ll be time for you to move on. That might mean selling the business, passing it to one of your team members or a family member, or simply retiring and letting someone else figure out what to do (though I don’t advise this).
Highly productive entrepreneurs aren’t necessarily special, but they are usually very driven and have unlocked the secrets to achieving their goals. When you know how to attack any objective with the right approach, you too can become unstoppable.
I’ve learned over my successful entrepreneurial experiences that good goal setting is easy to hypothesize about, but challenging to execute. As I figured out over the years how to go from making lists of goals to actually getting them accomplished, I learned a few steps that made the process of goal setting transformative.
Here are five simple steps for every entrepreneur to achieve any goal.
The vision of the goal has to start out big, and even a little vague, but then you have to turn that into several of what I call “something smaller” goals. This transforms a big lofty ambition into tent-pole moments along the path that you can achieve in smaller steps.
For example, wanting to improve your diet and increase physical activity are among the most common goals out there. I wouldn’t recommend suddenly going cold turkey on all your usual foods and going to the gym every day, but rather setting milestones along the road. Break the goals down into smaller lifestyle benchmarks, such as eliminating certain foods over the course of a month, then adding in more movement over the course of the following weeks.
By making small goal benchmarks to work toward, the goal becomes achievable overall because you made it actionable in smaller steps.
I always say a good goal is one that stretches you to the edge of your comfort zone, but not one that crosses over into fantasy. Everyone would love to make a million dollars this year, but if that’s not a number you can truly wrap your brain around, start with a number that stretches you but is believable.
If you are making $2,500 consistently a month, then could bumping the year-end goal to $10,000 a month actually be something you could believe? It doesn’t get you to a million this year, but it bumps your goal to something that’s believable for you and thus, feels more achievable. Once you get to year’s end and $10,000 a month feels comfortable and realistic, you can bump it again.
These smaller, realistic goals feed into the first step of breaking big ideas into smaller actions, too.
A great way to achieve any goal is to get the right support for your journey. You want to tell people who will be supportive and involved in your success. That has the benefit of bolstering you during times of challenge, but also when you verbalize your goals you tend to follow through better. You hold yourself more accountable to goals you’ve shared with others and that can help you reach them.
Breaking goals into smaller benchmarks helps to create action plans to smaller events that will eventually have a cumulative effect toward the big picture. This is a great tactic in terms of actions, but also a good tactic to help you put some metrics and measurement into the task.
If the goal is weight loss, then how much will you lose by each benchmark goal deadline you set? If it’s increasing your earnings, how can you track what you spend, what money is coming in and how you will generate more income through reducing your customer acquisition costs? Furthermore, how can you track your progress along the way to see how your overall goal is progressing against your small milestones?
As you meet your benchmarks, set up ways to celebrate or enjoy your victories. Make tracking the progress fun and meaningful. The more fun you can have along the way with your goals, the more successful you’ll be at achieving them.
The purpose of any goal isn’t just to achieve it, but often it’s to integrate it into your daily lifestyle, so learn to enjoy not just the destination but also the process of getting there.
If you’re fed up with your job, it may seem like there are only two steps to becoming an entrepreneur. The first is to quit your job, and the next step is to start a company. While it is possible to transition successfully from employee to entrepreneur, it’s a little more complex than that.
Here are the 12 steps you’ll need to take to become your own boss.
Some people call this finding your passion, but it’s more than that. Think about your skills, abilities and experience. Consider what you can realistically see yourself doing for hours each day, for weeks and years.
A viable business is the intersection between what you’d like to do and what others will pay for. Remember the “Jump to Conclusions Mat” from the movie Office Space? Todd loved building it, but no one was going to buy it. It wasn’t a viable business opportunity.
Find a few people that you think would be your ideal clients. Ask them about their biggest needs, fears and aspirations related to the business idea you plan to pursue. Are the benefits of your product or service in line with their real needs? Also, make a note of the words they use, as they’ll eventually help make your marketing more authentic.
Today’s marketing involves content creation, social media, email outreach and more. Make sure you know how you’ll approach each of these alternatives to introduce your idea to customers. At the same time, lay out a business plan that details how you intend your business to function. It doesn’t need to be super formal, but it does need to cover your operating structure, product, delivery systems and expansion plans.
If you can, test your company idea by launching on a small scale on the side, while still working your day job. This gives you a no-risk opportunity to test your ideas, get your first clients and see if the business will hold up over time before you leave the security of your current position.
Running a small-scale operation will help you determine which parts of your idea are great and which ones need adjusting. Take customer feedback seriously and make any necessary changes before you begin scaling up.
If your idea seems viable, determine who you’ll want on your business leadership team when you eventually launch full time. Depending on your personal experience, you may need help in areas such as finance, marketing, customer service and production.
For a small venture, this might mean saving up some money to get through the first few months or taking cash from your 401(k). If your aspirations are a bit larger, you may need to think about how to procure venture capital or other outside investment.
At the same time, you’ll also want to decide what kind of company structure to register. Do you want to incorporate, form an LLC or create a partnership? Get this taken care of legally and carefully define the roles and investment of each of your leadership team members.
When you’re ready, leave your day job. This may feel like an amazing relief after all the work you already put in, but trust me, more work awaits. Although it may be tempting, be sure not to burn any bridges as you leave — you never know when you’ll encounter former bosses and colleagues again, and you may need to work with them in the future.
With your full-time schedule now devoted to your business, set up a company budget. This should include payments for marketing expenses, salaries and other important purchases. Just be sure not to waste money on frivolous expenses!
Finally, all that’s left to do is to work the plans you’ve carefully laid out for yourself. Of course, that plan may change over time as you encounter and overcome obstacles. But, this is it — you’re a full-fledged entrepreneur. Congratulations!
As you can see, becoming an entrepreneur requires a lot of work before you even consider quitting your day job. However, if you follow each of the steps listed above and your idea still seems viable, you can leave your life as an employee and become an entrepreneur instead.
There are still many challenges you’ll face, but for most entrepreneurs, the benefits of meaningful work and self-direction are much more important.
The thought of networking at conferences and industry events makes some entrepreneurs nauseous. If you go into it feeling uncomfortable, your results will be disastrous. Networking is a major part of being a successful entrepreneur, so it’s in your best interest to get good at it — really, really good at it.
Here is a simple plan to make connections and unlock new opportunities by transforming into a networking beast.
You should have all of your goals identified before the event.
Reach out to the targets that you know will be attending in advance. Exchange contact details and stay in touch — plan to meet in the evening and belly up to the bar. Some of your most valuable connections will be born at the venue hotel bar.
Remember that you aren’t there to sell. Avoid rambling off the reasons why your product or service is the best. Instead, ask everyone whom you speak with if there is anything you can do to help their business. This unselfish approach will leave an impression that guarantees they will answer your phone call or email after the conference.
This strategy helps you set the table for a future discussion. Don’t forget to follow up with everyone — open up a dialogue within 72 hours of the event. This helps to ensure your encounter remains fresh in your new contact’s mind.
Establishing a half dozen meaningful connections is better than collecting 50 business cards from people you will more than likely never speak to again. Spitting out the same script-like spiel might get you a business card, but probably just to make you go away.
Take time to engage in conversations with the goal of making an impression — it’s that follow up after the networking event that’s important. Those are the conversations that lead to business deals and opportunities.
Nobody is going to remember interacting with you unless you are memorable. If you are at a conference make an effort to ask at least one question during the Q&A session following every keynote you attend.
Don’t just fire off a fluff question — you need to make sure your questions and interaction is intelligent. This is a great way to get on the radar of everyone in the room. People will approach you after looking to connect and they will even initiate the conversation. If you are memorable, you become a magnet, pulling in contacts from every direction.
It’s always easier to work a crowd when you have a wingman or wingwoman — it gives you that extra confidence and if you strategically select your networking partner you can make sure you are equipped with someone that makes up for your shortcomings.
For instance, if you are shy, partner up with someone that is very outgoing. Let them open up every conversation and then introduce you to bring it home and make that new connection.
You attend networking events and conferences to make connections, right? Then use this simple plan to make sure you make the most out of every event you attend.