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10 “Brick-In-The-Head” Moments You’ll Encounter as an Entrepreneur

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The entrepreneurial life is one of the most challenging, stressful and risky avenues to success you could possibly choose. The issue with doing it alone in business ventures is exactly that; you’re alone. To be a successful entrepreneur, you have to be driven, thick-skinned, and ready for any curve balls.

Here is a list of 10 ‘brick-in-the-head’ moments you’ll need to overcome on your path to becoming a market leader:

1. Letting criticism get to you

The ways society deals with ambition and success is very odd, and you may feel like you’re unfairly criticised by your peers regularly. The reality is that you’ll encounter plenty of jealousy and bitterness during the course of your career.

This isn’t to say that all criticism is malicious – constructive critique can go a long way. But remember that nobody understands your vision better than you. Remember that the art of good entrepreneurship is to delve where nobody else is willing to go.

When Bill Gates decided to offer his Internet Explorer browser as a free package with his Operating Systems in 1995, it was considered a counter-intuitive move by some, but ended up being the cornerstone for Microsoft’s resounding dominance.

2. The temptation of ignoring constructive criticism

While it’s worth adopting a thick skin to allow unjust criticism to bounce off of you, it’s also important to know when to take it on board and consider constructive comments. As you’re taking the leap into controlling your own business, sometimes it can become too easy to concentrate on the nuances of your work and miss the bigger picture. Take the time to consider advice that you are offered – if it fits in with your vision, then it may be worth taking.

3. Keeping on top of your cash flow

Making sure you’re focused on your finances is one of the biggest parts of being an entrepreneur – after all, it’s all about making money.

If you’re worried about your cash flow, then it’s probably a good sign. All entrepreneurs struggle with money at times in their careers – and so if you don’t keep an eye on your figures then you risk showing signs of complacency. If your figures are really getting to you, then it might be a good idea to skim through your finances and start saving cents here and there.

4. Facing the unknown

One of the most anxiety-inducing moments is being kept up all night wondering which way your venture’s going to go. Entrepreneurship is a volatile career, and coming to terms with the unknown is a big part of the life that comes with it.

Prevention is better than a cure when it comes to dealing with the uncertainty of building businesses. Try to manage your resources well – it could save a lot of worrying a little bit further down the line.

“Many times, the thought of fear itself is greater than what it is we fear.” – Idowu Koyenikan

5. Abandoning your previous career or education

Often the first step on your path to success can be the most difficult and stressful. You could be leaving a comfortable job, or abandoning your studies to go and pursue an idea that, no matter how good, is not guaranteed success.

Here it’s once again advisable to make sure only you have the final word on the route you take in life. Be sure to listen to the advice that those close to you have to offer but just remember that the choice is yours.

6. Time management

Difficulties with time management can be a big cause of stress when setting up your own business.

The most stressful aspect of this could be that you neglect other parts of your life in order to oversee the successful running of the company.

Juggling your time is perhaps the primary problem that is faced by entrepreneurs. You have to make sure you focus on your output, marketing and networking all at the same time, which can get overwhelming.

Here, the best remedy is to keep records of your tasks and goals using available tools. One should set rotas of where to invest their time and attention over the course of a coming week. It might not seem like much, but it could lift a heavy burden off of your head.

7. Making the right decisions

As an entrepreneur, the significance of the decisions you make could mean life or death for your business. This burden can weigh you down heavily. Remember the very best in the industry make the wrong decisions, and many of the greatest entrepreneurs today have gotten into the position they’re in through trial and error.

The markets are often volatile, and extraneous circumstances which could never be accounted for can come into play. One must find a way of coping with the process of making company defining decisions, and once you’ve become confident enough to take big decisions in your stride, you’ll be well on the way to industry success.

8. Staying true to your vision

Things have a habit of changing very quickly in business. You’ll need to adapt to the ever-shifting sands and stay true to your vision. Sometimes this is easier said than done. Construct a mission statement for your business that you can refer back to in order to hold on to the reason you decided to pursue your idea in the first place. Sometimes seeing what you’re working towards written down can be enough to keep you focused on your goals.

“You have to understand your own personal DNA. Don’t do things because I do them or Steve Jobs or Mark Cuban tried it. You need to know your personal brand and stay true to it.” – Gary Vaynerchuk

9. Team building

Here it’s important to recruit not only the most skilled candidate but the candidate that’ll best fit into your vision for the office culture. Sometimes finding a confident and engaging candidate is a critical factor in recruiting for a job that requires plenty of teamwork and client interaction. The best course of action for lowering the stress of team building is to look for candidates that express themselves in a way that fits the business work ethic best.

10. Dealing with failure

Virtually every entrepreneur has to face the prospect of failure at multiple points in their career. The best way to avoid becoming bogged down by an unsuccessful business is to see it as an exercise in trial and error. Learn from your mistakes, and if your startup has failed, what caused it to fail?

Welcome failure as a valuable learning tool, and jump back into the industry you desire to improve. Improve your original idea or find another one because the life of a successful entrepreneur is built on plenty of experiences and lessons – many of which were learnt the hard way.

What other encounters have you had as an entrepreneur? Comment Below!

Vladimir Yakimenko is a CEO, Investor and Founder of Kanbanchi, a popular project management add-on for G Suite. Kanbanchi is one of the fastest growing add-ons for G Suite and has over 80,000 active users. Our work has been featured on Today.com, Lifehacker, Lifehack and more.

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  1. Shane

    Jan 17, 2018 at 11:03 pm

    This is an excellent list. I think time management is a biggie. Sometimes I have to pull myself away from business to focus on other areas of my life.

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Entrepreneurs

The 4 Difficult Lessons Every Successful Entrepreneur Must Learn

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Successful entrepreneurs are born learners, but often they focus on the wrong lessons. Yes, learning about financing, staff management, selling, marketing, product innovation, decision-making and risk taking are vital. However, there are other lessons that are just as important to the future of your business.

Learn these four lessons, really embed them into your psyche, and you’ll be in great shape to build a successful, sustainable business:

1. It’s essential to pivot

Startup businesses often go off like a rocket. You invest your money in building a top-line product or service, putting together a fantastic team, and making sure the design of your website and marketing material is just right. You invest so much time in this before you launch that you forget about sales and demand. You launch – and, well, all those customers you thought would be knocking down your door aren’t there. It’s a struggle to get through your first year in business.

Growing a business is all about product-market fit – matching up your offering with what customers actually want, ideally at a price that is profitable and appealing to the customer. The important lesson is that while every entrepreneur is passionate about their sector, very few can hit product-market fit first time. Don’t beat yourself up. Instead of getting frustrated about customers not buying from you, ask them why they aren’t. Then take what you’ve learnt and pivot in a new direction.

2. Process geeks are cool

I’ve worked with many brilliant and inspiring entrepreneurs. Some have gone on to build international businesses and others have foundered. What separates them? The truly successful ones all have one thing in common: scratch the surface and they’re process geeks.

Successful entrepreneurs enjoy the detail, they love separating each job into separate actions, seeing where they can make efficiencies and freeing up the bottlenecks. Every element of their business has a written process with clearly defined steps.   

If you’re a visionary, and most entrepreneurs are, the actual nitty gritty process of your business probably leaves you cold. You’re focused driving sales, bringing in new clients and building relationships. It’s the bigger picture all the way for you. Nonetheless, if you don’t put proper processes in place, your business will fail in the long run, no matter how many sales you’ve made or how big your client roster.  

“Details create the big picture.” – Sanford I. Weill

3. Hiring people smarter than you is clever

Everyone knows this one, right? The problem here is that though we all know it, we very often forget it. I’ve seen lots of entrepreneurs fall at this hurdle with sometimes catastrophic results. The reasons for this are very clear to me because some entrepreneurs are control freaks. They are big, extrovert personalities, and they have to be the top dog in the workplace. That means when it comes to hiring, though they think they’re focused on going for smart people, they’re actually choosing people who won’t threaten their ego. Hiring for a startup is difficult – there is no doubt.

Successful entrepreneurs know and understand themselves. They know their strengths and their personal weaknesses. Driven, go-getting extravert founders can be incredibly successful, but they need to surround themselves with people who are unafraid to challenge them. Otherwise, what you end up with later down the line is a business full of yes-men. Smart, yes-men, maybe, but still people who will go along with any mad idea you might have at 4 o’clock in the morning.

The best way to ensure this doesn’t happen to you is to get a second opinion from people you trust, even people outside the business or let your team interview the person, not you. Clearly this plan isn’t foolproof, because if you’ve already built a business full of yes-men they’re just going to pick someone like them. Nonetheless, nine times out of 10 you’ll end up with a new team member who’s not going to be afraid to tell you when you’re being an idiot.

4. All entrepreneurs are afraid – it’s normal

Every entrepreneur has sleepless nights. All startup founders worry that their business is going to go bust tomorrow. All entrepreneurs think they’re going to get found out. This is perfectly normal, and absolutely nothing to worry about. In fact, it’s all part of building a highly successful business. The trick is to ensure that it doesn’t start to impair your judgement or your health.

We’ve all heard stories of entrepreneurs who only sleep four hours per night, and work 80 hour weeks for years and years on end. While some do, most come to the correct conclusion after a few months that if they and their team must work 80 hours per week, they don’t have a viable business. The effects are more harmful than you might expect. Getting a good night’s sleep will calm you down.

“Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance, you must keep moving.” – Albert Einstein

If your business is sustainable and you’ve just got into a cycle of fear that’s driving you to work ridiculous hours, then stop. Look again at your product-market fit and processes, hire some people smarter than you who will tell you you’re an idiot and go on holiday. Yes, one of those things where you leave the office and don’t come back for at least a week. Holidays are definitely not for wimps.

Successful entrepreneurs understand that it’s the big lessons that count. They are the portable life lessons that will carry you through the tough times ahead. If you can really nail these four lessons, you’ll not only be in great shape but you’ll be ahead of many of your fellow entrepreneurs.  

Which one of these four lessons do you need to implement most in your life? Let us know in the comments below!

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Qualities Of A Brilliant Salesperson Who Actually Closes Deals.

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I’ve spent the last ten years analyzing sales people and what separates the good, from the uninspiring, worn out, no good sales person that is toxic to any sales culture.

I’ve also worked in sales for a long time myself. These qualities are what have worked for many other high performing sales people I’ve worked with and me.

Here are the qualities of a brilliant salesperson:

 

They’re humble as F*#K.

They’re not the person trying to tear everyone else down.
They don’t think they’re the best.
They want to train the junior sales people.
They aspire to be a leader.

Humble salespeople do all of these things because they know that if they didn’t have access to those same tools, they’d never be where they are. Bragging is ugly and eventually, it will reflect in your sales performance.

No salesperson is ever going to be on top of the leaderboard forever.

That’s why it pays to be humble in sales.

 

They get that relationship is everything.

If someone doesn’t like you, they probably aren’t buying from you. We all buy from people we like.

A relationship with a client is built with the following tools:

– Respect
– Vulnerability
– And Rapport

If you nail those three tools, then you’ll have a genuine relationship with the client. A relationship is another word for trust. Once you’re trusted, you’ll get all the business.

“All the snake oil salesman in the world can’t take a client from you when you are the most trusted sales person they are dealing with”

 

They worship the power of referrals.

The religion of a salesperson who knows their craft is one word: referrals.

Referrals come from doing a good job and delivering on what you say you will. That quality is so rare and that’s why many salespeople don’t get referrals. If you want to compound your results, you must do your best to over deliver.

This doesn’t mean underselling so that you can deliver what the client actually paid for; over delivering is delivering more value than should normally be expected from the same product or service in the marketplace.

 

They have gone all in on social media.

Everyone Google’s everyone nowadays.

“If a customer Googles you and you appear nowhere, then you become a commodity. Unfortunately, that translates to a heavy bias towards price”

When someone looks you up, they should see a professional social media profile like LinkedIn, they should see at the very least some content from you about your industry, and some reviews or references from people you’ve previously sold too.

A strong social media presence allows brilliant salespeople to have warm prospects approach them rather than having to go looking for them. A brilliant salesperson can turn a “Hi, how are you Tim Bob?” into a “Yes let’s meet next week for coffee to discuss X business opportunity.”

 

They take the complex and make it simple.

That’s why we fell in love with Apple. They took hundreds of menus and turned them into a few beautiful app icons. Life is complex enough and a brilliant salesperson can help us take a load off by giving advice to us in easy to understand language.

This method of communication requires the “less is more approach,” no acronyms, no industry jargon and a step-by-step process that can easily be followed.

 

They tailor to the audience.

Corporate pitch? Better put a suit on.
Seeing a new, cool, funky startup? Probably best to wear a t-shirt and take a backpack.
First-time users of the product or service? Stick to the why and 2-3 useful takeaways.

 

They capture your attention.

Not by using PowerPoint decks, closing techniques and fancy catch phrases: by using their infectious personality and sense that they care about the needs of the customer.

 

They avoid overthinking.

It’s easy to procrastinate in sales and try and predict every move that a customer will make. In the end, the client will use mostly emotion to make a decision. Quit trying to overthink the outcome of a business opportunity and focus on going all in.

Give it everything you have and then if you lose the sale, it’s all gravy. Move on to the next business opportunity.

 

They make actual decisions.

Sales is hard which is why there are incentives. If it were easy, we’d all have the job title of “sales.”
Sales requires many consecutive and challenging decisions one after another. You have to convince not only the customer, but also the internal stakeholders such as the product and operational areas.

This process is a series of lots of small decisions that match the urgency of your customer. If you take too long, you lose the sale. If you overpromise, you’ll burn the client. If you don’t offer a competitive price, they may go elsewhere.

All of these are decisions and brilliant salespeople make them daily, and do so efficiently.

 

They always use deadlines.

Without a date to work too, we all get lost in the busy trap. Either you become too busy or the client does. This is not about hard sell techniques or fake offers that expire. If you can genuinely help your client, then you should want them to have that benefit as quickly as possible.

 

They are aware of their ego.

Ego is the enemy. If you think you’re some hot shot sales person, your prospective clients will run. Too much confidence and an inflated ego are usually a mask of a salesperson who’s covering something up. In other words, someone who lies for a living.

Humbleness, kindness and humility are how a brilliant salesperson attracts customers. Too much ego does the opposite.

 

They use discipline to their advantage.

As I said, sales is hard work. To be good at it, you need to be disciplined.

You can’t help everyone.
You only have so much time to prospect.
You have to make the calls, respond to emails and see clients to make target.

If you don’t do the basics, you can’t be a brilliant salesperson. Kobe Bryant put in the hours to become a great basketballer. He went to the gym, did the practice shots and ran until he passed out. Phone calls, emails and prospecting meetings are the exercises used in the sales world.

The more you do the exercises and stick to the plan, the closer you’ll get to Kobe’s success in the basketball world. We’re lazy by nature though, so discipline is key in sales.

 

They listen.

Too many salespeople talk your head off but don’t actually listen. Listening in sales is how you understand the customer and deliver a message that will allow them to make a buying decision. You’ll learn more from listening than talking. Phenomenal salespeople recognize this.

If you want to increase your productivity and learn some more valuable life hacks, then join my private mailing list on timdenning.net

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4 Important Life Lessons You Can Learn From Billionaire Jim Koch

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Jim Koch is an American entrepreneur, author and a passionate beer lover who left his lucrative business in Wall Street to start his own beer company, Boston Beer, from scratch and make it among the most successful brands in the US market with an annual revenue of around $1 billion. I have read a few books about Koch, including his book, Quench Your Own Thirst: Business Lessons Learned Over a Beer or Two, and below are four lessons I believe you should learn from Koch`s thrilling life.

1. Do what you love

Koch had a business and law degree from Harvard and had a lucrative, high-paying job, yet he wasn’t happy. When he thought about the whole situation, he realized that consulting wasn’t what he wanted to do for the rest of his life. So he quit after spending five years at a consulting group in Boston and went to do what he loved best; manufacturing and selling beer.

“Getting rich is life’s biggest booby trap. It comes down to what would you rather be, happy or rich? I say do what’s gonna make you happy.” – Jim Koch

2. Career wanderings aren’t bad

If you still can’t find your calling or have wasted a couple of years working on something you later found out  doesn`t fit you, don`t worry. Koch`s career path wasn`t linear. He began his adulthood life deciding to be in the beer business. In fact, he was encouraged not to do so by his father whose net income in the last six months of his brewing career was less than $500.

Koch found his calling at the age of 34 and believes he wouldn’t have made it without his many career wanderings, including working as an outward bound instructor and spending three and a half years mountaineering across America.

One of the lessons he learned from that job is that you never climb a mountain to get to the middle. You either aim for the top or don`t climb at all. With this lesson in mind, Koch intended to make The Boston Beer Company the biggest high-end beer in America, and now his net worth is over $1 billion.

3. When there’s a will, there’s a way

When he launched his first product, Koch`s best idea was to hire someone to sell it for him because, though he knew a lot about brewing and the law, he wasn’t a good salesman. Unfortunately, none of the five Boston-based wholesalers agreed to represent him thinking the market wasn’t ready for an expensive American beer.

So he got himself a wholesaler license, leased a truck and hovered around Boston cold-calling bars. They liked his beer, and the wholesaler`s cut went into his pocket.

“The values you want to live have to come from your own living heart. You have to be the best model of those values. You have to push yourself to the highest possible standard, because it’s not reasonable to expect anybody else to have a higher standard than you do as a leader.” – Jim Koch

4. Monday may never come

One Friday morning, a friend left a message with Koch`s secretary that he would call him on Monday. Unfortunately, that man didn’t make it and died of a heart attack on Sunday. So Koch asked for that message to be framed and hung on his office wall to remind him that Monday doesn’t always come. The lesson here is simple; life is short and whatever you have on your plate do it ASAP, if not now.

One of the things you must do, according to Koch, is start collecting experiences as quickly as possible. If you’re in your twenties or thirties, the best question to ask yourself is “What experiences will I regret not having ten years from now?” Write them down, make a plan and a deadline and use necessity and pressure to force yourself to take action because you probably won’t have enough time or freedom to do many things once you start a career, get married, and have a family.

Life is also short relationship-wise. You don’t know when your loved ones will go. A parent, a friend, or that cheerful old lady who greets you every time you meet on the streets. One day, one of you will leave, and you don’t know whether you`ll ever have a goodbye moment together.

So make it a habit each day of calling somebody you haven’t seen in years or make sure your friends or parents are okay. It will make both of you feel good, and when that inevitable moment comes, you won’t have many regrets.

What is something you have learned from Jim Koch? Comment below!

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These 10 Steps Will Help Any Entrepreneur Get Their Game Right

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You followed your heart. You turned your passion into your mission. Your fear of regret superseded your fear of going for it. You’ve worked hard, but the success you desire didn’t arrive on schedule. You’ve had achievements, followed gurus, and kept your dream alive through sheer tenacity and a determination not to return to the hamster wheel from which you jumped.

You’re exhilarated at the thought of being your own boss, working alongside your dog, and not punching a time clock. What you may not have known about entrepreneurship is that, like raising kids, there are ups and downs, overwhelm and excitement, pain and joy. You’ll think you’re doing it wrong most of the time, while secretly hoping you’re getting some of it right. You’ll want to quit. To all those statements, I can say, me too.

Here’s 10 ways to change your game and get it right:

1. Refine and release your product offering

Your business isn’t just about what you’re selling and what problem it’s solving. Focus on what gives your life meaning and how what your offering represents that. You’re selling your story, not your product or service.  And, if you’re stuck in the pondering, refining, revising, rewriting, or redesigning stage, move forward. Get a good, not perfect, product out there. Rinse and repeat. Done is better than perfect unless you’re engineering heart valves or knee replacements.

2. Build your brand from your heart, not your head

If no one knows who you are, where to find you or what you do, they can’t buy from you.  A legitimate problem but easily solvable. The step that matters most to your bottom line, however, is incorporating bits of your journey and soul, not just your expertise. Focus on being resonant. A great brand builds relationships and relationships are why buyers choose you over and over.

3. Determine if you have a fear of failure, a fear of success or both

You are probably clear on fear of failure- the hesitancy that comes with the fact that what you’re doing might not work out and could be painful to you and your bank account. What you may be less familiar with is a fear of success, that can be equally paralyzing because you have deep-seated worries about how your life will change if your business really takes off.

You might be disappointed that you haven’t reached your goals, but you are comfortable with the familiarity of how your life is now. Fear of success is released the same way as fear of failure. Ask yourself three questions. What’s the worst that can happen if I’m successful? Can I handle it? And, what’s the best that can happen? Then choose comfortable and familiar or success.

“Fears are educated into us, and can, if we wish, be educated out.” – Karl Augustus Menninger

4. Hustle

When you link your service to your story, you can easily talk to everyone all the time about what you do without sounding coercive or salesy.  If you want to be successful, you have to be the mayor. Fake being outgoing until you’re outgoing. You may have held back because hustling sounds icky. You may also have mistakenly thought you were hustling when you weren’t!

If you work all the time but aren’t getting where you want to go, you may be doing more of what’s comfortable rather than what works. Give your inner badass entrepreneur a hustler nickname and embrace that part of you that knows you’re in business to make money as well as making the planet a better place.

5. Focus on what you don’t do well but desperately need

If you’re spending all your time becoming more of an expert at what you do, chasing more credentials and living in the comfort zone, but you’re neglecting marketing, strategic planning, competitive analysis or some other part of your business, success will continue to elude you. Instead of listening to Ted talks and reading journal articles in your field, focus on the major players in business like Tim Ferriss, Tony Robbins, and Gary Vaynerchuk and everyone they interview.

6. Focus on the small goals on the way to the big dream

I love dreaming big, like focusing on becoming a NY Times best-selling author. That goal is definitely on my vision board but so is to finish writing the book and get it published. That’s a simple example but overlooking consistent, focused small steps while affirming the big goal will not get you where you want to go. Don’t focus on a net income of $2 million when, immediately, you need to focus on making enough money to keep you out of a day job.

“Discipline is the bridge between goals and accomplishment.” – Jim Rohn

7. Make “I can” your new motto. Banish “I can’t” from your vocabulary

It’s rarely true anyway. You can say: I don’t know how, I’m working on it, and I need to figure it out, which all imply that there is a solution to be had. I can’t is final and permits you to quit. I can, not only psychologically primes your brain to find a solution, it switches your thoughts from a fixed to a growth mindset.

8. Ask for help

It’s easy to slip into excuses, like “everyone’s busy”, “you have to pay people to help you” and “why would so and so want to help me”.  It’s a risk to ask for assistance. However, wishing, wanting and hoping what you need magically appears succeeds far less often than asking for it. The answer will either be a yes or a no, and either is ok. Don’t take it personally. As Jack Canfield says, every no brings you closer to a yes. Be sure to show or tell them why they want to help you and offer to assist them in return.

9. Know your role models

Don’t reinvent the wheel because wheels exist. Find who’s doing what you want to do, be and have. Study them, contact them, and do what they did. For work, life and relationships- know your role models. And keep it in perspective. Your big goal may be that your mentors become your friends but you need them to be your mentors first.

10. Enlist a support team

You need your cheerleaders and tough lovers. These are people who will provide unbiased support- celebrating the victories, cheering you through the difficulties and asking the tough questions that help you win big. They brainstorm solutions and provide much-needed connection for the SOULpreneur.

Most of success is mental, not mechanics, but these steps cover both, require no financial investment, and you can start on them today. As mega fitness superstar, Shaun T says, “Let’s goooo!”

What gets you excited? Comment below!

Image courtesy of Twenty20.com

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If You’re Looking for Success, Here Are 5 Ways to Find It

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What do people want when they talk about being successful? Some of us might want things such as a yacht, private island, or a jet. Others want to feel like they belong and have great relationships with their family and loved ones. (more…)

McVal Osborne is the author of Start Up your Life: Why we don’t know what we want, and how to set goals that really matter. McVal writes about motivation, decision making, and strategic thinking. He graduated from UC Santa Barbara in 2011 with a degree in Spanish, and has since worked as a market researcher and business consultant in Washington D.C., New York City and London. You can reach him on Twitter @mcval or on IG @mcvaliant.

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  1. Shane

    Jan 17, 2018 at 11:03 pm

    This is an excellent list. I think time management is a biggie. Sometimes I have to pull myself away from business to focus on other areas of my life.

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Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

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The 4 Difficult Lessons Every Successful Entrepreneur Must Learn

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Successful entrepreneurs are born learners, but often they focus on the wrong lessons. Yes, learning about financing, staff management, selling, marketing, product innovation, decision-making and risk taking are vital. However, there are other lessons that are just as important to the future of your business.

Learn these four lessons, really embed them into your psyche, and you’ll be in great shape to build a successful, sustainable business:

1. It’s essential to pivot

Startup businesses often go off like a rocket. You invest your money in building a top-line product or service, putting together a fantastic team, and making sure the design of your website and marketing material is just right. You invest so much time in this before you launch that you forget about sales and demand. You launch – and, well, all those customers you thought would be knocking down your door aren’t there. It’s a struggle to get through your first year in business.

Growing a business is all about product-market fit – matching up your offering with what customers actually want, ideally at a price that is profitable and appealing to the customer. The important lesson is that while every entrepreneur is passionate about their sector, very few can hit product-market fit first time. Don’t beat yourself up. Instead of getting frustrated about customers not buying from you, ask them why they aren’t. Then take what you’ve learnt and pivot in a new direction.

2. Process geeks are cool

I’ve worked with many brilliant and inspiring entrepreneurs. Some have gone on to build international businesses and others have foundered. What separates them? The truly successful ones all have one thing in common: scratch the surface and they’re process geeks.

Successful entrepreneurs enjoy the detail, they love separating each job into separate actions, seeing where they can make efficiencies and freeing up the bottlenecks. Every element of their business has a written process with clearly defined steps.   

If you’re a visionary, and most entrepreneurs are, the actual nitty gritty process of your business probably leaves you cold. You’re focused driving sales, bringing in new clients and building relationships. It’s the bigger picture all the way for you. Nonetheless, if you don’t put proper processes in place, your business will fail in the long run, no matter how many sales you’ve made or how big your client roster.  

“Details create the big picture.” – Sanford I. Weill

3. Hiring people smarter than you is clever

Everyone knows this one, right? The problem here is that though we all know it, we very often forget it. I’ve seen lots of entrepreneurs fall at this hurdle with sometimes catastrophic results. The reasons for this are very clear to me because some entrepreneurs are control freaks. They are big, extrovert personalities, and they have to be the top dog in the workplace. That means when it comes to hiring, though they think they’re focused on going for smart people, they’re actually choosing people who won’t threaten their ego. Hiring for a startup is difficult – there is no doubt.

Successful entrepreneurs know and understand themselves. They know their strengths and their personal weaknesses. Driven, go-getting extravert founders can be incredibly successful, but they need to surround themselves with people who are unafraid to challenge them. Otherwise, what you end up with later down the line is a business full of yes-men. Smart, yes-men, maybe, but still people who will go along with any mad idea you might have at 4 o’clock in the morning.

The best way to ensure this doesn’t happen to you is to get a second opinion from people you trust, even people outside the business or let your team interview the person, not you. Clearly this plan isn’t foolproof, because if you’ve already built a business full of yes-men they’re just going to pick someone like them. Nonetheless, nine times out of 10 you’ll end up with a new team member who’s not going to be afraid to tell you when you’re being an idiot.

4. All entrepreneurs are afraid – it’s normal

Every entrepreneur has sleepless nights. All startup founders worry that their business is going to go bust tomorrow. All entrepreneurs think they’re going to get found out. This is perfectly normal, and absolutely nothing to worry about. In fact, it’s all part of building a highly successful business. The trick is to ensure that it doesn’t start to impair your judgement or your health.

We’ve all heard stories of entrepreneurs who only sleep four hours per night, and work 80 hour weeks for years and years on end. While some do, most come to the correct conclusion after a few months that if they and their team must work 80 hours per week, they don’t have a viable business. The effects are more harmful than you might expect. Getting a good night’s sleep will calm you down.

“Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance, you must keep moving.” – Albert Einstein

If your business is sustainable and you’ve just got into a cycle of fear that’s driving you to work ridiculous hours, then stop. Look again at your product-market fit and processes, hire some people smarter than you who will tell you you’re an idiot and go on holiday. Yes, one of those things where you leave the office and don’t come back for at least a week. Holidays are definitely not for wimps.

Successful entrepreneurs understand that it’s the big lessons that count. They are the portable life lessons that will carry you through the tough times ahead. If you can really nail these four lessons, you’ll not only be in great shape but you’ll be ahead of many of your fellow entrepreneurs.  

Which one of these four lessons do you need to implement most in your life? Let us know in the comments below!

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Entrepreneurs

Qualities Of A Brilliant Salesperson Who Actually Closes Deals.

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I’ve spent the last ten years analyzing sales people and what separates the good, from the uninspiring, worn out, no good sales person that is toxic to any sales culture.

I’ve also worked in sales for a long time myself. These qualities are what have worked for many other high performing sales people I’ve worked with and me.

Here are the qualities of a brilliant salesperson:

 

They’re humble as F*#K.

They’re not the person trying to tear everyone else down.
They don’t think they’re the best.
They want to train the junior sales people.
They aspire to be a leader.

Humble salespeople do all of these things because they know that if they didn’t have access to those same tools, they’d never be where they are. Bragging is ugly and eventually, it will reflect in your sales performance.

No salesperson is ever going to be on top of the leaderboard forever.

That’s why it pays to be humble in sales.

 

They get that relationship is everything.

If someone doesn’t like you, they probably aren’t buying from you. We all buy from people we like.

A relationship with a client is built with the following tools:

– Respect
– Vulnerability
– And Rapport

If you nail those three tools, then you’ll have a genuine relationship with the client. A relationship is another word for trust. Once you’re trusted, you’ll get all the business.

“All the snake oil salesman in the world can’t take a client from you when you are the most trusted sales person they are dealing with”

 

They worship the power of referrals.

The religion of a salesperson who knows their craft is one word: referrals.

Referrals come from doing a good job and delivering on what you say you will. That quality is so rare and that’s why many salespeople don’t get referrals. If you want to compound your results, you must do your best to over deliver.

This doesn’t mean underselling so that you can deliver what the client actually paid for; over delivering is delivering more value than should normally be expected from the same product or service in the marketplace.

 

They have gone all in on social media.

Everyone Google’s everyone nowadays.

“If a customer Googles you and you appear nowhere, then you become a commodity. Unfortunately, that translates to a heavy bias towards price”

When someone looks you up, they should see a professional social media profile like LinkedIn, they should see at the very least some content from you about your industry, and some reviews or references from people you’ve previously sold too.

A strong social media presence allows brilliant salespeople to have warm prospects approach them rather than having to go looking for them. A brilliant salesperson can turn a “Hi, how are you Tim Bob?” into a “Yes let’s meet next week for coffee to discuss X business opportunity.”

 

They take the complex and make it simple.

That’s why we fell in love with Apple. They took hundreds of menus and turned them into a few beautiful app icons. Life is complex enough and a brilliant salesperson can help us take a load off by giving advice to us in easy to understand language.

This method of communication requires the “less is more approach,” no acronyms, no industry jargon and a step-by-step process that can easily be followed.

 

They tailor to the audience.

Corporate pitch? Better put a suit on.
Seeing a new, cool, funky startup? Probably best to wear a t-shirt and take a backpack.
First-time users of the product or service? Stick to the why and 2-3 useful takeaways.

 

They capture your attention.

Not by using PowerPoint decks, closing techniques and fancy catch phrases: by using their infectious personality and sense that they care about the needs of the customer.

 

They avoid overthinking.

It’s easy to procrastinate in sales and try and predict every move that a customer will make. In the end, the client will use mostly emotion to make a decision. Quit trying to overthink the outcome of a business opportunity and focus on going all in.

Give it everything you have and then if you lose the sale, it’s all gravy. Move on to the next business opportunity.

 

They make actual decisions.

Sales is hard which is why there are incentives. If it were easy, we’d all have the job title of “sales.”
Sales requires many consecutive and challenging decisions one after another. You have to convince not only the customer, but also the internal stakeholders such as the product and operational areas.

This process is a series of lots of small decisions that match the urgency of your customer. If you take too long, you lose the sale. If you overpromise, you’ll burn the client. If you don’t offer a competitive price, they may go elsewhere.

All of these are decisions and brilliant salespeople make them daily, and do so efficiently.

 

They always use deadlines.

Without a date to work too, we all get lost in the busy trap. Either you become too busy or the client does. This is not about hard sell techniques or fake offers that expire. If you can genuinely help your client, then you should want them to have that benefit as quickly as possible.

 

They are aware of their ego.

Ego is the enemy. If you think you’re some hot shot sales person, your prospective clients will run. Too much confidence and an inflated ego are usually a mask of a salesperson who’s covering something up. In other words, someone who lies for a living.

Humbleness, kindness and humility are how a brilliant salesperson attracts customers. Too much ego does the opposite.

 

They use discipline to their advantage.

As I said, sales is hard work. To be good at it, you need to be disciplined.

You can’t help everyone.
You only have so much time to prospect.
You have to make the calls, respond to emails and see clients to make target.

If you don’t do the basics, you can’t be a brilliant salesperson. Kobe Bryant put in the hours to become a great basketballer. He went to the gym, did the practice shots and ran until he passed out. Phone calls, emails and prospecting meetings are the exercises used in the sales world.

The more you do the exercises and stick to the plan, the closer you’ll get to Kobe’s success in the basketball world. We’re lazy by nature though, so discipline is key in sales.

 

They listen.

Too many salespeople talk your head off but don’t actually listen. Listening in sales is how you understand the customer and deliver a message that will allow them to make a buying decision. You’ll learn more from listening than talking. Phenomenal salespeople recognize this.

If you want to increase your productivity and learn some more valuable life hacks, then join my private mailing list on timdenning.net

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Entrepreneurs

4 Important Life Lessons You Can Learn From Billionaire Jim Koch

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Jim Koch is an American entrepreneur, author and a passionate beer lover who left his lucrative business in Wall Street to start his own beer company, Boston Beer, from scratch and make it among the most successful brands in the US market with an annual revenue of around $1 billion. I have read a few books about Koch, including his book, Quench Your Own Thirst: Business Lessons Learned Over a Beer or Two, and below are four lessons I believe you should learn from Koch`s thrilling life.

1. Do what you love

Koch had a business and law degree from Harvard and had a lucrative, high-paying job, yet he wasn’t happy. When he thought about the whole situation, he realized that consulting wasn’t what he wanted to do for the rest of his life. So he quit after spending five years at a consulting group in Boston and went to do what he loved best; manufacturing and selling beer.

“Getting rich is life’s biggest booby trap. It comes down to what would you rather be, happy or rich? I say do what’s gonna make you happy.” – Jim Koch

2. Career wanderings aren’t bad

If you still can’t find your calling or have wasted a couple of years working on something you later found out  doesn`t fit you, don`t worry. Koch`s career path wasn`t linear. He began his adulthood life deciding to be in the beer business. In fact, he was encouraged not to do so by his father whose net income in the last six months of his brewing career was less than $500.

Koch found his calling at the age of 34 and believes he wouldn’t have made it without his many career wanderings, including working as an outward bound instructor and spending three and a half years mountaineering across America.

One of the lessons he learned from that job is that you never climb a mountain to get to the middle. You either aim for the top or don`t climb at all. With this lesson in mind, Koch intended to make The Boston Beer Company the biggest high-end beer in America, and now his net worth is over $1 billion.

3. When there’s a will, there’s a way

When he launched his first product, Koch`s best idea was to hire someone to sell it for him because, though he knew a lot about brewing and the law, he wasn’t a good salesman. Unfortunately, none of the five Boston-based wholesalers agreed to represent him thinking the market wasn’t ready for an expensive American beer.

So he got himself a wholesaler license, leased a truck and hovered around Boston cold-calling bars. They liked his beer, and the wholesaler`s cut went into his pocket.

“The values you want to live have to come from your own living heart. You have to be the best model of those values. You have to push yourself to the highest possible standard, because it’s not reasonable to expect anybody else to have a higher standard than you do as a leader.” – Jim Koch

4. Monday may never come

One Friday morning, a friend left a message with Koch`s secretary that he would call him on Monday. Unfortunately, that man didn’t make it and died of a heart attack on Sunday. So Koch asked for that message to be framed and hung on his office wall to remind him that Monday doesn’t always come. The lesson here is simple; life is short and whatever you have on your plate do it ASAP, if not now.

One of the things you must do, according to Koch, is start collecting experiences as quickly as possible. If you’re in your twenties or thirties, the best question to ask yourself is “What experiences will I regret not having ten years from now?” Write them down, make a plan and a deadline and use necessity and pressure to force yourself to take action because you probably won’t have enough time or freedom to do many things once you start a career, get married, and have a family.

Life is also short relationship-wise. You don’t know when your loved ones will go. A parent, a friend, or that cheerful old lady who greets you every time you meet on the streets. One day, one of you will leave, and you don’t know whether you`ll ever have a goodbye moment together.

So make it a habit each day of calling somebody you haven’t seen in years or make sure your friends or parents are okay. It will make both of you feel good, and when that inevitable moment comes, you won’t have many regrets.

What is something you have learned from Jim Koch? Comment below!

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These 10 Steps Will Help Any Entrepreneur Get Their Game Right

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You followed your heart. You turned your passion into your mission. Your fear of regret superseded your fear of going for it. You’ve worked hard, but the success you desire didn’t arrive on schedule. You’ve had achievements, followed gurus, and kept your dream alive through sheer tenacity and a determination not to return to the hamster wheel from which you jumped.

You’re exhilarated at the thought of being your own boss, working alongside your dog, and not punching a time clock. What you may not have known about entrepreneurship is that, like raising kids, there are ups and downs, overwhelm and excitement, pain and joy. You’ll think you’re doing it wrong most of the time, while secretly hoping you’re getting some of it right. You’ll want to quit. To all those statements, I can say, me too.

Here’s 10 ways to change your game and get it right:

1. Refine and release your product offering

Your business isn’t just about what you’re selling and what problem it’s solving. Focus on what gives your life meaning and how what your offering represents that. You’re selling your story, not your product or service.  And, if you’re stuck in the pondering, refining, revising, rewriting, or redesigning stage, move forward. Get a good, not perfect, product out there. Rinse and repeat. Done is better than perfect unless you’re engineering heart valves or knee replacements.

2. Build your brand from your heart, not your head

If no one knows who you are, where to find you or what you do, they can’t buy from you.  A legitimate problem but easily solvable. The step that matters most to your bottom line, however, is incorporating bits of your journey and soul, not just your expertise. Focus on being resonant. A great brand builds relationships and relationships are why buyers choose you over and over.

3. Determine if you have a fear of failure, a fear of success or both

You are probably clear on fear of failure- the hesitancy that comes with the fact that what you’re doing might not work out and could be painful to you and your bank account. What you may be less familiar with is a fear of success, that can be equally paralyzing because you have deep-seated worries about how your life will change if your business really takes off.

You might be disappointed that you haven’t reached your goals, but you are comfortable with the familiarity of how your life is now. Fear of success is released the same way as fear of failure. Ask yourself three questions. What’s the worst that can happen if I’m successful? Can I handle it? And, what’s the best that can happen? Then choose comfortable and familiar or success.

“Fears are educated into us, and can, if we wish, be educated out.” – Karl Augustus Menninger

4. Hustle

When you link your service to your story, you can easily talk to everyone all the time about what you do without sounding coercive or salesy.  If you want to be successful, you have to be the mayor. Fake being outgoing until you’re outgoing. You may have held back because hustling sounds icky. You may also have mistakenly thought you were hustling when you weren’t!

If you work all the time but aren’t getting where you want to go, you may be doing more of what’s comfortable rather than what works. Give your inner badass entrepreneur a hustler nickname and embrace that part of you that knows you’re in business to make money as well as making the planet a better place.

5. Focus on what you don’t do well but desperately need

If you’re spending all your time becoming more of an expert at what you do, chasing more credentials and living in the comfort zone, but you’re neglecting marketing, strategic planning, competitive analysis or some other part of your business, success will continue to elude you. Instead of listening to Ted talks and reading journal articles in your field, focus on the major players in business like Tim Ferriss, Tony Robbins, and Gary Vaynerchuk and everyone they interview.

6. Focus on the small goals on the way to the big dream

I love dreaming big, like focusing on becoming a NY Times best-selling author. That goal is definitely on my vision board but so is to finish writing the book and get it published. That’s a simple example but overlooking consistent, focused small steps while affirming the big goal will not get you where you want to go. Don’t focus on a net income of $2 million when, immediately, you need to focus on making enough money to keep you out of a day job.

“Discipline is the bridge between goals and accomplishment.” – Jim Rohn

7. Make “I can” your new motto. Banish “I can’t” from your vocabulary

It’s rarely true anyway. You can say: I don’t know how, I’m working on it, and I need to figure it out, which all imply that there is a solution to be had. I can’t is final and permits you to quit. I can, not only psychologically primes your brain to find a solution, it switches your thoughts from a fixed to a growth mindset.

8. Ask for help

It’s easy to slip into excuses, like “everyone’s busy”, “you have to pay people to help you” and “why would so and so want to help me”.  It’s a risk to ask for assistance. However, wishing, wanting and hoping what you need magically appears succeeds far less often than asking for it. The answer will either be a yes or a no, and either is ok. Don’t take it personally. As Jack Canfield says, every no brings you closer to a yes. Be sure to show or tell them why they want to help you and offer to assist them in return.

9. Know your role models

Don’t reinvent the wheel because wheels exist. Find who’s doing what you want to do, be and have. Study them, contact them, and do what they did. For work, life and relationships- know your role models. And keep it in perspective. Your big goal may be that your mentors become your friends but you need them to be your mentors first.

10. Enlist a support team

You need your cheerleaders and tough lovers. These are people who will provide unbiased support- celebrating the victories, cheering you through the difficulties and asking the tough questions that help you win big. They brainstorm solutions and provide much-needed connection for the SOULpreneur.

Most of success is mental, not mechanics, but these steps cover both, require no financial investment, and you can start on them today. As mega fitness superstar, Shaun T says, “Let’s goooo!”

What gets you excited? Comment below!

Image courtesy of Twenty20.com

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