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4 Reasons Entrepreneurs Should Make Traveling a Priority

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When I decided to leave my full-time job and start my own business in 2015, I knew that it would be a decision that would stretch, challenge, and test me to see how mercilessly I really wanted this. There are certain things that are expected when taking that leap. I knew that I was going to have to work hard.

I knew that I was going to have to network 24/7. It wasn’t a rude awakening when I discovered the huge learning curve that I would experience as I transitioned from employer to entrepreneur, but nobody ever told me the importance of traveling if I wanted to make tremendous strides as an entrepreneur.

Entrepreneurs need to explore. My thinking had to expand if I wanted to be a relevant business leader and connect with others that I didn’t see on a daily basis. You can’t be stuck in a cubicle mindset and expect to soar like an eagle; you have to think beyond what you already know in order to make meaningful progress.

“To travel is to take a journey into yourself.” – Danny Kaye

I decided to pack my bags and travel around the world on a 6-month performance and service tour with an international non-profit organization called Up with People, where I had the chance of networking with influential leaders from all over the world and deliver over 100 hours of service by volunteering at schools and community organizations. Every experience that I took on that was beyond my comfort zone was preparing me to be a socially-conscious entrepreneur.

Travel instills important lessons and strengthens skills that directly translate to effectiveness as an entrepreneur. In order to maximize your travel experience, you need to be able to integrate the experiences you have had into your business goals and activities. Traveling is a strategic business investment that will take you further than any class will; nothing compares to real life experiential learning.

Ready to step up your game as an entrepreneur? Here are four reasons that traveling should be on every entrepreneur’s to-do list:

1. It will teach you how to be flexible and take risks

I can’t count the number of times my plans changed or I had to adapt to new environments when traveling the world. It’s easy to get frustrated when things don’t go as planned, but when this becomes the norm, you learn how to make the most of what you have at your disposal.

Entrepreneurship is one big experiment that is filled with uncertainties. This is definitely a skill to cultivate if you want to be a successful business person. The entrepreneur who is able to quickly adapt to changes and take advantage of opportunities that don’t have a guaranteed outcome will win.

 

2. You open your mind to more possibilities

Going to places you have never experienced before seems to open your mind to new possibilities; you can have great “aha” moments if you get out of your routine environment. You only know what you have exposed yourself to. Just imagine what would happen if you expose yourself to new ways of doing business, new people, new cultural traditions, new food, and new ways of living.

You get outside of your business box and receive creative inspiration that can help you create innovative solutions. And the world needs more ways of thinking that don’t adhere to traditional standards in order to continue to evolve.

“Move out of your comfort zone. You can only grow if you are willing to feel awkward and uncomfortable when you try something new.” –Brian Tracy

3. Build connections with people who are not like you

Diversity of thoughts and ideas is what helps businesses continue to be successful. Your interactions will lead to valuable insights. First, you understand what it takes to build a diverse consumer market. You also gain opportunities to work with foreign clients, to sell to foreign markets, and to outsource work to foreign employees in other countries.

Entrepreneurs who take the extra step to learn a new language strengthen their ability to connect with others and are better prepared for the way in which business is developing worldwide.

 

4. You will increase your awareness of global challenges

Exploring the problems that people face on a daily basis may lead to valuable opportunities for your business.  Business is all about adding value; if you are always adding value, you will always be in demand.

These new experiences can provide you with new ways of adding value to different markets around the world. You don’t just want to think locally⎯go deeper. How can your products services help the world?

Being an entrepreneur takes work. People who decide to pursue this path give up 40 hours of structured work responsibilities to put in 80+ hours of non-stop work. But when you see people in other countries working non-stop to make a living as an entrepreneur, you question your own work ethic. Once you start traveling, the ideas will keep unfolding and your impact as an entrepreneur will be amplified.

What skills have you gained from traveling around the world? What skills do you hope to develop? Please leave your thoughts in the comment section below!

After 7 years of working in Corporate America as a Certified Public Accountant, Charlene left her job in April 2015 and decided to travel around the world with a non-profit international education organization called Up with People. She has traveled around the world with 100 individuals from 20 different countries. You can visit her www.careergoddessacademy.com or connect with her through Twitter.

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18 Comments

18 Comments

  1. Brickwork India

    Aug 9, 2016 at 9:34 am

    Hi Charlene,
    A great read!, as mentioned in your 4th point, Travel helps in understanding how people manage problems and how you can add value to it. To complement this view, Travel also teaches you to handle uncertainties and gives the exposure on how others manage uncertainties in their lives.

    • Charlene Rhinehart

      Aug 11, 2016 at 9:29 am

      Hi Brickwork,
      Thanks for your feedback! Great point. Traveling shows you how others manage uncertainties in their lives. This is valuable information to have at your disposal when you are learning to interact with different kinds of people.

  2. Tim Denning

    Aug 8, 2016 at 1:05 am

    Charlene this is another great article by you on travel. I love your passion for travel and the benefits you can get from it. I am about to have a holiday in the USA and it gives me the motivation I need to work though long days.

    • Charlene Rhinehart

      Aug 10, 2016 at 9:33 am

      Thanks for reading, Tim! I can only imagine the number of ideas that will unfold as you take advantage of new experiences in the U.S. Enjoy every moment! I look forward to reading more of your articles.

  3. Kenyatta

    Aug 5, 2016 at 8:49 pm

    Great Article! Reminds me of my Costa Rica trip, that I had the pleasure to travel to in High School. At first I was nervous because I am not fluent in Spanish and didn’t know much about the culture. But I learned alot during my time there. I agree with all four points in this article and I must say many employers are impressed and want to learn more about the person’s experience. Very impressive Charlene , continue to encourage people to step outside of their comfort zone.

    • Charlene Rhinehart

      Aug 7, 2016 at 7:21 am

      Hi Kenyatta, Thanks for sharing! That’s amazing that you had the opportunity to travel to Costa Rica in High School. Traveling broadens your perspectives and instantly opens you up to more possibilities. I think more individuals should travel while they are in high school because there is more to the world beyond the U.S.A. People who only stay in their country only see a tiny piece of the puzzle that has so many beautiful pieces. I’m glad to hear that you did not let your lack of Spanish communication skills hinder you from this travel opportunity. Keep traveling and stretching the limits of your comfort zone, Kenyatta!

  4. Toño

    Aug 5, 2016 at 2:51 pm

    An excellent article as you continue to guide us through the ultimate importance of travelling, Charlene! I really like to read about such topic and enjoyed this one as well. I can safely confirm all the cool and crazy things happened to me while being away from home, even not so far, which led to making huge decisions in my life.

    Please continue to share your experience and advice, thank you very much, much appreciation and love!

    • Charlene Rhinehart

      Aug 7, 2016 at 7:31 am

      Thanks for sharing, Toño! I agree. Life is an exhilarating journey. Traveling allows us to tap into more of that excitement and I am so glad that you have had the opportunity to experience that. Traveling comes with one unexpected result for most people: your life as you know it will change.

      Thanks for your support and encouragement! Much appreciated!

  5. Mercedes

    Aug 5, 2016 at 3:52 am

    I am all for taking risk and I think I might take that leap and start traveling after college. I love being around a diverse group of people because I feel as though I learn so much. #4 is something I am very interested in the most , when meeting people from a different race. Thanks for sharing your up with people experience, I know it had to be fun. I love reading your articles, keep up the good work!

    • Charlene Rhinehart

      Aug 7, 2016 at 7:25 am

      Thanks Mercedes! Traveling is such a rewarding opportunity that exposes you to more of the world and gives you opportunities to discover who you are and what you really want. If you have the opportunity to take advantage of a short term travel opportunity while in college, I highly recommend it. There are many scholarships available to individuals who want to travel in college. Thanks for reading and for sharing! Wishing you the best on your last year of college!

  6. Jasminé

    Aug 4, 2016 at 10:12 pm

    Feeling motivated to be an entrepreneur and explore my talents after reading your article. Thanks for the advice, I think that it is a good idea to travel to different countries and states. Being able to see a different site and meet new people is a great experience. Continue to write inspiring articles with awesome advice!

    • Charlene Rhinehart

      Aug 7, 2016 at 7:35 am

      Thanks for sharing, Jasmine! Traveling comes with so many unexpected benefits. Entrepreneurs can really use their travel experiences to supercharge their impact and performance in their business. You can also learn a new language and increase the amount of people that you can communicate with from all over the world. Wishing you the best on your travel and entrepreneurial journey!

  7. Bryan Oliver

    Aug 4, 2016 at 9:12 pm

    Great article, Charlene. Really like #3. Building connections with those that are not like you is so important. The synergies that can be create can take you to a level you’d never reach on your own. Enjoyed it. Thank you.

    • Charlene Rhinehart

      Aug 5, 2016 at 2:12 am

      Thanks Bryan! A diverse network produces an expanded mindset that will take your life to levels that you could never reach on your own. Thanks for sharing!

  8. Alex Reyes

    Aug 4, 2016 at 6:18 pm

    I think one of the biggest benefits is the number 2. Opening yourself to new possibilities also helps you become more creative than what you could ever experience before.

    Even a short trip to another part of the country can show you how different people can be.

    • Charlene Rhinehart

      Aug 5, 2016 at 2:14 am

      Very true! Any experience that takes you outside of your comfort zone can expose you to new possibilities and ways of living. Thanks for sharing, Alex!

  9. Glenn Mace

    Aug 4, 2016 at 2:24 pm

    Great read very important for everyone to go outside the box. Experience brings wealth. #MLux

    • Charlene Rhinehart

      Aug 5, 2016 at 2:15 am

      Great point, Glenn! Experience brings a wealth of information, resources, and connections that can create profitable results in your business. Thanks for sharing!

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Entrepreneurs

The 5 Step Framework Every Business Owner Should Be Following

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Every new business owner wants to gain business, yet most do not have the right perception on how to gain business the right way. Oftentimes, our ego prevents us from fostering the proper relationships that will allow us to build a strong foundation that we can grow on. You need to drop your ego and provide value first.

In this article I will share a 5-step framework that you can replicate in your own life and business in order to gain your first clients and then grow with those clients as you scale to a 6 or 7-figure business.

The biggest pitfall with new business owners is that they over-price themselves because they are thinking short-term instead of realizing that the delayed gratification and long-term perspective is what they need to grow the business that they envision.

For example, David Zhao, serial entrepreneur and rising millennial leader, is a great example of someone who started from nothing and has built a networth of over $10 million dollars at the age of 23 by dropping his ego and providing value first, for less.

Here’s the secret that no one is telling you:Work for free. Execute. Get case studies. Leverage case studies for new business referrals. Then charge full price. Most people do not tell you that it’s okay to work for free early on because they do not understand the long-term perspective of business.

You are not going to work for free forever

When you are just starting out you NEED to get wins under your belt and there is no better way to do this than by providing value to your ideal customer for less than your normal price. Think long term and realize how much more money you can bring in once you’ve successfully helped your first clients.

For example, when David Zhao started his business between the ages of 15-17, he helped his teachers and local clinics with their websites. In fact, his first client was his Orthodontist whom he only charged $200 dollars for a website that could have easily been worth 5x that amount.

David continued to create websites for small to medium-sized businesses and leveraged his Chinese roots to connect with Chinese business owners who were not great at speaking English because he realized he could provide a lot of value to these people.

You need to identify who you can provide the most value to. Once you identify them you can approach them with an offer that makes sense.

You’ll see immediate growth and traction in your business by implementing this 5-step framework:

1. Give first

Find someone in your niche and in your hot/warm market because the cold market is too distant with no foundation. Focus on Win-Win situations. In this case, doing work for cheaper allows you to build your credibility and get some wins under your belt.

2. Build relationships

Do not be greedy early on because that distracts you from the mission of completing the work so that you can gain a new client. David used this principle to raise his first investment fund of $5 million dollars.

For example, for the first couple of investors in his fund he did not charge any management fees. Other people may have charged a management fee + 20% – 30%, but instead David charged less in order to provide more value and get himself the opportunity.

Because his bigger goal is to raise a $100 million fund, this initial $5 million fund is just a stepping stone. What are the stepping stones you need to take to get where you want to go? Do not prevent yourself from getting the opportunity by overcharging. Think about what you are willing to give.

“I believe that you can get everything in life you want if you will just help enough other people get what they want.” – Zig Ziglar

3. Execute on your product or service

Executing and providing great work is the most important part of the equation. If you don’t execute then there is no way you can build relationships and scale. Trust is built once you complete the things you say you can do. Your reputation is built around your work. Be open-minded with no ego and always ask for feedback.

Remember, you are leveraging these early clients to close higher ticket clients later on. Therefore, it’s in your benefit to ask for as much feedback as possible to ensure they have the best experience that you can leverage for new business later on. Always underpromise and overdeliver. Become so useful that you will get paid your full value later.

4. Gain referrals and case studies

After you’ve executed, it’s time to turn the experience into a case study and ask for a referral. Simply asking goes a long way. David was able to use this strategy to become one of the first members in Yelp’s marketing partnership program. Initially, David offered his time for free to build Yelp’s partnership program. He would go in to help the team for 20-30 hours a week, for free.

During this time he met the COO and Regional Account Executive and built a relationship with them. Obviously, these people are usually pretty difficult to get in contact with, yet because David provided value first, he was able to get passed any gatekeepers and build a direct relationship with them. His 7-figure digital marketing agency, NXT Factor, became the first NY agency partner of Yelp. Now he has spent $1 million+ in ad spend for his clients by wholesaling Yelp marketing.

“One customer, well taken care of, could be more valuable than $10,000 worth of advertising.”  – Jim Rohn

5. Use case studies to gain new credibility and leverage for new business

After you see success, you need to have a plan on how to use the case study to attract new business. Most business owners think that referrals just come. This is not true.

As Dan Kennedy and Shaun Buck state in their book “No B.S. Guide to Maximum Referrals and Customer Retention”, you need to have this system set in place. David has been able to leverage his past successes with his early clients to work with brands like Google, Apple, PayPal, Amex, Visa, Blade, and JetSmarter.

Using this framework will bring you new business and allow you to scale to the next level. Stop making things harder for yourself by seeing things short-term and instead change to a long-term perspective in your business. Give more than you take and focus on building relationships. Execute on your work and use the case studies to attract new business and referrals. You can do it.

How can this 5 step framework help your business in becoming more successful? Let us know in the comments below!

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4 Things All Healthy Entrepreneurial Businesses Have in Common

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All healthy businesses are profitable, but all profitable businesses are not healthy. Health is the #1 thing to strive for when running and operating a business, especially when you’re building it from scratch as a “solopreneur.”

The particular reason for it being this way is because as soon as you are, you will have a better cash flow, more satisfied clients and customers, better relationships with co-workers, a more performance-based culture and most importantly, you are happier.

The business landscape and the fast-paced environments we work in gives you and your business only one guarantee- continuous change. Therefore, it is vital that you measure the performance of your business on a regular basis, knowing your KPI, and continually readapting to the new set of rules produced by technology and other variables. To not only survive, but thrive in your business, it is first and foremost essential for it to be healthy.

Here are the 4 things that all healthy business have in common:

1. A hot product/service

Is there a demand or a need for what you have to sell? By the way, this is a question you should have asked yourself before you even started your venture! Gary Halbert talks about going into a market that has demonstrated to be starving (or at least hungry) for your product or service. That said, it is essential to understand that a healthy business, no matter the economic situation, will still make sales.

People will spend money on your product or service if there is a substantial need for it. As long as you solve peoples’ or businesses’ problems and reduce their pain points, you have created a solid foundation of a healthy business through your core offer.

“I think we’re having fun. I think our customers really like our products. And we’re always trying to do better.” – Steve Jobs

2. Having a pipeline in place

What does it mean having a pipeline in place? It’s asking the question: Can you consistently bring in new business, whenever you need and want it? Do you have a reliable system in place that can be automated to generate new clients and customers for your product/service that can be turned on and off with a push of a button?

Healthy things typically attract attention, however, before you can tell someone how good your product or service is, you need your prospects’ attention.

There are several ways to do that; Conner Burt outlines a few good tricks. For a business to be flourishing, you are not allowed under any circumstances to base your decisions upon fear, scarcity, or emotional desperation like many entrepreneurs do. Instead, what you’d rather want is to make your decisions out of abundance and a position of power.

A growing business that scales at large has a pipeline and unless you want to get stuck, start putting a system in place. Using gained forward momentum is the single most powerful strategy for growth.

A common misconception amongst entrepreneurs is not to grow too fast, but there is no such thing if you’re well prepared and have a system in place.

3. Cash reserves

Every healthy business has cash reserves. Looking at all the successful companies that are unicorns in their respected market like Southwest, Uber, and Tesla. They all have cash (admittedly- a ton of it).

However, the point being, it just makes sense to be able to rely on liquid assets when the market crashes, shifts or a recession period comes along. Building up your war chest for the bad times will be a reason for not going bankrupt.

In fact, Southwest was the only airline during 9/11 who didn’t suffer a significant loss money wise and didn’t lay off employees. Why? Because they had 3.6 Billion Dollars in cash sitting around.

Cash reserves are directly correlated to your pipeline since it won’t make any difference to have money on hand if you don’t have the required skill set to grow your previously mentioned pipeline.

“All days are not same. Save for a rainy day. When you don’t work, savings will work for you.” M.K. Soni

4. A vision for other people

Business is about other people, never about yourself. The ability to grow relies on your vision you deploy for other people. What do you provide for other people? It has to be more than money, right? Every healthy business has resistance and challenges. Being healthy doesn’t mean you never struggle with anything.

Being healthy means that you are equipped to deal with the struggle and grow through it, and this requires a vision for other people that is way bigger than yourself.

Having a vision that goes beyond yourself and being authentic, doing what’s right for the prospect or client over doing what is best for you and your business will ultimately determine your business’s health.

Building a healthy business as an entrepreneur is tough when being unprepared. Knowing what will keep you on track, primarily through growth and scaling periods helps you build up sustainably, without the fear of a free fall to rock bottom.

Share with us a little about your business and if there’s anything we can do to help you grow. Comment below!

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3 Ways to Set a Productive Schedule as an Entrepreneur

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Working as an entrepreneur means being your own boss. You get to make your business plan, hire the right team for your vision, and set your own hours. It also means that you are fully responsible for your successes and failures. While the benefits are incredibly tempting, not everyone is cut out to be an entrepreneur. Your success relies hugely on your ability to stay accountable to yourself and your customers.

How do you succeed as an entrepreneur? By setting a strict schedule and respecting it, day in and day out. You need to show up for yourself consistently, otherwise, you’re not going to be able to handle the daily pressures of running your own business.

Here are 3 ways to set a schedule that will inspire and re-energize you:

1. Set aside a space for work

This might not be an initial high priority, but if you’re working from home, you absolutely need a separate office space. It might be tempting to just set up shop at your kitchen table or couch to save some time. The Wall Street Journal reports that 80% of young professionals work from their beds most of the time. This, however, will result in compromised productivity.  

When you do this, your bedroom stops being a place of rest and becomes a place of work. This will ruin both the quality of your work and the quality of your sleep, which is crucial for wellbeing. Dedicate a space that’s solely for work, even if it’s just a simple desk. Entrepreneurs suffer from high levels of stress, and organization is key to getting your small business off the ground.

If your living space is just too small, get out of the house! Sure, you could hit up the traditional coffee shop or even your local library, but maybe you’re looking for something with some more structure. Consider a coworking space. A recent study shows that people in coworking spaces reported high levels of work satisfaction, much higher than those working in a traditional office space.

Utilizing a coworking space will let you interact with others, get out of your house, and dedicate a space to work. Even better, you’ll be able to leave your work at the “office” and enjoy your home.

“Entrepreneurs have a great ability to create change, be flexible, build companies and cultivate the kind of work environment in which they want to work.” – Tory Burch

2. Try out a few different schedules

You’ve got a lot of freedom as an entrepreneur, but you need to leverage it to your best advantage. The good news is that you can use your peak hours of productivity. It doesn’t matter if you’re an early riser or a night owl, whenever you’re feeling the most inspired is when you can crank out your ideas and content.

You can’t forget entirely about normal business hours; you’ll need to reach contacts and schedule meetings during the 9 to 5 grind. Arrange your day around those non-negotiable meetings, and use the time you have left over to get your work done. Fortunately, you can use off hours to get errands done, since most everyone else will be at the office. This freedom helps you streamline the rest of your life and keeps your work life at peak productivity.

3. Set time for breaks

Entrepreneurs are fiercely independent by nature. You have your vision, your business, and your ever growing to-do list. It can feel impossible to put work down, but constantly focusing will hurt you more in the long run. If you want to be on your grind, you absolutely need to take breaks. This is not optional. If you aren’t pacing yourself, you’re going to burnout, hard.

This is as simple as getting up every half hour to stretch. Since you’re on your own timeline, you can schedule in time to do this and more. Get your eyes off the screen. A great way to take a break is to hit the gym since it will banish stress, boost creativity, and help you reach mental and physical goals.

“As work is important for your survival, so is rest for a peaceful mind.” – Alan Cohen

By making sure you have time set aside for breaks, you are investing in your current and future wellbeing, and as an extension of that, your business. You’ll be better rested and more calm, which will lead to improved confidence. Your peers and customers will notice if you’re overworking yourself, and will be concerned or disinterested rather than impressed.

Living by a strict schedule will ensure that you work smarter, not harder. You need to find a rhythm for your workflow, a separate place to get your work done, and take time for yourself. If you do this, your work life balance and quality of life will vastly improve, allowing you to reach peak productivity.

Which one of these 3 ways of setting a schedule do you like best for you? Let us know in the comments below!

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The 21st Century Entrepreneur’s Guide to Attracting Ready to Buy Customers

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Unlike some decades ago, the number one challenge entrepreneurs face is not figuring out a perfect name for their startup or getting overwhelmed at the point of bringing the startup to life. Rather, the major challenge of startup founders nowadays is attracting their first (or next) sets of qualified, always-willing-to-buy customers.

Whether you run a local e-commerce store, or offer consulting services, the need to get well-paying customers (or clients) who will appreciate your work and refer your brand to others can’t be over-emphasized.

A 2016 report by UPS Connect, show that the main focus of 72% of small business owners is increasing their revenue. And if you are among the seventy-two percent of entrepreneurs, then you need not spend hours upon hours anymore in the quest for a trusted “guidebook” with hacks and tips for attracting qualified customers. Good news is, in this article, you’ll discover four infallible, actionable steps to attracting the class of customers you desire.

Ready for the long, smooth ride? Here we go:

1.  Get a byline in relevant publications

Believe it or not, people of the 21st century aren’t always willing to take out their wallet and make a purchase from a brand that shows up out of the blue. In most cases, these potential customers would prefer to buy a product of lesser quality from a “known” brand, than to purchase that of a high quality from a brand that isn’t familiar to them.

So, to avoid being bypassed by qualified customers, you need to get your name out there on relevant publications (with a sizable number of readers) in your industry. And the good part is, as a startup founder with a long, unending to-do list, you don’t have to stress about creating these web content (or articles) yourself. Like the 64% of B2B marketers who outsource writing, you can always hire a ghostwriter to get the job done.

Whether you do the writing yourself or a paid writer does, the point here is you need to get your name out there. Although this step might seem somewhat insignificant at first, the fact remains that it’s a positive leap towards attracting the customers your startup needs.

“A brand is the set of expectations, memories, stories and relationships that, taken together, account for a consumer’s decision to choose one product or service over another.” – Seth Godin

2. Start a blog

This is the 21st century, where the rate of internet users, smartphone users, and general web surfers have tripled (if not quadrupled!). According to HubSpot, 82% of marketers who blog, see positive ROI from their inbound marketing. Also, 45% of marketers, according to one report by SME, say blogging is their most important content strategy. So, by starting a blog, you won’t only increase your chances of gaining new, qualified customers, but also strengthen your chances of keeping the existing ones. And you don’t have to spend ages contemplating what should (and shouldn’t) get published on your blog.

Are there questions existing customers ask often? Are there challenges you feel most people experience while using your products? Or, are there video guides, case studies, infographics or other forms of content you believe might help strengthen your overall marketing effort? Then these are great ideas that could fill up your editorial calendar.

3. Make your business visible

Tons of businesses are established every single day. So, to avoid being outweighed by several other startups in your industry, you need to create a concrete social base. This doesn’t mean you should get your brand on every single, existing social media platform on the web. As a 21st century entrepreneur, all you need do is to identify a few places your ideal customers spend the most of their time.

Are you in the food & drinks, fashion & beauty, or personal development space? Then you should spend more time on places like Pinterest, Instagram and Google Plus. And if you are in the B2B industry, then you should focus on social media platforms like LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook. Research by CMI show that 66% of B2C marketers agree that social media is an effective platform for content marketing. So, social media isn’t just a tool that could help keep you on the radar of potential customers. When used the right way, it could also trigger a spike in your level of engagement and sales—thus, resulting in more revenue for your startup.

“People don’t buy from a website, they buy from people. Let them see who you are.” – Mark Schaefer

4. Go the extra mile

In some cases, what’s needed on your part to attract the attention of potential customers is a “mouth-watering” deal—one your competitors can’t dare to contest! This can come in several forms. If you run an e-commerce store, for example, you could offer free shipping services to customers who opt-in for certain high-priced products. If you offer freelance services, say graphic designing, you could deliver graphic designs in various variants without demanding extra fees.

Whatever approach to which you present your “insane” deal, just make sure it’s juicy enough to entice potential customers, compel them to make a purchase, and then propel them to speak well of your brand to their friends—who have the tendency of becoming customers too.

Growing a business is never a day’s job but, unlike startup founders of past centuries, the 21st-century entrepreneurs aren’t “towel throwers.” The truth is, attracting one’s first (or next) group of qualified customers is no small task. By following the steps outlined above, your startup will, in no long time, boast of a large, solid list of loyal customers.

Which of the steps highlighted above do you intend to take first? Share it with us below!

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How You Can Effectively Achieve Your Goals by Using the Puzzle Analogy

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I was building a 500 piece puzzle the other day with many tiny little pieces. When I opened the box, I was completely overwhelmed. There were so many pieces and many of them were very similar in color. I took a breath and thought “just do one piece at a time”. I knew that I had to come up with a plan and organize the pieces into groups before I got started. This helped me to focus and take away some of the overwhelming feelings that were coming up. I came up with a plan and executed that plan. (more…)

Meghan Olsgard is the creator and writer of www.infinitesoulblueprint.com where she writes articles about self-empowerment and creating a fulfilling life. She shares her personal experiences and the obstacles she has overcame to help and inspire others to do the same. You can get more information at her website or follow her on Facebook.

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18 Comments

18 Comments

  1. Brickwork India

    Aug 9, 2016 at 9:34 am

    Hi Charlene,
    A great read!, as mentioned in your 4th point, Travel helps in understanding how people manage problems and how you can add value to it. To complement this view, Travel also teaches you to handle uncertainties and gives the exposure on how others manage uncertainties in their lives.

    • Charlene Rhinehart

      Aug 11, 2016 at 9:29 am

      Hi Brickwork,
      Thanks for your feedback! Great point. Traveling shows you how others manage uncertainties in their lives. This is valuable information to have at your disposal when you are learning to interact with different kinds of people.

  2. Tim Denning

    Aug 8, 2016 at 1:05 am

    Charlene this is another great article by you on travel. I love your passion for travel and the benefits you can get from it. I am about to have a holiday in the USA and it gives me the motivation I need to work though long days.

    • Charlene Rhinehart

      Aug 10, 2016 at 9:33 am

      Thanks for reading, Tim! I can only imagine the number of ideas that will unfold as you take advantage of new experiences in the U.S. Enjoy every moment! I look forward to reading more of your articles.

  3. Kenyatta

    Aug 5, 2016 at 8:49 pm

    Great Article! Reminds me of my Costa Rica trip, that I had the pleasure to travel to in High School. At first I was nervous because I am not fluent in Spanish and didn’t know much about the culture. But I learned alot during my time there. I agree with all four points in this article and I must say many employers are impressed and want to learn more about the person’s experience. Very impressive Charlene , continue to encourage people to step outside of their comfort zone.

    • Charlene Rhinehart

      Aug 7, 2016 at 7:21 am

      Hi Kenyatta, Thanks for sharing! That’s amazing that you had the opportunity to travel to Costa Rica in High School. Traveling broadens your perspectives and instantly opens you up to more possibilities. I think more individuals should travel while they are in high school because there is more to the world beyond the U.S.A. People who only stay in their country only see a tiny piece of the puzzle that has so many beautiful pieces. I’m glad to hear that you did not let your lack of Spanish communication skills hinder you from this travel opportunity. Keep traveling and stretching the limits of your comfort zone, Kenyatta!

  4. Toño

    Aug 5, 2016 at 2:51 pm

    An excellent article as you continue to guide us through the ultimate importance of travelling, Charlene! I really like to read about such topic and enjoyed this one as well. I can safely confirm all the cool and crazy things happened to me while being away from home, even not so far, which led to making huge decisions in my life.

    Please continue to share your experience and advice, thank you very much, much appreciation and love!

    • Charlene Rhinehart

      Aug 7, 2016 at 7:31 am

      Thanks for sharing, Toño! I agree. Life is an exhilarating journey. Traveling allows us to tap into more of that excitement and I am so glad that you have had the opportunity to experience that. Traveling comes with one unexpected result for most people: your life as you know it will change.

      Thanks for your support and encouragement! Much appreciated!

  5. Mercedes

    Aug 5, 2016 at 3:52 am

    I am all for taking risk and I think I might take that leap and start traveling after college. I love being around a diverse group of people because I feel as though I learn so much. #4 is something I am very interested in the most , when meeting people from a different race. Thanks for sharing your up with people experience, I know it had to be fun. I love reading your articles, keep up the good work!

    • Charlene Rhinehart

      Aug 7, 2016 at 7:25 am

      Thanks Mercedes! Traveling is such a rewarding opportunity that exposes you to more of the world and gives you opportunities to discover who you are and what you really want. If you have the opportunity to take advantage of a short term travel opportunity while in college, I highly recommend it. There are many scholarships available to individuals who want to travel in college. Thanks for reading and for sharing! Wishing you the best on your last year of college!

  6. Jasminé

    Aug 4, 2016 at 10:12 pm

    Feeling motivated to be an entrepreneur and explore my talents after reading your article. Thanks for the advice, I think that it is a good idea to travel to different countries and states. Being able to see a different site and meet new people is a great experience. Continue to write inspiring articles with awesome advice!

    • Charlene Rhinehart

      Aug 7, 2016 at 7:35 am

      Thanks for sharing, Jasmine! Traveling comes with so many unexpected benefits. Entrepreneurs can really use their travel experiences to supercharge their impact and performance in their business. You can also learn a new language and increase the amount of people that you can communicate with from all over the world. Wishing you the best on your travel and entrepreneurial journey!

  7. Bryan Oliver

    Aug 4, 2016 at 9:12 pm

    Great article, Charlene. Really like #3. Building connections with those that are not like you is so important. The synergies that can be create can take you to a level you’d never reach on your own. Enjoyed it. Thank you.

    • Charlene Rhinehart

      Aug 5, 2016 at 2:12 am

      Thanks Bryan! A diverse network produces an expanded mindset that will take your life to levels that you could never reach on your own. Thanks for sharing!

  8. Alex Reyes

    Aug 4, 2016 at 6:18 pm

    I think one of the biggest benefits is the number 2. Opening yourself to new possibilities also helps you become more creative than what you could ever experience before.

    Even a short trip to another part of the country can show you how different people can be.

    • Charlene Rhinehart

      Aug 5, 2016 at 2:14 am

      Very true! Any experience that takes you outside of your comfort zone can expose you to new possibilities and ways of living. Thanks for sharing, Alex!

  9. Glenn Mace

    Aug 4, 2016 at 2:24 pm

    Great read very important for everyone to go outside the box. Experience brings wealth. #MLux

    • Charlene Rhinehart

      Aug 5, 2016 at 2:15 am

      Great point, Glenn! Experience brings a wealth of information, resources, and connections that can create profitable results in your business. Thanks for sharing!

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Entrepreneurs

The 5 Step Framework Every Business Owner Should Be Following

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Every new business owner wants to gain business, yet most do not have the right perception on how to gain business the right way. Oftentimes, our ego prevents us from fostering the proper relationships that will allow us to build a strong foundation that we can grow on. You need to drop your ego and provide value first.

In this article I will share a 5-step framework that you can replicate in your own life and business in order to gain your first clients and then grow with those clients as you scale to a 6 or 7-figure business.

The biggest pitfall with new business owners is that they over-price themselves because they are thinking short-term instead of realizing that the delayed gratification and long-term perspective is what they need to grow the business that they envision.

For example, David Zhao, serial entrepreneur and rising millennial leader, is a great example of someone who started from nothing and has built a networth of over $10 million dollars at the age of 23 by dropping his ego and providing value first, for less.

Here’s the secret that no one is telling you:Work for free. Execute. Get case studies. Leverage case studies for new business referrals. Then charge full price. Most people do not tell you that it’s okay to work for free early on because they do not understand the long-term perspective of business.

You are not going to work for free forever

When you are just starting out you NEED to get wins under your belt and there is no better way to do this than by providing value to your ideal customer for less than your normal price. Think long term and realize how much more money you can bring in once you’ve successfully helped your first clients.

For example, when David Zhao started his business between the ages of 15-17, he helped his teachers and local clinics with their websites. In fact, his first client was his Orthodontist whom he only charged $200 dollars for a website that could have easily been worth 5x that amount.

David continued to create websites for small to medium-sized businesses and leveraged his Chinese roots to connect with Chinese business owners who were not great at speaking English because he realized he could provide a lot of value to these people.

You need to identify who you can provide the most value to. Once you identify them you can approach them with an offer that makes sense.

You’ll see immediate growth and traction in your business by implementing this 5-step framework:

1. Give first

Find someone in your niche and in your hot/warm market because the cold market is too distant with no foundation. Focus on Win-Win situations. In this case, doing work for cheaper allows you to build your credibility and get some wins under your belt.

2. Build relationships

Do not be greedy early on because that distracts you from the mission of completing the work so that you can gain a new client. David used this principle to raise his first investment fund of $5 million dollars.

For example, for the first couple of investors in his fund he did not charge any management fees. Other people may have charged a management fee + 20% – 30%, but instead David charged less in order to provide more value and get himself the opportunity.

Because his bigger goal is to raise a $100 million fund, this initial $5 million fund is just a stepping stone. What are the stepping stones you need to take to get where you want to go? Do not prevent yourself from getting the opportunity by overcharging. Think about what you are willing to give.

“I believe that you can get everything in life you want if you will just help enough other people get what they want.” – Zig Ziglar

3. Execute on your product or service

Executing and providing great work is the most important part of the equation. If you don’t execute then there is no way you can build relationships and scale. Trust is built once you complete the things you say you can do. Your reputation is built around your work. Be open-minded with no ego and always ask for feedback.

Remember, you are leveraging these early clients to close higher ticket clients later on. Therefore, it’s in your benefit to ask for as much feedback as possible to ensure they have the best experience that you can leverage for new business later on. Always underpromise and overdeliver. Become so useful that you will get paid your full value later.

4. Gain referrals and case studies

After you’ve executed, it’s time to turn the experience into a case study and ask for a referral. Simply asking goes a long way. David was able to use this strategy to become one of the first members in Yelp’s marketing partnership program. Initially, David offered his time for free to build Yelp’s partnership program. He would go in to help the team for 20-30 hours a week, for free.

During this time he met the COO and Regional Account Executive and built a relationship with them. Obviously, these people are usually pretty difficult to get in contact with, yet because David provided value first, he was able to get passed any gatekeepers and build a direct relationship with them. His 7-figure digital marketing agency, NXT Factor, became the first NY agency partner of Yelp. Now he has spent $1 million+ in ad spend for his clients by wholesaling Yelp marketing.

“One customer, well taken care of, could be more valuable than $10,000 worth of advertising.”  – Jim Rohn

5. Use case studies to gain new credibility and leverage for new business

After you see success, you need to have a plan on how to use the case study to attract new business. Most business owners think that referrals just come. This is not true.

As Dan Kennedy and Shaun Buck state in their book “No B.S. Guide to Maximum Referrals and Customer Retention”, you need to have this system set in place. David has been able to leverage his past successes with his early clients to work with brands like Google, Apple, PayPal, Amex, Visa, Blade, and JetSmarter.

Using this framework will bring you new business and allow you to scale to the next level. Stop making things harder for yourself by seeing things short-term and instead change to a long-term perspective in your business. Give more than you take and focus on building relationships. Execute on your work and use the case studies to attract new business and referrals. You can do it.

How can this 5 step framework help your business in becoming more successful? Let us know in the comments below!

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Entrepreneurs

4 Things All Healthy Entrepreneurial Businesses Have in Common

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All healthy businesses are profitable, but all profitable businesses are not healthy. Health is the #1 thing to strive for when running and operating a business, especially when you’re building it from scratch as a “solopreneur.”

The particular reason for it being this way is because as soon as you are, you will have a better cash flow, more satisfied clients and customers, better relationships with co-workers, a more performance-based culture and most importantly, you are happier.

The business landscape and the fast-paced environments we work in gives you and your business only one guarantee- continuous change. Therefore, it is vital that you measure the performance of your business on a regular basis, knowing your KPI, and continually readapting to the new set of rules produced by technology and other variables. To not only survive, but thrive in your business, it is first and foremost essential for it to be healthy.

Here are the 4 things that all healthy business have in common:

1. A hot product/service

Is there a demand or a need for what you have to sell? By the way, this is a question you should have asked yourself before you even started your venture! Gary Halbert talks about going into a market that has demonstrated to be starving (or at least hungry) for your product or service. That said, it is essential to understand that a healthy business, no matter the economic situation, will still make sales.

People will spend money on your product or service if there is a substantial need for it. As long as you solve peoples’ or businesses’ problems and reduce their pain points, you have created a solid foundation of a healthy business through your core offer.

“I think we’re having fun. I think our customers really like our products. And we’re always trying to do better.” – Steve Jobs

2. Having a pipeline in place

What does it mean having a pipeline in place? It’s asking the question: Can you consistently bring in new business, whenever you need and want it? Do you have a reliable system in place that can be automated to generate new clients and customers for your product/service that can be turned on and off with a push of a button?

Healthy things typically attract attention, however, before you can tell someone how good your product or service is, you need your prospects’ attention.

There are several ways to do that; Conner Burt outlines a few good tricks. For a business to be flourishing, you are not allowed under any circumstances to base your decisions upon fear, scarcity, or emotional desperation like many entrepreneurs do. Instead, what you’d rather want is to make your decisions out of abundance and a position of power.

A growing business that scales at large has a pipeline and unless you want to get stuck, start putting a system in place. Using gained forward momentum is the single most powerful strategy for growth.

A common misconception amongst entrepreneurs is not to grow too fast, but there is no such thing if you’re well prepared and have a system in place.

3. Cash reserves

Every healthy business has cash reserves. Looking at all the successful companies that are unicorns in their respected market like Southwest, Uber, and Tesla. They all have cash (admittedly- a ton of it).

However, the point being, it just makes sense to be able to rely on liquid assets when the market crashes, shifts or a recession period comes along. Building up your war chest for the bad times will be a reason for not going bankrupt.

In fact, Southwest was the only airline during 9/11 who didn’t suffer a significant loss money wise and didn’t lay off employees. Why? Because they had 3.6 Billion Dollars in cash sitting around.

Cash reserves are directly correlated to your pipeline since it won’t make any difference to have money on hand if you don’t have the required skill set to grow your previously mentioned pipeline.

“All days are not same. Save for a rainy day. When you don’t work, savings will work for you.” M.K. Soni

4. A vision for other people

Business is about other people, never about yourself. The ability to grow relies on your vision you deploy for other people. What do you provide for other people? It has to be more than money, right? Every healthy business has resistance and challenges. Being healthy doesn’t mean you never struggle with anything.

Being healthy means that you are equipped to deal with the struggle and grow through it, and this requires a vision for other people that is way bigger than yourself.

Having a vision that goes beyond yourself and being authentic, doing what’s right for the prospect or client over doing what is best for you and your business will ultimately determine your business’s health.

Building a healthy business as an entrepreneur is tough when being unprepared. Knowing what will keep you on track, primarily through growth and scaling periods helps you build up sustainably, without the fear of a free fall to rock bottom.

Share with us a little about your business and if there’s anything we can do to help you grow. Comment below!

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Entrepreneurs

3 Ways to Set a Productive Schedule as an Entrepreneur

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Working as an entrepreneur means being your own boss. You get to make your business plan, hire the right team for your vision, and set your own hours. It also means that you are fully responsible for your successes and failures. While the benefits are incredibly tempting, not everyone is cut out to be an entrepreneur. Your success relies hugely on your ability to stay accountable to yourself and your customers.

How do you succeed as an entrepreneur? By setting a strict schedule and respecting it, day in and day out. You need to show up for yourself consistently, otherwise, you’re not going to be able to handle the daily pressures of running your own business.

Here are 3 ways to set a schedule that will inspire and re-energize you:

1. Set aside a space for work

This might not be an initial high priority, but if you’re working from home, you absolutely need a separate office space. It might be tempting to just set up shop at your kitchen table or couch to save some time. The Wall Street Journal reports that 80% of young professionals work from their beds most of the time. This, however, will result in compromised productivity.  

When you do this, your bedroom stops being a place of rest and becomes a place of work. This will ruin both the quality of your work and the quality of your sleep, which is crucial for wellbeing. Dedicate a space that’s solely for work, even if it’s just a simple desk. Entrepreneurs suffer from high levels of stress, and organization is key to getting your small business off the ground.

If your living space is just too small, get out of the house! Sure, you could hit up the traditional coffee shop or even your local library, but maybe you’re looking for something with some more structure. Consider a coworking space. A recent study shows that people in coworking spaces reported high levels of work satisfaction, much higher than those working in a traditional office space.

Utilizing a coworking space will let you interact with others, get out of your house, and dedicate a space to work. Even better, you’ll be able to leave your work at the “office” and enjoy your home.

“Entrepreneurs have a great ability to create change, be flexible, build companies and cultivate the kind of work environment in which they want to work.” – Tory Burch

2. Try out a few different schedules

You’ve got a lot of freedom as an entrepreneur, but you need to leverage it to your best advantage. The good news is that you can use your peak hours of productivity. It doesn’t matter if you’re an early riser or a night owl, whenever you’re feeling the most inspired is when you can crank out your ideas and content.

You can’t forget entirely about normal business hours; you’ll need to reach contacts and schedule meetings during the 9 to 5 grind. Arrange your day around those non-negotiable meetings, and use the time you have left over to get your work done. Fortunately, you can use off hours to get errands done, since most everyone else will be at the office. This freedom helps you streamline the rest of your life and keeps your work life at peak productivity.

3. Set time for breaks

Entrepreneurs are fiercely independent by nature. You have your vision, your business, and your ever growing to-do list. It can feel impossible to put work down, but constantly focusing will hurt you more in the long run. If you want to be on your grind, you absolutely need to take breaks. This is not optional. If you aren’t pacing yourself, you’re going to burnout, hard.

This is as simple as getting up every half hour to stretch. Since you’re on your own timeline, you can schedule in time to do this and more. Get your eyes off the screen. A great way to take a break is to hit the gym since it will banish stress, boost creativity, and help you reach mental and physical goals.

“As work is important for your survival, so is rest for a peaceful mind.” – Alan Cohen

By making sure you have time set aside for breaks, you are investing in your current and future wellbeing, and as an extension of that, your business. You’ll be better rested and more calm, which will lead to improved confidence. Your peers and customers will notice if you’re overworking yourself, and will be concerned or disinterested rather than impressed.

Living by a strict schedule will ensure that you work smarter, not harder. You need to find a rhythm for your workflow, a separate place to get your work done, and take time for yourself. If you do this, your work life balance and quality of life will vastly improve, allowing you to reach peak productivity.

Which one of these 3 ways of setting a schedule do you like best for you? Let us know in the comments below!

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Entrepreneurs

The 21st Century Entrepreneur’s Guide to Attracting Ready to Buy Customers

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Unlike some decades ago, the number one challenge entrepreneurs face is not figuring out a perfect name for their startup or getting overwhelmed at the point of bringing the startup to life. Rather, the major challenge of startup founders nowadays is attracting their first (or next) sets of qualified, always-willing-to-buy customers.

Whether you run a local e-commerce store, or offer consulting services, the need to get well-paying customers (or clients) who will appreciate your work and refer your brand to others can’t be over-emphasized.

A 2016 report by UPS Connect, show that the main focus of 72% of small business owners is increasing their revenue. And if you are among the seventy-two percent of entrepreneurs, then you need not spend hours upon hours anymore in the quest for a trusted “guidebook” with hacks and tips for attracting qualified customers. Good news is, in this article, you’ll discover four infallible, actionable steps to attracting the class of customers you desire.

Ready for the long, smooth ride? Here we go:

1.  Get a byline in relevant publications

Believe it or not, people of the 21st century aren’t always willing to take out their wallet and make a purchase from a brand that shows up out of the blue. In most cases, these potential customers would prefer to buy a product of lesser quality from a “known” brand, than to purchase that of a high quality from a brand that isn’t familiar to them.

So, to avoid being bypassed by qualified customers, you need to get your name out there on relevant publications (with a sizable number of readers) in your industry. And the good part is, as a startup founder with a long, unending to-do list, you don’t have to stress about creating these web content (or articles) yourself. Like the 64% of B2B marketers who outsource writing, you can always hire a ghostwriter to get the job done.

Whether you do the writing yourself or a paid writer does, the point here is you need to get your name out there. Although this step might seem somewhat insignificant at first, the fact remains that it’s a positive leap towards attracting the customers your startup needs.

“A brand is the set of expectations, memories, stories and relationships that, taken together, account for a consumer’s decision to choose one product or service over another.” – Seth Godin

2. Start a blog

This is the 21st century, where the rate of internet users, smartphone users, and general web surfers have tripled (if not quadrupled!). According to HubSpot, 82% of marketers who blog, see positive ROI from their inbound marketing. Also, 45% of marketers, according to one report by SME, say blogging is their most important content strategy. So, by starting a blog, you won’t only increase your chances of gaining new, qualified customers, but also strengthen your chances of keeping the existing ones. And you don’t have to spend ages contemplating what should (and shouldn’t) get published on your blog.

Are there questions existing customers ask often? Are there challenges you feel most people experience while using your products? Or, are there video guides, case studies, infographics or other forms of content you believe might help strengthen your overall marketing effort? Then these are great ideas that could fill up your editorial calendar.

3. Make your business visible

Tons of businesses are established every single day. So, to avoid being outweighed by several other startups in your industry, you need to create a concrete social base. This doesn’t mean you should get your brand on every single, existing social media platform on the web. As a 21st century entrepreneur, all you need do is to identify a few places your ideal customers spend the most of their time.

Are you in the food & drinks, fashion & beauty, or personal development space? Then you should spend more time on places like Pinterest, Instagram and Google Plus. And if you are in the B2B industry, then you should focus on social media platforms like LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook. Research by CMI show that 66% of B2C marketers agree that social media is an effective platform for content marketing. So, social media isn’t just a tool that could help keep you on the radar of potential customers. When used the right way, it could also trigger a spike in your level of engagement and sales—thus, resulting in more revenue for your startup.

“People don’t buy from a website, they buy from people. Let them see who you are.” – Mark Schaefer

4. Go the extra mile

In some cases, what’s needed on your part to attract the attention of potential customers is a “mouth-watering” deal—one your competitors can’t dare to contest! This can come in several forms. If you run an e-commerce store, for example, you could offer free shipping services to customers who opt-in for certain high-priced products. If you offer freelance services, say graphic designing, you could deliver graphic designs in various variants without demanding extra fees.

Whatever approach to which you present your “insane” deal, just make sure it’s juicy enough to entice potential customers, compel them to make a purchase, and then propel them to speak well of your brand to their friends—who have the tendency of becoming customers too.

Growing a business is never a day’s job but, unlike startup founders of past centuries, the 21st-century entrepreneurs aren’t “towel throwers.” The truth is, attracting one’s first (or next) group of qualified customers is no small task. By following the steps outlined above, your startup will, in no long time, boast of a large, solid list of loyal customers.

Which of the steps highlighted above do you intend to take first? Share it with us below!

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