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5 Simple But Overlooked Ways to Stand Out From Your Competition

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how to stand out in business

You’re an entrepreneur. You’re working on your side-hustle aspiring to be one soon. You’re a dream chaser who thrives on freedom. But what makes you different from the thousands of other entrepreneurs launching their businesses with a laptop and an internet connection?

While the title and the aspirations behind wanting to be an entrepreneur may be the same, no two entrepreneurs are equal. How do you separate yourself from the pack? How do you become a smart entrepreneur in today’s crowded marketplace?

Here are 5 ways to be a stand out entrepreneur:

1. Don’t be the hero of your story

You’re crazy about your product or service. It may be ‘one-of-a-kind’ and get your customer from A to Z in half the time. As fabulous as it is, stop tooting your own horn. Don’t play the hero who’s waiting to swoop in to rescue your customer.

Donald Miller, Founder of Story Brand says ,“Your brand is not the hero of the story, your customer is. When your brand stops playing the hero and starts playing the role of the guide in your customer’s story, you’ll see dramatic results.

Articulate the value of your brand and products by keeping your customer or client at the center of it. Ask yourself the following questions:

  1. Why does the customer need your product? Reflect the customer’s challenges or desires back to him.
  2. How will it work? Describe the change the product will create. Every product or service has to create a change in your customer. E.g. From scared and intimidated to confident and in control. From overwhelmed and desperate to relaxed and stress-free
  3. What exactly does your product or service do? Finish with the facts. This is where you bring your customer full-circle and let them know about the benefits and features of your product.

This is a simple formula you can use for your product descriptions and sales and landing pages.

“Your brand is what other people say about you when you’re not in the room.” – Jeff Bezos

2. Be an entrepreneur who makes money in their sleep

Those were the words of Richard Branson. Because that’s the dream right? To live the laptop lifestyle. To post pictures from Krabi or Phuket. To work in your pyjamas and bunny slippers from home.

But in reality, most entrepreneurs are freelancers or one-person run companies. They think that working for themselves means being an entrepreneur. They trade time for money.

But this is a model that won’t sustain itself over the long run. If you cut down your hours, you cut down your revenue. If you have sick days, your work suffers.

Your business depends on you for its survival. There’s no denying that most entrepreneurs start off with this model. It’s a necessity when you’re still trying to find your footing.

But smart entrepreneurs don’t get stuck in the ‘time for money’ wheel of trade. They have a vision of how to break out of the cycle and make plans to scale. Their vision for their business is bigger than them.

 

3. Determine how much energy you have

We live in a society where asking for help is a sign of weakness and being busy and doing everything yourself is a status symbol. You’re no less of an entrepreneur by getting help. There is no shame in outsourcing elements of your business.

You don’t have to keep ‘crushing it’. Ask yourself:How much time and energy do you really have? And what do you want to do in those hours?

When you know the size of your energy basket and the size of your tasks, you find that it’s easier to choose what to do and what not to do. You become aware that saying yes to one task means saying no to something else.

Have a clear picture of tasks that grow your business and tasks that maintain your business. Once you get clear on these, determine what your major time drains are.

These are most likely business maintenance tasks like bookkeeping or website fixes. See if you can outsource these so that you have time to work on tasks that grow your business. Smart entrepreneurs are aware of their limits. They know when to step back and get help.

 

4. Focus on being different, not better than your competitors

Be different because you’ll never be better. Once you start to compete on ‘better’, you’ll have to add features and benefits to stay in the race. When everyone starts to compete on these, it boils down to who can offer the cheapest price.

The marketplace is flooded with similar products. Just have a look at the number of courses helping you build a profitable blog.

Start analyzing your competitors and gaps in the marketplace and try to find a way to be different. Smart entrepreneurs know how to position themselves in an already crowded marketplace.

“It takes nothing to join the crowd. It takes everything to stand alone.” – Hans Hansen

5. Sell promises

Your brand is not so much what you say it is, as what your customer says it is. What story do they tell themselves by consuming your products and services?

It’s the perception of your brand in their mind that makes them listen to you or buy from you.

People like to buy, but they don’t like to be sold to. And when they do buy, they buy because of the identity your brand gives them. The promise your brand offer gives.

Brand story strategist Bernadette Jiwa says “Because people don’t want to ‘do’ they want to ‘be’. They want to be less busy and more productive, less alone and more connected, less fearful and feel more safe.” Smart entrepreneurs sell promises rather than features and benefits.

Let these points guide you in your business. Align yourself with the true definition of who an entrepreneur is. Because once you do that, you’ll be unstoppable. You’ll be a stand-out entrepreneur.

What do you currently do to stand out from businesses in your industry? Please leave your thoughts in the comment section below!

Meera Kothand is a certified email marketing specialist, blogger and a self-professed email nerd. She blogs over at MeeraKothand.Com where she helps bloggers and solopreneurs create authentic blogs and businesses minus the sleaze to build an unmissable online presence and to make an impact online? Click here to get started.

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9 Comments

9 Comments

  1. Alice Miriam Andreat

    Mar 21, 2018 at 1:21 pm

    Hi Meera! Great tips! I believe in abundance over competition, so #4 speaks to me!

  2. Abdulwasii Ilyas

    Jan 21, 2017 at 2:40 pm

    I know I can’t be better than any anyone. So, first I try to be me and then regularly improve on that to become a better version of “me”.

  3. SYLVESTER IKECHUKWU

    Jan 12, 2017 at 11:53 am

    It’s a mind-blowing write-up,As for me and my co-founders ,we did take the disadvantages of our forecast competitors turning them into our Advantages ,thereby taking off being our competitors to been different from them and what they do…i.e.Tradetack.com on e-commerce services…especially in africa.

  4. ROGER

    Dec 26, 2016 at 1:20 am

    Intriguing. ROGER

  5. Evan

    Aug 18, 2016 at 8:02 am

    Hey Meera,

    Fantastic advice contained in this brand strategy/differentiation article! The main takeaway I got is demonstrating the ideal customer and how they get the huge benefits (promises) out of what you’re selling.

    Too many people focus on image ads, and even large corporations simply put ads in front of people that have no call to action or time-constraint. This is why I’ve learned so much about direct response and I see it as a very longevity-focused business strategy.

    Thanks for the gold nuggets and actionable points you provided

    – Evan

  6. Meera

    Jun 3, 2016 at 1:55 am

    Tim, absolutely! And that’s something I learnt the hard way. I think almost everyone starts off wanting to be better. And passive income….it takes a lot of work to put in place those funnels and systems but it’s well worth the time and effort to start off on the right foot. Thanks so much for your comment Tim!

  7. Yury Gerasimchuk

    Jun 3, 2016 at 1:15 am

    great article! very thoughtful points

    • Meera

      Jun 5, 2016 at 7:14 am

      Glad you enjoyed it Yury!

  8. Tim Denning

    Jun 3, 2016 at 12:36 am

    Meera thank you for sharing your advice. There were so good thought- provoking points you mentioned. Passive income as the single biggest way to build your income. Your last point makes a lot of sense. Trying to be better than your competitors can be hard so being different seems much easier.

Leave a Reply

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

Entrepreneurs

7 Rules About Small Business That Are Meant to Be Broken

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small business
Image Credit: Unsplash

Famously said by Marilyn Monroe, “If I’d observed all the rules, I’d never have got anywhere.” If you are aiming high and planning to materialize your dream by defying all barriers and killing the stereotype, then the quote mentioned above is something that will get you going. Talking of small businesses, if we look back at the history of SMEs-turned-world-changing-MNCs, some remarkable brands like Apple, HP, Google, Walt Disney, Mattel and Amazon certainly get a special mention.

Now you must be thinking what rule did Steve Jobs break or what exactly were Larry Page and Sergey Brin up to? Well, breaking the rules doesn’t necessarily mean to try out random illegal stuff that may put you behind bars. Breaking rules indicates ignoring certain stereotypes to rise above what is regular and conventional in order to turn your small business into a successful and universally recognized company someday.  

Published on Forbes, the list of small companies in America that are making it big in the industry has a count of 25 firms with revenues ranging from $3 Million to a huge $532 Million. Astonished much? Nothing really is impossible you see!

Here are the 7 conventional small business rules which are better to be broken than to follow blindly:

1. Do not rope your family and friends in the business

This perhaps is the most common and an unspoken law followed by many people in the domain of start-up businesses. It’s a misconception among us that involvement of family and friends ruins the business prosperity. Do you know your favorite café Starbucks was founded back in the year 1971 by three San Francisco University students, and the original McDonald’s restaurant in California was founded by the McDonald brothers Maurice and Richard McDonald? So it is a myth after all!

2. If you are good at something, never do it for free

You may oppose this notion of working for free but have you ever thought of it the other way around? Suppose you have a start-up business that offers online academic writing service. Declare free essay help for all as a part of your promotional campaign. Provide all interested students with free services once and pitch the premium ones eventually. At least you can have people notice your business. That’s something which is crucial to every small trade.

3. No graduation means no business prosperity

Michael Dell (Dell), Larry Ellison (Oracle), Jan Koum (WhatsApp CEO), and Evan Williams (co-founder of Twitter), are examples of successful college dropouts turned billionaire business tycoons, apart from the iconic Steve Jobs and Zuckerberg.

Nonetheless, this is no way an indication to drop your graduation plan and start a trade right away. But in case you cannot continue with the graduation program or have to leave midway, then it won’t bring any harm to your business, as long as you have the zeal to innovate and stand out. Your motivation for the day – If they can do it, so can you!

“If you can dream it, you can do it.” – Walt Disney

4. You are too young to start a business or get an internship

Sound familiar? Well, this is yet another man-made small business rule that keeps coming in between one’s aspirations and dreams. Being young has nothing to do with businesses if you have the motivation to start something on your own with a focused mindset.

Rather, a young entrepreneur has greater advantages as compared to that of the mid-aged one. As you get older, taking risks and being flexible and dynamic might be a problem, but such is not the case with the youngsters. They are agile, more liberal, open to changes and risk takers. As you know, taking risks in business is the first step towards attaining success.

5. Not all social media campaigns work well for the business

Social media is a terrific platform for all small business owners aiming to invest less and generate more revenue. On the contrary, you can’t actually be too confident about it. You never know who’s available on which platform. The internet is a big thing, and you can’t get enough of it.

Because of this, choose to make a difference, sell your ideas, promote your products in as many social media sites possible, and leave no possibilities unexplored. Remember, digital marketing costs less than the traditional methodologies.

6. You have to have a plan drafted for seamless operations

Planning is always crucial to every business, but bringing compulsion to it and not being flexible enough to think anything beyond a drafted plan can at times bring limitations. There are moments when you need to plan things up quickly and make smart decisions early in the process.

Every time you would call your team for a meeting or sit with pen and paper and spend hours brainstorming, you might lose out on opportunities that your competitors might already have grabbed with agility, confidence and smartness. At times, you need to think beyond drafted agendas. That’s all you need for a quick transmutation!

“Management is all about managing in the short term, while developing the plans for the long term.” – Jack Welch

7. Follow what your successful competitors are doing

To draw inspiration and ideas is one thing, but following them blindly is another. If you want your business products and services to be remembered with great brand recall values, then it’s time to make a move, and think beyond tried and tested strategies. Trying out the good old approaches and sticking to the conventional ideas of marketing is good, but that won’t help your target audience experience or explore something new and catchy, will it?

So, here’s your chance to try out the untried, break the unbreakable, jump beyond your boundaries, think beyond all limitations and achieve what you wish for. Your business is in your hands, make it a big one.

Do you want to start a business? If so, what would you like it to be? Let us know in the comments below!

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Entrepreneurs

3 Signs You Are Operating With Negative Energy as an Entrepreneur

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Image Credit: Twenty20.com

When you first think about becoming an entrepreneur you hear about how it won’t be easy and it’s going to take some time to make a profit, and you might even hear about how many ideas will fail before you actually get that one idea that will blow up and bring you the success that you are looking for.

After hearing all of that, you decided to start your entrepreneurial journey anyway. You climbed, you worked hard, you worked weekends, and holidays. You invested time, money, and sweat into your business. You also put systems in place that cost you a pretty penny and after all of that, nothing seemed to work.

So you did even more market research and you got a business coach and after all of that you still are not seeing the results you desire and now you are ready to throw in the towel. STOP! Don’t throw in the towel just yet! It might not be the systems, your message, or even your website, it just might be your energy.

Your energy will help to attract or repel people

There are five ways that will make your energy a repellent instead of a paying customer attraction. Your energy makes up a huge factor of what you bring to the table and it is not just about your attitude. Yes, your attitude plays a huge role but, there are also other factors that you need to know about as well. Your energy is the vibrational vibe that you are sending out to the world. We all have it but are you being intentional?

The only way you can be intentional is for you to understand how your energy works. Have you ever walked by someone or something and got the chills? You just knew something was not right. You may not have been able to tell exactly what it was but you knew it didn’t feel right to you so you just avoided that person or area.

“Reality is created by the mind, we can change our reality by changing our mind.”  Plato

What about when you think of someone and get butterflies in your stomach? We all could use some butterflies every now and then. That energy feels good right? It feels exciting and it gives you a sense of knowing that is pleasant that we wouldn’t mind experiencing again.

That is exactly what you can make people feel like before they even physically meet you or buy from you. Either you’re going to give them the chills or you’re going to give them butterflies. If you desire to give the people who you are supposed to be serving butterflies instead of chills, you’ve got to start focusing on your energy every single day. Getting your energy to the level that you want it to be to give you the results that you desire is a process that takes time that will eventually pay off.

Here are three of the five things that you can stop doing immediately to start seeing your energy give off the signals that you desire:

1. You not confronting the person in the mirror

In one place in your entrepreneurial journey or another, you dropped the ball, you neglected yourself, you gave into your fears, or worst, you quit. Have you apologized to yourself? Have you had that honest conversation with yourself telling yourself how what you did or didn’t do made you feel? If you haven’t yet had that conversation, have it, forgive yourself, and let it go! Holding on to the past only overloads your energy with negative energy so that there is no room for the positive energy that you desire to come through. The more often you do this the better. At the least, you should do this once a month.

2. You haven’t embraced your authentic self

The reason why you first started your entrepreneurial journey was because you were passionate about something. You were passionate about being your own boss, being a positive contributor to the world, and making lots of money while doing it and somehow during your journey, you lost who you were and what you were truly passionate about. You have to go on a journey back to self and embrace your authentic self. That is what your people that you haven’t found yet are attracted to and waiting for desire from you.

“Opportunities multiply as they are seized.” – Sun Tzu

3. You are not learning what life is teaching

There are different seasons for life just like there are different seasons in a calendar year. Are you aware what season of life you are in right now? If so, are you learning the lesson that you need to learn so that you won’t be in the negative energy of repeating the same cycles? If you are not being consciously aware of the seasons of when you are supposed to reflect, tear down, purge, and build then you are bound to repeat the cycle again.

There is a lot of work that goes into becoming a successful entrepreneur and at times it can really get discouraging. It may feel like you have tried everything and nothing seems to be giving you the break through that you desire. Before you throw in the towel or feel like a complete failure, try to shift your energy by doing the three things stated above.

How do you shift out of negativity? Comment below!

Image courtesy of Twenty20.com

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Entrepreneurs

7 Tips for Learning Key Skills on the Fly as an Entrepreneur

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Starting your own company is undoubtedly one of the most exciting things you can do, but it is also one of the most challenging. From destructive personal habits to a lack of knowledge about how to properly run a business, there are many roadblocks that can keep you from achieving the success you so greatly desire.

The problem is, many people don’t have the time to enroll in additional business classes at school to learn these new skills. This is especially true of those who have already launched their startup and are now discovering that their skill set is somewhat lacking.

So how do you keep your lack of knowledge from bringing about a premature end to your entrepreneurial dreams? To achieve lasting success, you’ll have to develop the ability to learn these important skills “on the fly” as you simultaneously manage your company.

Here are 7 ways you can make this happen:

1. Leverage Failure

Failure is an unavoidable aspect of the business world. Even when you seem to have a great product and great team, failure is always a possibility. In fact, industries with the highest startup success rates still see 42 percent of new companies fail within their first four years of operation.

Though failure is hard, it is essential that you take a step back and assess why you failed. This allows you to gain key insights that will help you perform better in the future. As serial entrepreneur and investor Steve Tan recalls, “I’ve been involved in e-commerce since 2005. During that time, I’ve had four startups that went under. It was very hard — depressing, even, but I didn’t give up. By evaluating the reasons why my past efforts had failed, I was able to use these lessons to launch a company with my brother that now has an eight-figure annual revenue.”

2. Become a Self-Starter

Successful learners need to be self-motivated. As Jack Canfield explains, “World-class achievers don’t wait until external influences – such as a teacher, manager or boss, or new developments within an industry – force them to gain new skills or knowledge. They are self-motivated learners who are constantly looking for new ways to improve their performance and deepen their understanding of the world around them.”

To learn on the fly as an entrepreneur, you need to develop a desire to make active learning a key part of everything you do. This requires humility and self-awareness. An inner drive for improvement will help you be a more successful learner than if you were forced into change by external forces.

“Talent you have naturally. Skill is only developed by hours and hours and hours of beating on your craft.” – Will Smith

3. Set Goals

Even if you’re self-motivated, it can be hard to maintain focus on learning activities when you have so many other entrepreneurial duties on your plate. Smart goal-setting is essential for keeping on track. If you want to learn more about social media marketing, creating a specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound goal will be far more effective than having a vague desire to learn.

Goal-setting gives you the tools to track your progress toward learning milestones. As you use smart goals to remain focused and committed to on the fly learning, you’ll be better positioned to achieve actual results.

4. Find the ‘Why’

If you don’t feel as motivated to learn, it can help to focus on the why. Why do you need to understand Facebook and other social media platforms? Why should you learn about supply chain management?

As you more closely examine how such issues impact your company’s bottom line, you can find the motivation you need to make learning a priority. When this happens, you’ll be more likely to constantly search for new learning opportunities, making it far easier to learn in a hectic environment.

5. Set Aside Time Every Day

When you have a busy schedule, it can be easy for certain activities to fall by the wayside. More often than not, if you don’t carve out some “learning time” in your calendar, there’s a good chance you’ll end the day without taking any time to learn at all.

While it’s true that many of the best entrepreneurial learning opportunities are entirely unstructured, setting aside a period of structured “study time” demonstrates a level of commitment that will help you keep on track with your learning goals. Even using as little as 15 minutes to read a how-to article or work on a learning project will pay big dividends over time.

6. Look for Structured Opportunities

You don’t have to sign up for a class at your local community college to gain access to expert knowledge. It’s easier than ever to find knowledgable, authoritative resources that will help you develop the skills necessary to keep your business on track. From articles published by other entrepreneurs to online courses, there are countless resources you can use — and many of them are completely free.

Professional conferences can be especially valuable. Industry-specific conferences often focus on the trends and skills that will have a direct impact on your startup’s success. Better yet, conferences also create valuable networking opportunities that can help you foster new growth opportunities.

“Learning never exhausts the mind.” – Leonardo da Vinci

7. Get Hands-On

To become a successful learner, you need to put aside any fears about “not knowing enough” and start practicing. Studies have found that students who learn by doing perform better than their peers. The same is true in the business world.

At the end of the day, nothing beats hands-on learning. If you’re trying to learn a new language so you can better communicate with your customers, you’ll learn much quicker as you practice speaking, rather than simply reading from a textbook. Personal engagement in the activity you are trying to master is the best bet for mastery.

As Jim Rohn famously said, “Formal education will make you a living; self-education will make you a fortune.” To achieve lasting success, you have to become a learner. This requires that you examine what factors could keep you from reaching your ultimate goals and then take action to gain the skills and knowledge that will allow you to address these issues. As you strive to become a continual learner, you’ll cultivate the tools you need to become successful.

What new skill are you currently working on? Share with me in the comment section below!

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Entrepreneurs

How to Know When to Move on From a Business Idea

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We all have “lightbulb” moments from time to time. As an entrepreneur, you’ve made your living off of turning these moments into business practices. Whatever the case, every idea has a lifespan. At some point, it’ll either work for you or it won’t. If it’s not working, then you need to know the right time to move on. Otherwise, you’ll pour your time and resources into a bottomless pit.

Sure, there’s something to be said for persistence, but sometimes persistence can just lead you further down the wrong path and cause you to bang your head against the wall. We’d like to help you prevent that!

Here are 4 signs that you should move on from a business idea:

1. You’ve Completely Lost Your Passion for It

You no longer have the fire you used to have for the idea. What started out as a passion has quickly dwindled to the point where everything about it feels like a chore. You can’t see yourself working in the industry or on the idea for much longer – and certainly not for the amount of time it’ll take for it to become a lasting success.

You can keep plowing forward and ignore this lost passion, but it’ll chip away at your happiness and start to sap your energy, even if it has the potential to become profitable.

“Do what you love. Know your own bone; gnaw at it, bury it, unearth it, and gnaw it still.” – Henry David Thoreau

2. The Profit Margin is Too Low

Low profit margins create low margins for error. This becomes even more problematic when you’re dealing with tough competition in a potential “race to the bottom” of pricing. If the profit margin will be too low and you can’t figure out a way to increase it, perhaps through negotiation with potential vendors or cutting out some other part of the cost, then the idea may no longer be worth pursuing.

When calculating profit margin, make sure to calculate the net profit margin. This takes total sales and subtracts it by business expenses. Keep in mind that profit margins will vary from industry to industry.

3. You Can’t Validate It

If you struggle to validate your idea, it’s a sign that people probably don’t want or need it. For example, if you run Facebook ads to a landing page with an email opt-in to learn more about your idea, and it generates hardly any clicks, then people may not be interested.

You can try other mediums for testing and validating your idea. You can even try to “pre-sell” it, so that you get sales before you even move forward with creating it. But if all of your attempts see lackluster results, then listen to what the market is telling you. They don’t want your idea in its current state. You can either pivot and tweak your idea, or move on to something else. Because if you start pouring your resources into an idea like this, you’re bound to lose on that investment.

4. It’s Confusing

Can you easily explain your idea to potential customers and others in few sentences? If not, then it’s probably a little too confusing. Confusing ideas struggle to achieve large customer bases, because they struggle to invoke desire in customers. How can somebody want a product or service if they don’t understand what problem it solves, or what it actually does?

If your idea is confusing, you should work to simplify it and create an “elevator pitch”, then test it out by explaining it to people. If that still doesn’t work, then it may be time to move on to something else.

“Don’t find customers for your products, find products for your customers.” – David Ogilvy

You shouldn’t take every idea and use it. Instead, you should realize when it’s time to move on from one idea so you can devote more resources to your next endeavor.  It’s hard to move on, especially if you’ve invested a lot into your idea. But if you see any of the signs we’ve listed here, then it’s time to move forward.

Have you ever had an idea you thought would be successful but you had to move on from it? Let us know in the comments below so we can all help each other push forward and succeed.

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Success Advice

The Three P’s You Need to Master to Become a Better Leader

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Leadership
Image Credit: Unsplash

I have been a fan and a student of Steve Jobs, Ray Kroc and Jack Welsh for many years. It is very valuable to find similar traits in these great leaders and aggregate them, basically come up with some common denominators of their leadership success. By doing so, we can then begin to reflect their great skills into our own leadership profile. My goal here is to give you some very quick and applicable tools to modify your behavior for greater leadership skills. (more…)

Biagio Sciacca, known to his friends as Bill, was a lifelong resident of Pittston, PA. He is the owner of Intelligent Motivation, Inc. a global consulting and training firm specializing in management and leadership training as well as psychological assessment for hiring and staff development. He is the author of several books relating to goal setting, and his third book, Provocative Leadership, is publishing soon. Now residing in Tamarindo, Costa Rica, he divides his time between his international coaching and training clients, writing his next book and wandering aimlessly on the beach. Feel free to contact Bill at bill@intelligentmotivationinc.com or schedule a call with him by going to www.intelligentmotivationinc.com and clicking on the “set up a call” tab.

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9 Comments

9 Comments

  1. Alice Miriam Andreat

    Mar 21, 2018 at 1:21 pm

    Hi Meera! Great tips! I believe in abundance over competition, so #4 speaks to me!

  2. Abdulwasii Ilyas

    Jan 21, 2017 at 2:40 pm

    I know I can’t be better than any anyone. So, first I try to be me and then regularly improve on that to become a better version of “me”.

  3. SYLVESTER IKECHUKWU

    Jan 12, 2017 at 11:53 am

    It’s a mind-blowing write-up,As for me and my co-founders ,we did take the disadvantages of our forecast competitors turning them into our Advantages ,thereby taking off being our competitors to been different from them and what they do…i.e.Tradetack.com on e-commerce services…especially in africa.

  4. ROGER

    Dec 26, 2016 at 1:20 am

    Intriguing. ROGER

  5. Evan

    Aug 18, 2016 at 8:02 am

    Hey Meera,

    Fantastic advice contained in this brand strategy/differentiation article! The main takeaway I got is demonstrating the ideal customer and how they get the huge benefits (promises) out of what you’re selling.

    Too many people focus on image ads, and even large corporations simply put ads in front of people that have no call to action or time-constraint. This is why I’ve learned so much about direct response and I see it as a very longevity-focused business strategy.

    Thanks for the gold nuggets and actionable points you provided

    – Evan

  6. Meera

    Jun 3, 2016 at 1:55 am

    Tim, absolutely! And that’s something I learnt the hard way. I think almost everyone starts off wanting to be better. And passive income….it takes a lot of work to put in place those funnels and systems but it’s well worth the time and effort to start off on the right foot. Thanks so much for your comment Tim!

  7. Yury Gerasimchuk

    Jun 3, 2016 at 1:15 am

    great article! very thoughtful points

    • Meera

      Jun 5, 2016 at 7:14 am

      Glad you enjoyed it Yury!

  8. Tim Denning

    Jun 3, 2016 at 12:36 am

    Meera thank you for sharing your advice. There were so good thought- provoking points you mentioned. Passive income as the single biggest way to build your income. Your last point makes a lot of sense. Trying to be better than your competitors can be hard so being different seems much easier.

Leave a Reply

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

Entrepreneurs

7 Rules About Small Business That Are Meant to Be Broken

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small business
Image Credit: Unsplash

Famously said by Marilyn Monroe, “If I’d observed all the rules, I’d never have got anywhere.” If you are aiming high and planning to materialize your dream by defying all barriers and killing the stereotype, then the quote mentioned above is something that will get you going. Talking of small businesses, if we look back at the history of SMEs-turned-world-changing-MNCs, some remarkable brands like Apple, HP, Google, Walt Disney, Mattel and Amazon certainly get a special mention.

Now you must be thinking what rule did Steve Jobs break or what exactly were Larry Page and Sergey Brin up to? Well, breaking the rules doesn’t necessarily mean to try out random illegal stuff that may put you behind bars. Breaking rules indicates ignoring certain stereotypes to rise above what is regular and conventional in order to turn your small business into a successful and universally recognized company someday.  

Published on Forbes, the list of small companies in America that are making it big in the industry has a count of 25 firms with revenues ranging from $3 Million to a huge $532 Million. Astonished much? Nothing really is impossible you see!

Here are the 7 conventional small business rules which are better to be broken than to follow blindly:

1. Do not rope your family and friends in the business

This perhaps is the most common and an unspoken law followed by many people in the domain of start-up businesses. It’s a misconception among us that involvement of family and friends ruins the business prosperity. Do you know your favorite café Starbucks was founded back in the year 1971 by three San Francisco University students, and the original McDonald’s restaurant in California was founded by the McDonald brothers Maurice and Richard McDonald? So it is a myth after all!

2. If you are good at something, never do it for free

You may oppose this notion of working for free but have you ever thought of it the other way around? Suppose you have a start-up business that offers online academic writing service. Declare free essay help for all as a part of your promotional campaign. Provide all interested students with free services once and pitch the premium ones eventually. At least you can have people notice your business. That’s something which is crucial to every small trade.

3. No graduation means no business prosperity

Michael Dell (Dell), Larry Ellison (Oracle), Jan Koum (WhatsApp CEO), and Evan Williams (co-founder of Twitter), are examples of successful college dropouts turned billionaire business tycoons, apart from the iconic Steve Jobs and Zuckerberg.

Nonetheless, this is no way an indication to drop your graduation plan and start a trade right away. But in case you cannot continue with the graduation program or have to leave midway, then it won’t bring any harm to your business, as long as you have the zeal to innovate and stand out. Your motivation for the day – If they can do it, so can you!

“If you can dream it, you can do it.” – Walt Disney

4. You are too young to start a business or get an internship

Sound familiar? Well, this is yet another man-made small business rule that keeps coming in between one’s aspirations and dreams. Being young has nothing to do with businesses if you have the motivation to start something on your own with a focused mindset.

Rather, a young entrepreneur has greater advantages as compared to that of the mid-aged one. As you get older, taking risks and being flexible and dynamic might be a problem, but such is not the case with the youngsters. They are agile, more liberal, open to changes and risk takers. As you know, taking risks in business is the first step towards attaining success.

5. Not all social media campaigns work well for the business

Social media is a terrific platform for all small business owners aiming to invest less and generate more revenue. On the contrary, you can’t actually be too confident about it. You never know who’s available on which platform. The internet is a big thing, and you can’t get enough of it.

Because of this, choose to make a difference, sell your ideas, promote your products in as many social media sites possible, and leave no possibilities unexplored. Remember, digital marketing costs less than the traditional methodologies.

6. You have to have a plan drafted for seamless operations

Planning is always crucial to every business, but bringing compulsion to it and not being flexible enough to think anything beyond a drafted plan can at times bring limitations. There are moments when you need to plan things up quickly and make smart decisions early in the process.

Every time you would call your team for a meeting or sit with pen and paper and spend hours brainstorming, you might lose out on opportunities that your competitors might already have grabbed with agility, confidence and smartness. At times, you need to think beyond drafted agendas. That’s all you need for a quick transmutation!

“Management is all about managing in the short term, while developing the plans for the long term.” – Jack Welch

7. Follow what your successful competitors are doing

To draw inspiration and ideas is one thing, but following them blindly is another. If you want your business products and services to be remembered with great brand recall values, then it’s time to make a move, and think beyond tried and tested strategies. Trying out the good old approaches and sticking to the conventional ideas of marketing is good, but that won’t help your target audience experience or explore something new and catchy, will it?

So, here’s your chance to try out the untried, break the unbreakable, jump beyond your boundaries, think beyond all limitations and achieve what you wish for. Your business is in your hands, make it a big one.

Do you want to start a business? If so, what would you like it to be? Let us know in the comments below!

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3 Signs You Are Operating With Negative Energy as an Entrepreneur

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When you first think about becoming an entrepreneur you hear about how it won’t be easy and it’s going to take some time to make a profit, and you might even hear about how many ideas will fail before you actually get that one idea that will blow up and bring you the success that you are looking for.

After hearing all of that, you decided to start your entrepreneurial journey anyway. You climbed, you worked hard, you worked weekends, and holidays. You invested time, money, and sweat into your business. You also put systems in place that cost you a pretty penny and after all of that, nothing seemed to work.

So you did even more market research and you got a business coach and after all of that you still are not seeing the results you desire and now you are ready to throw in the towel. STOP! Don’t throw in the towel just yet! It might not be the systems, your message, or even your website, it just might be your energy.

Your energy will help to attract or repel people

There are five ways that will make your energy a repellent instead of a paying customer attraction. Your energy makes up a huge factor of what you bring to the table and it is not just about your attitude. Yes, your attitude plays a huge role but, there are also other factors that you need to know about as well. Your energy is the vibrational vibe that you are sending out to the world. We all have it but are you being intentional?

The only way you can be intentional is for you to understand how your energy works. Have you ever walked by someone or something and got the chills? You just knew something was not right. You may not have been able to tell exactly what it was but you knew it didn’t feel right to you so you just avoided that person or area.

“Reality is created by the mind, we can change our reality by changing our mind.”  Plato

What about when you think of someone and get butterflies in your stomach? We all could use some butterflies every now and then. That energy feels good right? It feels exciting and it gives you a sense of knowing that is pleasant that we wouldn’t mind experiencing again.

That is exactly what you can make people feel like before they even physically meet you or buy from you. Either you’re going to give them the chills or you’re going to give them butterflies. If you desire to give the people who you are supposed to be serving butterflies instead of chills, you’ve got to start focusing on your energy every single day. Getting your energy to the level that you want it to be to give you the results that you desire is a process that takes time that will eventually pay off.

Here are three of the five things that you can stop doing immediately to start seeing your energy give off the signals that you desire:

1. You not confronting the person in the mirror

In one place in your entrepreneurial journey or another, you dropped the ball, you neglected yourself, you gave into your fears, or worst, you quit. Have you apologized to yourself? Have you had that honest conversation with yourself telling yourself how what you did or didn’t do made you feel? If you haven’t yet had that conversation, have it, forgive yourself, and let it go! Holding on to the past only overloads your energy with negative energy so that there is no room for the positive energy that you desire to come through. The more often you do this the better. At the least, you should do this once a month.

2. You haven’t embraced your authentic self

The reason why you first started your entrepreneurial journey was because you were passionate about something. You were passionate about being your own boss, being a positive contributor to the world, and making lots of money while doing it and somehow during your journey, you lost who you were and what you were truly passionate about. You have to go on a journey back to self and embrace your authentic self. That is what your people that you haven’t found yet are attracted to and waiting for desire from you.

“Opportunities multiply as they are seized.” – Sun Tzu

3. You are not learning what life is teaching

There are different seasons for life just like there are different seasons in a calendar year. Are you aware what season of life you are in right now? If so, are you learning the lesson that you need to learn so that you won’t be in the negative energy of repeating the same cycles? If you are not being consciously aware of the seasons of when you are supposed to reflect, tear down, purge, and build then you are bound to repeat the cycle again.

There is a lot of work that goes into becoming a successful entrepreneur and at times it can really get discouraging. It may feel like you have tried everything and nothing seems to be giving you the break through that you desire. Before you throw in the towel or feel like a complete failure, try to shift your energy by doing the three things stated above.

How do you shift out of negativity? Comment below!

Image courtesy of Twenty20.com

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7 Tips for Learning Key Skills on the Fly as an Entrepreneur

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Starting your own company is undoubtedly one of the most exciting things you can do, but it is also one of the most challenging. From destructive personal habits to a lack of knowledge about how to properly run a business, there are many roadblocks that can keep you from achieving the success you so greatly desire.

The problem is, many people don’t have the time to enroll in additional business classes at school to learn these new skills. This is especially true of those who have already launched their startup and are now discovering that their skill set is somewhat lacking.

So how do you keep your lack of knowledge from bringing about a premature end to your entrepreneurial dreams? To achieve lasting success, you’ll have to develop the ability to learn these important skills “on the fly” as you simultaneously manage your company.

Here are 7 ways you can make this happen:

1. Leverage Failure

Failure is an unavoidable aspect of the business world. Even when you seem to have a great product and great team, failure is always a possibility. In fact, industries with the highest startup success rates still see 42 percent of new companies fail within their first four years of operation.

Though failure is hard, it is essential that you take a step back and assess why you failed. This allows you to gain key insights that will help you perform better in the future. As serial entrepreneur and investor Steve Tan recalls, “I’ve been involved in e-commerce since 2005. During that time, I’ve had four startups that went under. It was very hard — depressing, even, but I didn’t give up. By evaluating the reasons why my past efforts had failed, I was able to use these lessons to launch a company with my brother that now has an eight-figure annual revenue.”

2. Become a Self-Starter

Successful learners need to be self-motivated. As Jack Canfield explains, “World-class achievers don’t wait until external influences – such as a teacher, manager or boss, or new developments within an industry – force them to gain new skills or knowledge. They are self-motivated learners who are constantly looking for new ways to improve their performance and deepen their understanding of the world around them.”

To learn on the fly as an entrepreneur, you need to develop a desire to make active learning a key part of everything you do. This requires humility and self-awareness. An inner drive for improvement will help you be a more successful learner than if you were forced into change by external forces.

“Talent you have naturally. Skill is only developed by hours and hours and hours of beating on your craft.” – Will Smith

3. Set Goals

Even if you’re self-motivated, it can be hard to maintain focus on learning activities when you have so many other entrepreneurial duties on your plate. Smart goal-setting is essential for keeping on track. If you want to learn more about social media marketing, creating a specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound goal will be far more effective than having a vague desire to learn.

Goal-setting gives you the tools to track your progress toward learning milestones. As you use smart goals to remain focused and committed to on the fly learning, you’ll be better positioned to achieve actual results.

4. Find the ‘Why’

If you don’t feel as motivated to learn, it can help to focus on the why. Why do you need to understand Facebook and other social media platforms? Why should you learn about supply chain management?

As you more closely examine how such issues impact your company’s bottom line, you can find the motivation you need to make learning a priority. When this happens, you’ll be more likely to constantly search for new learning opportunities, making it far easier to learn in a hectic environment.

5. Set Aside Time Every Day

When you have a busy schedule, it can be easy for certain activities to fall by the wayside. More often than not, if you don’t carve out some “learning time” in your calendar, there’s a good chance you’ll end the day without taking any time to learn at all.

While it’s true that many of the best entrepreneurial learning opportunities are entirely unstructured, setting aside a period of structured “study time” demonstrates a level of commitment that will help you keep on track with your learning goals. Even using as little as 15 minutes to read a how-to article or work on a learning project will pay big dividends over time.

6. Look for Structured Opportunities

You don’t have to sign up for a class at your local community college to gain access to expert knowledge. It’s easier than ever to find knowledgable, authoritative resources that will help you develop the skills necessary to keep your business on track. From articles published by other entrepreneurs to online courses, there are countless resources you can use — and many of them are completely free.

Professional conferences can be especially valuable. Industry-specific conferences often focus on the trends and skills that will have a direct impact on your startup’s success. Better yet, conferences also create valuable networking opportunities that can help you foster new growth opportunities.

“Learning never exhausts the mind.” – Leonardo da Vinci

7. Get Hands-On

To become a successful learner, you need to put aside any fears about “not knowing enough” and start practicing. Studies have found that students who learn by doing perform better than their peers. The same is true in the business world.

At the end of the day, nothing beats hands-on learning. If you’re trying to learn a new language so you can better communicate with your customers, you’ll learn much quicker as you practice speaking, rather than simply reading from a textbook. Personal engagement in the activity you are trying to master is the best bet for mastery.

As Jim Rohn famously said, “Formal education will make you a living; self-education will make you a fortune.” To achieve lasting success, you have to become a learner. This requires that you examine what factors could keep you from reaching your ultimate goals and then take action to gain the skills and knowledge that will allow you to address these issues. As you strive to become a continual learner, you’ll cultivate the tools you need to become successful.

What new skill are you currently working on? Share with me in the comment section below!

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How to Know When to Move on From a Business Idea

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We all have “lightbulb” moments from time to time. As an entrepreneur, you’ve made your living off of turning these moments into business practices. Whatever the case, every idea has a lifespan. At some point, it’ll either work for you or it won’t. If it’s not working, then you need to know the right time to move on. Otherwise, you’ll pour your time and resources into a bottomless pit.

Sure, there’s something to be said for persistence, but sometimes persistence can just lead you further down the wrong path and cause you to bang your head against the wall. We’d like to help you prevent that!

Here are 4 signs that you should move on from a business idea:

1. You’ve Completely Lost Your Passion for It

You no longer have the fire you used to have for the idea. What started out as a passion has quickly dwindled to the point where everything about it feels like a chore. You can’t see yourself working in the industry or on the idea for much longer – and certainly not for the amount of time it’ll take for it to become a lasting success.

You can keep plowing forward and ignore this lost passion, but it’ll chip away at your happiness and start to sap your energy, even if it has the potential to become profitable.

“Do what you love. Know your own bone; gnaw at it, bury it, unearth it, and gnaw it still.” – Henry David Thoreau

2. The Profit Margin is Too Low

Low profit margins create low margins for error. This becomes even more problematic when you’re dealing with tough competition in a potential “race to the bottom” of pricing. If the profit margin will be too low and you can’t figure out a way to increase it, perhaps through negotiation with potential vendors or cutting out some other part of the cost, then the idea may no longer be worth pursuing.

When calculating profit margin, make sure to calculate the net profit margin. This takes total sales and subtracts it by business expenses. Keep in mind that profit margins will vary from industry to industry.

3. You Can’t Validate It

If you struggle to validate your idea, it’s a sign that people probably don’t want or need it. For example, if you run Facebook ads to a landing page with an email opt-in to learn more about your idea, and it generates hardly any clicks, then people may not be interested.

You can try other mediums for testing and validating your idea. You can even try to “pre-sell” it, so that you get sales before you even move forward with creating it. But if all of your attempts see lackluster results, then listen to what the market is telling you. They don’t want your idea in its current state. You can either pivot and tweak your idea, or move on to something else. Because if you start pouring your resources into an idea like this, you’re bound to lose on that investment.

4. It’s Confusing

Can you easily explain your idea to potential customers and others in few sentences? If not, then it’s probably a little too confusing. Confusing ideas struggle to achieve large customer bases, because they struggle to invoke desire in customers. How can somebody want a product or service if they don’t understand what problem it solves, or what it actually does?

If your idea is confusing, you should work to simplify it and create an “elevator pitch”, then test it out by explaining it to people. If that still doesn’t work, then it may be time to move on to something else.

“Don’t find customers for your products, find products for your customers.” – David Ogilvy

You shouldn’t take every idea and use it. Instead, you should realize when it’s time to move on from one idea so you can devote more resources to your next endeavor.  It’s hard to move on, especially if you’ve invested a lot into your idea. But if you see any of the signs we’ve listed here, then it’s time to move forward.

Have you ever had an idea you thought would be successful but you had to move on from it? Let us know in the comments below so we can all help each other push forward and succeed.

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