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5 Ways College Grads Can Embrace Entrepreneurship

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It’s never too early to pursue your dream of becoming an entrepreneur, yet when you graduate college, you might feel like you’re not quite ready to jump fully into an entrepreneurial endeavor. Perhaps you feel like you don’t have enough experience, or perhaps you’d just like to get a more conventional job and save a little bit of money first.

Perhaps you’re already anxious to start your first business and you can’t wait to get it going. Whatever the case, you can lay the groundwork for your entrepreneurial endeavors early on.

Below are 5 ways new college grads can embrace entrepreneurship:

1. Get a Sales Job

No matter what line of work you’re in, you’re selling something. You’re selling yourself as well as whatever product or service you represent. This is especially true as an entrepreneur. If you don’t know how to sell, you’ll probably have a rough go of it at the beginning and selling definitely doesn’t come natural to everybody.

As a result, you could benefit from getting a sales job early on in your career. This will help you learn the ins and outs of sales, get comfortable with sales rejection, and learn how to persuade people.

If you already know what type of business you want to start, then aim to get a sales job in that industry. This will be even more powerful for you later on since sales is a grind. Nonetheless,everything you learn in the sales job will help you be a more successful entrepreneur later on.

2. Work at a Small Startup

It’s one thing to work at a big company where you feel like nothing more than a cog in a giant machine. It’s a whole different experience to work in a small startup where you interact with leadership everyday and can see how the business runs.

This will give you the opportunity to ask questions, learn from the triumphs and mistakes of the leaders, and see a type of management style up close.

When you start your own company, you’ll be able to see the bigger picture. You can see things from the point of view of your employees as well as your own point of view as a CEO/founder type of figure.

“Just try new things. Don’t be afraid. Step out of your comfort zones and soar, all right?” – Michelle Obama

3. Learn Other Marketable Skills

As an entrepreneur, you need to have a general understanding of a lot of different skills such as copywriting, design, marketing, management, and sales. That way, when you eventually hire for those positions, you’ll know how to spot a potential rockstar employee who has the capacity to do a good job.

Spend some time learning marketable skills, and especially those that are related to the industry you’re most interested in. These skills may even help you get a freelancing gig, which we’ll talk about next…

4. Consider Freelancing

It takes discipline to work and build something on your own. For some people, that discipline is more difficult to develop than others. So, you should consider freelancing online. This will help you get comfortable working from home, and give you the first taste of online success.

Freelancing can add a nice chunk to your monthly income as well, which increases your financial runway and gives you more time to get your eventual business up and running. It’ll also help you potentially make valuable connections within your future industry, which will help accelerate your entrepreneurial success.

5. Move to a City Filled With Entrepreneurs

It’s difficult to understand the lifestyle of an entrepreneur until you’re around it and see it for yourself. So, you should connect with as many entrepreneurs as possible. This will help you understand things from their perspective and get you acclimated with the lifestyle. It’ll also help you determine what type of business you should start.

Luckily, there are plenty of cities in the USA where entrepreneurship is growing rapidly. You can start with any one of these 7 US cities that are great for young entrepreneurs.

All life demands struggle. Those who have everything given to them become lazy, selfish, and insensitive to the real values of life. The very striving and hard work that we so constantly try to avoid is the major building block in the person we are today.” – Pope Paul V

The job market is more competitive than ever, and as a result, working for yourself as an entrepreneur is a smart long term move. It’s never too early to get started with your own entrepreneurial pursuits, even if you’re a new college graduate.

Whether you’re ready to start your first business right now, or you simply want to gain experience to jumpstart your career and lead yourself down a path towards entrepreneurship, these tips will help you make your goals a reality.

How are you making steps towards becoming your own boss one day? Let us know in the comments below!

Image courtesy of Twenty20.com

Parker Davis is the CEO of Nexa, a leader in the virtual receptionist and technology-enabled answering services industry. He believes that the application of data analytics, investment in technology, and fostering a positive company culture together create highly efficient and scalable growth companies. In 2016, Nexa achieved record revenues while also being awarded the Top Companies to Work For in Arizona award. Parker is also the Managing Partner of Annison Capital Partners, LLC, a private investment partnership. Follow him @callnexa and on Facebook and LinkedIn.

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Entrepreneurs

3 Ways to Remove the Hustle From Your Business Through the Power of Automation

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If you’re anything like me, when building your business online you may see asking for help or taking short cuts as cheating. I can’t explain why but when I first launched my business online, I wanted so badly to be able to do everything for myself. It gave me more of a sense of achievement, and I worked many extra hours than I probably needed to trying to do everything myself.

The admin, content creation, marketing, prospecting, web design…I’m sure you get the picture. But it all came to a head when I would burn myself out time and time again. I kept hitting a wall where my business was concerned as there was only 1 of me and only limited hours in the day.

I got bored of the hustle and thought there must be a much simpler way to build and market a business online. Especially as I was a single mother, looking after my child when I wasn’t running a business single handedly. That’s when I discovered something that not only gave me back my freedom but also transformed my business, bringing in enough revenue within 8 weeks to enable me to leave the day job and become a work from home mum.

It was the power of automation!

I looked all around me as well at the other mum’s building their businesses online but desperately struggling to make ends meet and wearing themselves out. I knew there was a way to simplify my sales and business processes.

Here are my top 3 recommended tools to start removing the hustle from your business today:

1. Messenger marketing

I use Manychat which is a messenger marketing platform which enables you to market to your subscribers directly through Facebook messenger. The ways in which you can use this incredible technology is endless but I will name a few ways in which you can use this in your business.

Automate your sales process! You can build a sales funnel with a messenger bot that can take your prospects through a warm up sequence, build the relationship with them, showcase all of your products and services and even take payments on autopilot.

You can register people for online events or training sessions using your messenger bot, communicate with everyone simultaneously and provide any updates direct to their messenger.

Do you have a membership, team or group of people you need to communicate with? Create a messenger bot specifically for them to enable you to communicate with everyone directly at the same time with just 1 click of a button. Subscription messages can also be sent and scheduled in advance.

“The first rule of any technology used in a business is that automation applied to an efficient operation will magnify the efficiency. The second is that automation applied to an inefficient operation will magnify the inefficiency.” – Bill Gates

2. Email marketing

Another form of digital marketing, email marketing has been around for some time but still very much has a place in today’s marketing world. You can use a lead page/landing page and an account with an email provider to automate all aspects of your sales process and communicate regularly with your subscribers.

Treat your list well, provide them with valuable content and you can build a tribe of loyal followers. If you match this with an ongoing ad campaign you have the ability to be making sales on autopilot.

Set your automation up and you can take your leads through your whole sales process and all the way up your product/service value ladder. If you sell digital products such as courses, this allows you to be earning a residual income whilst you sleep.

3. Automate your social media content

Zapier is the most incredible workflow automation tool I have ever come across. Allowing you to create automations between most apps that you can use online. For example, if you use spreadsheets, you can create a trigger every time a new entry is entered on your google sheet with an email address, they automatically get added to your mailing list and sent automated emails.

My favourite zap (an automation created between 2 apps) is between Trello and Buffer. You can connect both apps together in a seamless way which allows you to plan your social media content in Trello, write your content, set the date you wish the content to post, add an image and this will automatically send all of the information to your Buffer account and schedule the post for your social media accounts.

Even more incredible is that this system works across multiple platforms so you can use it to schedule content for Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn and Instagram all at the same time.

“Automation and technology don’t cure behavioural ruts; they just create new instances of them.” – Kenneth Goldsmith

I can’t even begin to tell you how much my life has changed since implementing these into my business. In just 3 months my income increased by 500%. So it’s time to relax and start implementing some automation into that business of yours. The hustle is all a myth.

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5 Challenges New Entrepreneurs Will Face While Starting a Business

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Entrepreneurship is a field that comes with many obstacles and challenges. It’s important to be aware that sometimes it can be extremely difficult, especially for first-time entrepreneurs.

Before you launch your business, you need to be well equipped to face the challenges that’ll surely come your way. Mark Victor Hansen, Founder and Co-creator of the Chicken Soup for the Soul book series, said “You don’t become enormously successful without encountering a number of extremely challenging problems.”

Here are the 5 challenges that you are likely to face and how you can overcome them:

1. Lifestyle Change

The experiences of entrepreneurship will change you profoundly, from the way you think, to how you act, to your manner of living. You begin to realize you’re not getting enough sleep, have little time for yourself, can’t spend the same amount of time with friends, and you get complaints from people closest to you This is all because you’re putting most, if not all your energy and focus into running your business.

The solution, in order to sustain your passion, is to make some tough choices and identify your priorities. You’ll need to sacrifice much while you learn new things. You can start by organizing your day the night before, by creating a list of your activities for the next day in terms of priority.

Constantly, visualize your destination and surround yourself with people that motivate, inspire and push you to be your best self. By the time you apply these principles, you’ll feel more relaxed and energized.

2. Facing Uncertainty

When you launch your business, even if you offer the best product or service in your industry, you’re bound to face uncertainty.

Your marketing strategy might fail, your customers may not be ready for your product or service because it’s too early, and your competition may be a little bit tougher than expected. Even if you’re able to handle all of this, it doesn’t mean you’ll get your desired paycheck. However, keep in mind, that if you are well prepared, you’ll be in the best position to handle any of these roadblocks without stress.

An important thing to do is to test your product in the marketplace. By doing this, you will observe how the market views your product or service and can get feedback as well. If you do this right, you’ll be on your way to launching a successful business. The joy that eventually comes from launching a successful business is the greatest feeling ever.

“Exploring the unknown requires tolerating uncertainty.” – Brian Greene

3. Team Building

Recruiting a trustworthy and reliable team is an important part of building a successful business. Every entrepreneur should know it’s important to recruit a strong team because your team can either make or break your business.

Lawrence Bossidy, Former Chairman and CEO of Honeywell, once said “I am convinced that nothing we do is more important than hiring and developing people. At the end of the day, you bet on people not on strategies.” The common mistake new entrepreneurs make is hiring too quickly and if this doesn’t turn out well, you might be setting yourself up for failure before you even begin.

One solution is to hire individuals you already know or get references from people you trust from your professional life. Having the right people around is significant because they will influence your decisions and therefore the success of your business. Choose wisely.

4. Capital Management

One of the major reasons many startups fail within the first few months of business is because of capital mismanagement. The common mistakes entrepreneurs make are spending prematurely and not separating personal account from your corporate account. Spending too early on items like business cards and marketing materials might just end up being too costly for your startup.

You need to stay on top of your cash flow by keeping track of all your business expenses. You need to create a budget and set up an emergency fund account. You may decide to hire an accountant to help handle your finances, so they can assist you in fine-tuning where the money goes.

“Money is usually attracted, not pursued.” – Jim Rohn

5. Loneliness

Starting and running a business can be very stressful. This pressure can cause entrepreneurs to feel alone and maybe even depressed. If it’s extreme, you may develop mental health problems. Studies show that 30% of entrepreneurs report a lifetime history of depression.

It’s vital to reach out to your support system regularly. Family, close friends or mentors can be a big help in getting you back to your best. Once in a while get together with your family and friends and do some fun activities.

Starting a business has it’s challenges but if you’re prepared and know what’s ahead or what to expect, it will be a little less surprising when you run into an obstacle and you’ll be able to take the hit better than you thought!

Have you wanted to start a business? If so, what’s holding you back from pursuing it 100%? Share your thoughts with us below so we can be of service to you!

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9 Ways to Help You Think Like an Entrepreneur

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Going by popular opinion, being an entrepreneur seems a lot more thrilling than the typical 9-to-5 job. No bosses anymore, no pressure of completing the work in a rush, and no limited paycheck. Sure, an entrepreneur doesn’t have to go through the daily grind. However, there is so much more to the life of an entrepreneur.

Being an entrepreneur is like treading on thin ice. The moment you decide to be one, 9-to-5 will almost turn to 24×7. Your consumers will become your new bosses, and the size of your pay check will differ from month to month. If you still want to venture into it with the resolve to work hard and the willingness to innovate, you can join the club.

Now, to make your journey a little smooth, here’s presenting some pertinent ways to think like an entrepreneur:

1. Pinning your hopes in one place takes you on the road to disaster

To think like an accomplished entrepreneur, you must know that these professionals would never place all of his/her hopes in one place. Too much dependence on luck could be detrimental to the business that you are working on.

In reality, you must always be prepared for things that might never go as planned. There’s no point in being dejected about the way things are unfolding. Instead, you have to be willing to go with the flow and simply accept things as they come.

2. Treat your decision making skill like a superpower

You must be familiar with the iconic dialogue from the movie Spiderman, “With great power comes great responsibility.” Well, it’s the same with entrepreneurship.

As an entrepreneur, you’ll be the person to make decisions and be quick at it. Now, over-analysing things can take up a lot of time, and you may miss out on many opportunities along the way. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take time to decide, or shouldn’t ask experienced people for advice. When required, you must act quickly. Make more space for big decisions, and do away with the small ones.

3. Wear your confidence like an armour

This is one of the most significant aspects of developing an entrepreneurial mindset. You should have self-confidence in abundance and immense faith in your abilities. If you keep doubting and second-guessing every decision, then you will never be able to take risks.

An entrepreneur is aware of the fact that he/she is the captain of their ship. The moment he/she starts to flounder or display any signs of weakness and insecurity, the workers and investors are bound to lose faith in him/her. This is something that is harmful to any business.

“Don’t live down to expectations. Go out there and do something remarkable.” – Wendy Wasserstein

4. Never let failures get to your head (or heart)

Failures and struggles are as inevitable as the sunrise and sunset. The value of your success increases tenfold if you have gone through an insurmountable struggle.

A skilled entrepreneur always thinks in a way that they’re both willing to accept failure and success with open arms. They would never let failures bring them to heel, and at the same time won’t bask too long in the glory of successes.

If you develop such an attitude to your work and develop a positive way of thinking, then there’s no stopping you from making it big as an entrepreneur.

5. Taking calculated risks comes with the territory

An entrepreneur has to be well-versed with taking calculated risks. You should be happy when things go as planned and should gracefully accept when things don’t exactly go the way you want.

Ultimately, to thrive and prosper in today’s business landscape, it’s vital to take risks. Make sure you take risks after doing your homework. This is exactly how successful entrepreneurs think and make decisions. Make sure once you’ve made a decision, you stand by it. After all, there is no point in constantly thinking if you have done the best for your business.

6. Always stay updated with relevant information

Like every successful entrepreneur, you too have to be acquainted with the latest advancements in your field. In order to gather sufficient knowledge, you have to keep your eyes and ears open to what’s happening around you. It’s only when you’re clued in to what’s going on in the world around you, that you’ll be able to collect relevant information.

This, in turn, will help you to get ahead in life. Isolating or cutting yourself off from the rest of the world will only create a roadblock in your way to success and prevent you from moving forward.

7. Ignorance isn’t a bliss when it comes to good advice

Connecting with people in your field allows you to develop the thought process of an entrepreneur. You must interact with the industry experts and influential figures in your line of work because they’ll help you sway your thought process in the right direction.

If you are ignorant towards good advice that people offer, then you are likely to end up making mistakes. In the fiercely competitive world of business, finding a mentor to guide you in your journey to success is absolutely invaluable.

“If you cannot see where you are going, ask someone who has been there before.” – J Loren Norris

8. Your qualifications will always be useful

Having the right qualifications will propel you to think like an entrepreneur. Being an entrepreneur involves hardships and turbulence, and the journey won’t always be smooth. You must be ready to counter any and every obstacle that is thrown your way.

An entrepreneur is someone who has a flair for thinking. That’s how they come up with solutions to problems that present themselves all of a sudden. Having appropriate training and qualifications can help you with your problem-solving skills.

For instance, if you want to set up an industry specific company, you must have the right training and qualifications to understand the nuances of the business.

9. Positivity will take you forward

In order to help an organization move forward, an entrepreneur knows that it is essential to stay positive at all times. If he/she gives in to negativity, then it won’t be long before the employees fall prey to the negative feelings.

Accomplished entrepreneurs are smart enough to ensure that the negative vibes do not affect the workflow. It’s no secret that when you maintain a positive outlook, you will also motivate your subordinates to work efficiently.

These are some ideas you can implement in your daily life to think like an entrepreneur. While entrepreneurship may come across as thrilling, there is a lot of hard work that goes into it. However, be assured that if you put your heart and soul into it, success will never evade you.

Which one of the 9 ways to help you think like an entrepreneur resonated most with you? Let us know your thoughts below!

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10 Productivity and Business Hacks for Early Stage Entrepreneurs

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1Entrepreneurs’ work style is crazy, yet full of passion. Can you guess their success formula? Hard work? Dedication? Passion? Yes, all cumulatively, but smart entrepreneurs work with better productivity. It’s the way to their success.

Growing as an entrepreneur, especially after you have been used to a steady pay, company-paid health insurance, and a retirement savings program can be a bit scary. And you would not do a commitment to this if you don’t have a strong passion for your product, service and for being out on your own, as well as a willingness to take risks. You still have so much to comprehend about business operations, but if you’re engaged, fair enough for now.

To help you sidestep some of the common pitfalls, here are ten productivity tips for new entrepreneurs:

1. Cultivate Your Business Strategy

Before you launched, you put together at least an informal business plan. You set goals for where you wanted to be at certain benchmark points, and you listed the things to be done to get there. Now that you are a few months or more into your launch, it’s time to revisit that plan. You have a better “feel” for things, and you may need to modify. You should also think about formalizing the document so that when the time comes, you have something to show would-be investors.

2. Financial End of the Business

Initially, things go smoothly. You have a record of all of your start-up costs (these till be tax-deductible), and you are keeping a record of all of your monthly expenses – production costs, marketing, supplies, etc. You are also tracking all of your sales and the gross income from those. If you are still doing this by hand, stop. Get a basic accounting software package, and get all of this streamlined. You won’t need anything fancy and complex, but you probably will in the future. Most of them automatically prepare your tax returns too – a huge time saver.

3. Marketing

In the early phase, marketing acts as one of the most vibrant segments of your business activities. Initially, you barely have industry connections. You may not have direct contracts. You immediately need initial business and referrals. You need to get your voice out there, and build relationships.

If you have not formed a comprehensive marketing maneuvering, you need one now. Is your website full of authoritative, informative pages? Are you embracing customer reviews and referrals? What about PPC and display advertising? Does it have a place on the annual budget? Are your physical stores (if you have) getting enough foot traffic? Hope you’ve gone through maps listing and optimization.

“Everyone can tell you the risk. An entrepreneur can see the reward.” – Robert Kiyosaki

4. Legal Reflections

You of course have your business registered with local, state, and federal entities. But there are other legal considerations as well. Depending upon your product or service, do you need liability insurance and statements of indemnification; if your business involves contracts with clients, are they clean, clear and tight? You need an attorney to cover all the bases, so don’t scrimp on finding and using a good one.

5. Time Management

This can become a big issue and really hurt productivity if you are not very careful. Working on your own, especially with a home office, means that your hours are flexible, of course, but they cannot be “loose.” And you cannot hop from one activity to the next and back again, taking any interruptions as they come along.

You need to block out chunks of time for your tasks, and stick to those as much as possible. If you decide that email correspondence will happen from 12-1 every day, then that’s when it happens. Let your answering machine get your calls if you are deep into a project. Mapping every day according to an agenda keeps you on-task and focused.

6. Team Meetings

This is offbeat “killer” for productivity. If you have a trio, meet on a regularly scheduled base. And keep those meetings brief and to the point. Have an agenda, reach what must be covered, and close it out.

7. Sales Meetings and Presentations

If you are an e-commerce B2C retailer business, then you will be involved in sales presentations to dormant customers, except those that are done online, through your marketing campaigns. If you do have sales appointments, however, go in with a practiced presentation that is short and to the point. Hark more than you talk, value questions, and don’t be pushy, no matter how desperate you are for an order confirmation. Endure “no” or “I’ll think about it” with a smile, and leave the opportunity open for future conversation

8. Fine Tune Your Networking

Whether your networking is all online or a combination of online and on-the-ground, join as many networking groups as possible. You’ll learn a lot from the veterans, you’ll make great contacts, and your brand will be spread just that much more.

9. Develop an Elevator Pitch

Write one, practice it until it comes out naturally, and you will be ready for any introduction or conversation that comes around to the question, “What do you do?” Your pitch should be 30-seconds long at most, should be creative and delivered with enthusiasm, and followed by the handing over of a business card. You’ll use this at weddings, parties, conferences, and at bars – any place where you will come into contact with strangers. There are a lot of online sites as resources for pitch creation – use them to craft a truly engaging one.

“Entrepreneurship is neither a science nor an art. It is a practice.” – Peter Drucker

10. Guard Your Health

Operating your own business means crazy long hours, at least in the commencement, and it’s obvious to skip routines, exercise, a mode to missing meals or, worse, eating way too much fast food. You have to carry this in mind always: Who will run the business if you are sick or emotionally exhausted?

You shouldn’t do hectic work hours taking a toll on your health. Instead, you should aim for:

  • Exercising daily at least thirty minutes
  • Quit smoking
  • Proper sleep
  • Eating fruits and vegetables daily
  • Avoid distracting useless data
  • Disrupt unhealthy habits
  • Learn the art of applying a proper work-life balance
  • Take regular breaks
  • Enjoy the moment

Some leaders try to do more than they should. Are you one of those? Do you like to delegate tasks and only keep an eye on the entire process? Or are you involved in every single activity happening out there? If so, what’s your productivity formula?

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