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6 Common Stages You Will Go Through When Becoming An Entrepreneur

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6 Common Stages You Will Go Through Becoming An Entrepreneur

Have you crossed that bridge yet? The one where you walk over to the entrepreneurial side (we’ve got cookies!)?

Or are you still looking at the wobbliness of the bridge itself? And at how crazy wild that river below is…And at all the alligators there waiting to get you…And you are still not risking it even though you can see the unicorns prance in fields of 4-leaved clovers and double rainbows stretch as far as the eye can see on the other side?

Ai, that sucks! But…it’s perfectly normal to be afraid of that giant step!

In fact, there are 6 stages that most people taking the leap from a steady job to entrepreneurialism go through:

 

Stage 1: Where you experience a nagging, gnawing knowing of something you’d rather didn’t

This is what happened to me; I was building the career I had always set out for myself. A career that included regular promotions, valuable lessons, great peers to work with and the accompanying great pay and car.

But, I also felt like I was continuously fighting political windmills and had to drag myself to work everyday even though on the outside everything looked just fine and dandy.

That’s when it started to dawn on me that this type of career was making me unhappy. But as it was all I knew and had ever wanted, I didn’t do anything about it for a long time and ended up (almost) burning myself out.

“You cannot swim for new horizons until you have courage to lose sight of the shore” – William Faulkner

Stage 2: Where you’re afraid of the void

But this was my life. This was all built on the studies I had done. This was what my friends were doing. What was the alternative?

Slowly it came to me that freelancing might give me the freedom I so longed for (I know, not ‘proper’ entrepreneuring perhaps but still…big change!). But instead of already smelling the freedom, all I saw was a big black whole of nothingness (mainly money) coming up ahead and all I felt was a big swirling fear in my stomach.

 

Stage 3: Where you come up with a million excuses to NOT do it

Even though rationally I knew I could do this, and even though I really really wanted to do this, I still had a ton of reasons why this was such a bad idea:

  • I believed that deep down I wasn’t good at my job (hellooo impostor syndrome!).
  • I believed that because I have a non-traditional way of looking at a business, no company would ever want to hire me.
  • I believed that I had to do traditional sales stuff to get myself hired and I was totally allergic to that!

 

Belief systems…sigh…so useless!

“The true entrepreneur is a doer, not a dreamer” – Nolan Bushnell

Stage 4: When it becomes undeniably clear that things need to change

So after a terribly long stint of being unhappy in my work, and therefore my life, I was ‘lucky’ enough to fall into a corporate reorganisation and that management had decided something that went way beyond what I felt was acceptable.

Through this, I finally got to that point where I could say to myself: NO MORE!

Ah, how liberating it felt to say NO to that what I didn’t think was acceptable.

Really, without that, I couldn’t have done it and finding my ‘NO’ is still pretty much the foundation from which I work and live.

Because when your NO is clear…everything else simply becomes opportunity!

 

Stage 5: Where you can finally see the puzzle pieces come together

It was a good friend and mentor of mine who helped me figure this out. I was complaining on how I would definitely go bankrupt and this was his reply:

Him: “Imagine a worst case scenario where you go bankrupt and have to give all your possessions to the bank: would that kill you?”

Me: “No, it’s all Ikea, Zara and thrifted anyway…”

Him: “Okay, so in that scenario, would you be able to walk the 20 kilometres from your place to mine?”

Me: “Sure!”

Him: “Would you be willing to work in my restaurant whilst sleeping on your brothers couch?”

Me: “Of course”

Him: “And will you then be able to save money for a ticket to Indonesia where you could probably find a diveschool where you could work as a divemaster (I love Indonesia and diving obviously) and business coach for food and lodgings?”

Me: “Euhm…well…probably…”

Him: “So if that’s your very worst case scenario…what are you complaining about?”

Me: “Euhm…nothing??? Damn…”

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Stage 6: Where you take the plunge and start attracting opportunity

So I quit!

Two weeks later I had an amazingly well paid freelance job that gave me the financial opportunity to help my brother build his start up for 2 years AND still have enough resources to take another plunge for myself with my own business.

Now whether I got lucky or whether it was just the universe lining up exactly what I deserved for choosing myself (btw, definitely check out James Altuchers’ book on this!), I don’t know. And it doesn’t even matter!

I can only tell you that it felt really good to be there for myself. Still does!

And no, it’s not all unicorns and rainbows on the entrepreneurial side.

But it is freedom

And passion

And a rollercoaster ride that continues to keep me smiling…

“The only thing we have to fear is fear itself” – Franklin D. Roosevelt

So if you feel like you’re on that edge and that that first step is just too big remember that this is normal.

You can take all the time you need to go through your own stages, but, don’t lose that vision of where you want to go.

Also remember do not ever accept the unacceptable.


Your happiness depends on it!

Linda Coussement is a life coach, writer and documentary maker. She’s slowly travelling the world asking all sorts of people: “How is it to be you?” Get her 10-page workbook on how to turn your dreams into practical reality right here and/or connect with her on Facebook.

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31 Comments

31 Comments

  1. Nancy cripe

    Dec 5, 2015 at 6:03 am

    Spot on! I also went through each of these phases and made the jump 6 weeks ago. My first 6 weeks with out pay since high school. No regrets.

  2. Neha Singh

    Aug 13, 2015 at 10:31 am

    Great Article Lawrence! You have put together the points so well and convincingly. I truly believe that perseverance is one of the most important quality of being successful as an entrepreneur. And, you covered it so well in point #3 where you talk about excuses!

    • Linda Coussement

      Aug 14, 2015 at 5:36 am

      Thanks Neha that’s really kind (though it’s me, Linda, who’s written the article and not Lawrence) 🙂

  3. Ramesh

    Jul 6, 2015 at 2:47 pm

    Hi Linda,

    Great post. Bang on! I can relate to this completely. I have gone thru these stages myself .. taken the plunge ..currently in stage 6.
    In the end .. all I can say is overcoming your fears is the beginning.

    Regards,

  4. Online money maker system

    May 27, 2015 at 8:06 am

    Valuable information. Fortunate me I found your site accidentally, and I’m shocked why
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  5. Mark Tong

    May 15, 2015 at 7:43 am

    Hi Linda
    The stages you describe really rang true to me in all the entrepreneurial enterprises I’ve tried (and am trying!). And none of this worked for me until I went after the opportunity I REALLY wanted, not the one I thought I SHOULD go for.

  6. Quinn Eurich

    May 14, 2015 at 7:13 pm

    I keep telling #5 to myself (sans the whole diving thing) over and over again, because it’s so true!

    Great job Linda! Always a pleasure to read someone who’s been there and done it!

  7. Jamie

    May 8, 2015 at 4:22 pm

    You make it seem less scary! Yes, being an entrepreneur is tough, but it is tougher to live with the regret of not ever trying it! If at first you don’t succeed….

  8. Lynn

    May 8, 2015 at 3:14 pm

    Hi Linda,

    What an insightful post and timely post. A friend is right in stages #2 and #3 so I’ve sent this along to him for a read and hopefully it’s the inspiration he needs!

    • Linda Coussement

      May 8, 2015 at 6:10 pm

      Ahw thanks Lynn! I hope he makes it through to the next stages soon!

  9. Faigie

    May 8, 2015 at 3:00 pm

    I just read the latest INC magazine and in it they interviewed some really successfull young entreupeneur who said they ALL feel like imposters…so you’re in good company 🙂

    • Linda Coussement

      May 10, 2015 at 7:26 am

      haha, that’s good to know and a great topic for my next blogpost actually 🙂

  10. Ann

    May 8, 2015 at 2:54 pm

    The article is spot-on! Anyone going through change experiences those points. I relate to #3.

  11. Rob

    May 8, 2015 at 2:17 pm

    Linda- This is a great post. In my experience, a lot of the crippling fear comes from lack of clarity about how to proceed forward. The entrepreneur isn’t sure the idea is good enough and isn’t sure how to find out.

    • Linda Coussement

      May 10, 2015 at 7:28 am

      Yes that’s what I figured out just the other day too Rob!

  12. Therese Sibon

    May 8, 2015 at 2:10 pm

    wow … so my crazy is NORMAL? And of course – making steps to change your life is not guaranteed success – but it will guarantee movement which engenders change. As you so beautifully wrote – the decision lines up the universe as a support system.

  13. Angela

    May 8, 2015 at 2:08 pm

    So many of us experience this! Thanks for helping us feel less alone. And this quote is my new mantra: Because when your NO is clear…everything else simply becomes opportunity!

    • Linda Coussement

      May 10, 2015 at 7:27 am

      You’re right, I might just make stickers with that mantra and hand them out to coachees 🙂

  14. John Anderson

    May 8, 2015 at 12:30 pm

    I feel like I hit all six stages at once. 🙂 Thank you for writing this wonderful post Linda.

    • Linda Coussement

      May 10, 2015 at 7:29 am

      Wow, that must feel like an emotional tsunami for you! The best of luck with it and thanks for the compliment!

  15. Kim

    May 8, 2015 at 12:01 pm

    I think this scenario is probably way more common than we even think it is. It’s a scary thing and while it would be great if we woke up one day with the aha moment and the “Yes, this is the day,” feeling, in the end however we get there is good. Thank you. This resonated with me.

    • Linda Coussement

      May 8, 2015 at 6:11 pm

      You’re welcome! I would indeed love to wake up to that feeling but unfortunately, we have to create that feeling for ourselves and not just sit around and wait for it to happen!

  16. Helen McCarthy

    May 8, 2015 at 11:44 am

    Thanks Linda for expressing what many of us who change tack feel. Great article.

    • Linda Coussement

      May 8, 2015 at 11:54 am

      Thanks for the compliment Helen! Change is scary and great at the same time, but in the end it’s the only way to move forward!

  17. Ethan

    May 8, 2015 at 10:01 am

    Hey Lawrence, you nailed it.

    All these stages seem to have an underlying fear. (Or is it the image?) It may be wrong, but this fear is what pushes entrepreneur hopefuls to actually act.

    I must admit reading this got me some chills.

    Very inspiring. Thank you!

    • Linda Coussement

      May 8, 2015 at 11:58 am

      I’m sorry to give you chills but I’m taking it as a compliment 🙂
      Yes, fear is the entrepreneurs’ biggest hurdle, no matter what stage he/she is at! But it’s also the hurdle they’re willing to cross time and again because they know that they will profit from it, personally AND business wise.

  18. Linda Coussement

    May 8, 2015 at 9:58 am

    Thanks Lawrence! And yes, the unknown is indeed where most of our fears come from, which is funny because technically there’s not really anything to be scared of. I’m happy you made it to the other side and thank you for sharing!

  19. Chandraka

    May 8, 2015 at 4:25 am

    Absolutely amazing article. I want the writer to know that he has honestly helped someone make a huge decision. My story is very very similar to yours. Right after highschool I went straight to university and studied finance and went straight to work at a bank.

    It was all I knew and studied and wanted to go far in the bank. But I hated going to work everyday, hated it. I never had that excitement to get up in the morning. Like when your younger you get a new video game, you are so excited to start your day. I only had the feeling of dread going to work. But on the outside I was happy and I worked hard and was quite successful. Going in to my fifth year, I was feeling I needed to make big changes.

    I’m from another country and had an opportunity to start a business with my sister and her boyfriend in this foreign country. I was able to start the business while still working as he lived in the foreign country and we would ship various items for export where we are. This business has a chance for great success but to get it there, I need to be there and be more hands on.

    I was contemplating leaving my job at end of the year but during the middle of the year, a general manager at my bank who coincidentally was from the same foreign country offered me a serious promotion and an opportunity to learn from the best at their craft. This threw a serious curveball since I couldn’t leave and get this business off the ground if I took on this promotion.

    I’ve been thinking for a week what to do. Do I want this promotion and live a safe life or chase my wildest dreams and operate a successful business in a beautiful country and be able to travel more. It’s scary decision but your article has helped me to turn down the position. I already was most likely going to say no but this has helped. This incident has actually expedited the process and I will be leaving in a few months instead of at the end of the year

    • Linda Coussement

      May 8, 2015 at 12:02 pm

      Wow Chandraka, that really made my day!

      I’m so happy for you that you were able to make this decision and follow your heart and I’m happy for me that I was able to share this personal story (which was scary in itself) so that you could be inspired.

      If you ever get another bout of the shivers come find me on http://www.fromstartuptogrowup.com for a chat!

      All the best on your amazing adventure!

  20. Lawrence Berry

    May 8, 2015 at 2:30 am

    This is a great article, because it shares with others the tough road to taking a leap of faith into the unknown. I experienced the same things you have mentioned here, and I think the biggest thing that hold people back from entrepreneurship or chasing what they really want in life is the fear of the unknown. When traveling down a path less traveled its very scary but it takes a person to reach a breakthrough to change.

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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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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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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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31 Comments

31 Comments

  1. Nancy cripe

    Dec 5, 2015 at 6:03 am

    Spot on! I also went through each of these phases and made the jump 6 weeks ago. My first 6 weeks with out pay since high school. No regrets.

  2. Neha Singh

    Aug 13, 2015 at 10:31 am

    Great Article Lawrence! You have put together the points so well and convincingly. I truly believe that perseverance is one of the most important quality of being successful as an entrepreneur. And, you covered it so well in point #3 where you talk about excuses!

    • Linda Coussement

      Aug 14, 2015 at 5:36 am

      Thanks Neha that’s really kind (though it’s me, Linda, who’s written the article and not Lawrence) 🙂

  3. Ramesh

    Jul 6, 2015 at 2:47 pm

    Hi Linda,

    Great post. Bang on! I can relate to this completely. I have gone thru these stages myself .. taken the plunge ..currently in stage 6.
    In the end .. all I can say is overcoming your fears is the beginning.

    Regards,

  4. Online money maker system

    May 27, 2015 at 8:06 am

    Valuable information. Fortunate me I found your site accidentally, and I’m shocked why
    this twist of fate didn’t happened earlier! I bookmarked
    it.

  5. Mark Tong

    May 15, 2015 at 7:43 am

    Hi Linda
    The stages you describe really rang true to me in all the entrepreneurial enterprises I’ve tried (and am trying!). And none of this worked for me until I went after the opportunity I REALLY wanted, not the one I thought I SHOULD go for.

  6. Quinn Eurich

    May 14, 2015 at 7:13 pm

    I keep telling #5 to myself (sans the whole diving thing) over and over again, because it’s so true!

    Great job Linda! Always a pleasure to read someone who’s been there and done it!

  7. Jamie

    May 8, 2015 at 4:22 pm

    You make it seem less scary! Yes, being an entrepreneur is tough, but it is tougher to live with the regret of not ever trying it! If at first you don’t succeed….

  8. Lynn

    May 8, 2015 at 3:14 pm

    Hi Linda,

    What an insightful post and timely post. A friend is right in stages #2 and #3 so I’ve sent this along to him for a read and hopefully it’s the inspiration he needs!

    • Linda Coussement

      May 8, 2015 at 6:10 pm

      Ahw thanks Lynn! I hope he makes it through to the next stages soon!

  9. Faigie

    May 8, 2015 at 3:00 pm

    I just read the latest INC magazine and in it they interviewed some really successfull young entreupeneur who said they ALL feel like imposters…so you’re in good company 🙂

    • Linda Coussement

      May 10, 2015 at 7:26 am

      haha, that’s good to know and a great topic for my next blogpost actually 🙂

  10. Ann

    May 8, 2015 at 2:54 pm

    The article is spot-on! Anyone going through change experiences those points. I relate to #3.

  11. Rob

    May 8, 2015 at 2:17 pm

    Linda- This is a great post. In my experience, a lot of the crippling fear comes from lack of clarity about how to proceed forward. The entrepreneur isn’t sure the idea is good enough and isn’t sure how to find out.

    • Linda Coussement

      May 10, 2015 at 7:28 am

      Yes that’s what I figured out just the other day too Rob!

  12. Therese Sibon

    May 8, 2015 at 2:10 pm

    wow … so my crazy is NORMAL? And of course – making steps to change your life is not guaranteed success – but it will guarantee movement which engenders change. As you so beautifully wrote – the decision lines up the universe as a support system.

  13. Angela

    May 8, 2015 at 2:08 pm

    So many of us experience this! Thanks for helping us feel less alone. And this quote is my new mantra: Because when your NO is clear…everything else simply becomes opportunity!

    • Linda Coussement

      May 10, 2015 at 7:27 am

      You’re right, I might just make stickers with that mantra and hand them out to coachees 🙂

  14. John Anderson

    May 8, 2015 at 12:30 pm

    I feel like I hit all six stages at once. 🙂 Thank you for writing this wonderful post Linda.

    • Linda Coussement

      May 10, 2015 at 7:29 am

      Wow, that must feel like an emotional tsunami for you! The best of luck with it and thanks for the compliment!

  15. Kim

    May 8, 2015 at 12:01 pm

    I think this scenario is probably way more common than we even think it is. It’s a scary thing and while it would be great if we woke up one day with the aha moment and the “Yes, this is the day,” feeling, in the end however we get there is good. Thank you. This resonated with me.

    • Linda Coussement

      May 8, 2015 at 6:11 pm

      You’re welcome! I would indeed love to wake up to that feeling but unfortunately, we have to create that feeling for ourselves and not just sit around and wait for it to happen!

  16. Helen McCarthy

    May 8, 2015 at 11:44 am

    Thanks Linda for expressing what many of us who change tack feel. Great article.

    • Linda Coussement

      May 8, 2015 at 11:54 am

      Thanks for the compliment Helen! Change is scary and great at the same time, but in the end it’s the only way to move forward!

  17. Ethan

    May 8, 2015 at 10:01 am

    Hey Lawrence, you nailed it.

    All these stages seem to have an underlying fear. (Or is it the image?) It may be wrong, but this fear is what pushes entrepreneur hopefuls to actually act.

    I must admit reading this got me some chills.

    Very inspiring. Thank you!

    • Linda Coussement

      May 8, 2015 at 11:58 am

      I’m sorry to give you chills but I’m taking it as a compliment 🙂
      Yes, fear is the entrepreneurs’ biggest hurdle, no matter what stage he/she is at! But it’s also the hurdle they’re willing to cross time and again because they know that they will profit from it, personally AND business wise.

  18. Linda Coussement

    May 8, 2015 at 9:58 am

    Thanks Lawrence! And yes, the unknown is indeed where most of our fears come from, which is funny because technically there’s not really anything to be scared of. I’m happy you made it to the other side and thank you for sharing!

  19. Chandraka

    May 8, 2015 at 4:25 am

    Absolutely amazing article. I want the writer to know that he has honestly helped someone make a huge decision. My story is very very similar to yours. Right after highschool I went straight to university and studied finance and went straight to work at a bank.

    It was all I knew and studied and wanted to go far in the bank. But I hated going to work everyday, hated it. I never had that excitement to get up in the morning. Like when your younger you get a new video game, you are so excited to start your day. I only had the feeling of dread going to work. But on the outside I was happy and I worked hard and was quite successful. Going in to my fifth year, I was feeling I needed to make big changes.

    I’m from another country and had an opportunity to start a business with my sister and her boyfriend in this foreign country. I was able to start the business while still working as he lived in the foreign country and we would ship various items for export where we are. This business has a chance for great success but to get it there, I need to be there and be more hands on.

    I was contemplating leaving my job at end of the year but during the middle of the year, a general manager at my bank who coincidentally was from the same foreign country offered me a serious promotion and an opportunity to learn from the best at their craft. This threw a serious curveball since I couldn’t leave and get this business off the ground if I took on this promotion.

    I’ve been thinking for a week what to do. Do I want this promotion and live a safe life or chase my wildest dreams and operate a successful business in a beautiful country and be able to travel more. It’s scary decision but your article has helped me to turn down the position. I already was most likely going to say no but this has helped. This incident has actually expedited the process and I will be leaving in a few months instead of at the end of the year

    • Linda Coussement

      May 8, 2015 at 12:02 pm

      Wow Chandraka, that really made my day!

      I’m so happy for you that you were able to make this decision and follow your heart and I’m happy for me that I was able to share this personal story (which was scary in itself) so that you could be inspired.

      If you ever get another bout of the shivers come find me on http://www.fromstartuptogrowup.com for a chat!

      All the best on your amazing adventure!

  20. Lawrence Berry

    May 8, 2015 at 2:30 am

    This is a great article, because it shares with others the tough road to taking a leap of faith into the unknown. I experienced the same things you have mentioned here, and I think the biggest thing that hold people back from entrepreneurship or chasing what they really want in life is the fear of the unknown. When traveling down a path less traveled its very scary but it takes a person to reach a breakthrough to change.

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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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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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