Starting your own company is undoubtedly one of the most exciting things you can do, but it is also one of the most challenging. From destructive personal habits to a lack of knowledge about how to properly run a business, there are many roadblocks that can keep you from achieving the success you so greatly desire.
The problem is, many people don’t have the time to enroll in additional business classes at school to learn these new skills. This is especially true of those who have already launched their startup and are now discovering that their skill set is somewhat lacking.
So how do you keep your lack of knowledge from bringing about a premature end to your entrepreneurial dreams? To achieve lasting success, you’ll have to develop the ability to learn these important skills “on the fly” as you simultaneously manage your company.
Here are 7 ways you can make this happen:
1. Leverage Failure
Failure is an unavoidable aspect of the business world. Even when you seem to have a great product and great team, failure is always a possibility. In fact, industries with the highest startup success rates still see 42 percent of new companies fail within their first four years of operation.
Though failure is hard, it is essential that you take a step back and assess why you failed. This allows you to gain key insights that will help you perform better in the future. As serial entrepreneur and investor Steve Tan recalls, “I’ve been involved in e-commerce since 2005. During that time, I’ve had four startups that went under. It was very hard — depressing, even, but I didn’t give up. By evaluating the reasons why my past efforts had failed, I was able to use these lessons to launch a company with my brother that now has an eight-figure annual revenue.”
2. Become a Self-Starter
Successful learners need to be self-motivated. As Jack Canfield explains, “World-class achievers don’t wait until external influences – such as a teacher, manager or boss, or new developments within an industry – force them to gain new skills or knowledge. They are self-motivated learners who are constantly looking for new ways to improve their performance and deepen their understanding of the world around them.”
To learn on the fly as an entrepreneur, you need to develop a desire to make active learning a key part of everything you do. This requires humility and self-awareness. An inner drive for improvement will help you be a more successful learner than if you were forced into change by external forces.
“Talent you have naturally. Skill is only developed by hours and hours and hours of beating on your craft.” – Will Smith
3. Set Goals
Even if you’re self-motivated, it can be hard to maintain focus on learning activities when you have so many other entrepreneurial duties on your plate. Smart goal-setting is essential for keeping on track. If you want to learn more about social media marketing, creating a specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound goal will be far more effective than having a vague desire to learn.
Goal-setting gives you the tools to track your progress toward learning milestones. As you use smart goals to remain focused and committed to on the fly learning, you’ll be better positioned to achieve actual results.
4. Find the ‘Why’
If you don’t feel as motivated to learn, it can help to focus on the why. Why do you need to understand Facebook and other social media platforms? Why should you learn about supply chain management?
As you more closely examine how such issues impact your company’s bottom line, you can find the motivation you need to make learning a priority. When this happens, you’ll be more likely to constantly search for new learning opportunities, making it far easier to learn in a hectic environment.
5. Set Aside Time Every Day
When you have a busy schedule, it can be easy for certain activities to fall by the wayside. More often than not, if you don’t carve out some “learning time” in your calendar, there’s a good chance you’ll end the day without taking any time to learn at all.
While it’s true that many of the best entrepreneurial learning opportunities are entirely unstructured, setting aside a period of structured “study time” demonstrates a level of commitment that will help you keep on track with your learning goals. Even using as little as 15 minutes to read a how-to article or work on a learning project will pay big dividends over time.
6. Look for Structured Opportunities
You don’t have to sign up for a class at your local community college to gain access to expert knowledge. It’s easier than ever to find knowledgable, authoritative resources that will help you develop the skills necessary to keep your business on track. From articles published by other entrepreneurs to online courses, there are countless resources you can use — and many of them are completely free.
Professional conferences can be especially valuable. Industry-specific conferences often focus on the trends and skills that will have a direct impact on your startup’s success. Better yet, conferences also create valuable networking opportunities that can help you foster new growth opportunities.
“Learning never exhausts the mind.” – Leonardo da Vinci
7. Get Hands-On
To become a successful learner, you need to put aside any fears about “not knowing enough” and start practicing. Studies have found that students who learn by doing perform better than their peers. The same is true in the business world.
At the end of the day, nothing beats hands-on learning. If you’re trying to learn a new language so you can better communicate with your customers, you’ll learn much quicker as you practice speaking, rather than simply reading from a textbook. Personal engagement in the activity you are trying to master is the best bet for mastery.
As Jim Rohn famously said, “Formal education will make you a living; self-education will make you a fortune.” To achieve lasting success, you have to become a learner. This requires that you examine what factors could keep you from reaching your ultimate goals and then take action to gain the skills and knowledge that will allow you to address these issues. As you strive to become a continual learner, you’ll cultivate the tools you need to become successful.
What new skill are you currently working on? Share with me in the comment section below!
6 Creative Ways to Hype Up a New Product on Social Media
It’s the week before the big product launch, and you’ve been asked to help with a big marketing splash. The problem is despite brainstorming for a few weeks and pushing out a few tweets to build the pre-launch buzz, you’re out of ideas. But merely wondering how to help the new product capture the minds of prospects and customers doesn’t really help.
Here are 6 creative things you should consider to generate excitement for your product in the target market:
1. Create a goal
Don’t limit your awareness program to merely “make people aware” of the product. Go beyond the ideal definition and expand it. There has to be a goal that assists you to measure the success of your program.
This goal can be the number of followers you drive to your webpage, or probably the ones who sign up for more updates. Find out what other options work best for you and let them guide you through the awareness campaign. The key is to make it measurable and ensure if your website is any good; it is fully geared to be not much more than a giant lead magnet.
2. Sell smart, not hard
No matter how much effort you put in, if you don’t do it smart, they’ll lead you to failure. Just because you are leveraging social media, doesn’t imply you can aim in the dark and wait for the arrow to hit the target miraculously. Make sure you very well know the problems that you are trying to solve.
Analyze the people affected by those issues and what attracts them. Leverage social media, but target your buyer personas. New products are often a great time to reconnect with existing clients and prospects. A fantastic way to do this is by getting your sales team to share the content and measure the engagements and click-through rate. Once you have the comparative view handy, you can make the most of social platforms.
“Working hard is very important. You are not going to get anywhere without working extremely hard.” – George Lucas
3. Strike a chord
Personalization is the key to hit the sweet spot in the hearts of buyers. Have the sales team personalize the message. Give your employees the chance to explain the value to their networks.
Write high-level social copy for the various vertical markets you serve and then set the team lose in honing the conversation online. Done effectively, the click-through rate can go through the roof!
4. Build engaging content
Consider buyer personas while drafting the social copy of your content. And take note, we are referring to buyer personas, not a persona. It includes more than one streak of your ideal buyers.
Invest time in understanding the critical aspect of each of them. Make sure you know what your product has to offer to each of them and translate that understanding to explain this value proposition. The better you do at segmenting the message, the more clicks and engagements your content will produce.
5. Don’t reveal too much
Sometimes, marketers get carried away and unveil too much of the information in the pre-launch phase itself. What is left for the final big reveal? Apparently nothing but the product itself. And mind you, dear friend, curiosity killed the cat because she could not withhold it. Why not leverage this mentality for your product marketing as well?
Build anticipation and create mystery around the product. Drop hints, create hype but make sure you have some excitement reserved for the actual launch. Don’t disclose every significant twist.
“Content builds relationships. Relationships are built on trust. Trust drives revenue.” – Andrew Davis
6. Narrate a story
Compelling narratives are a powerful way to engage people with your product even before it hits the shelves. Let the existing buyers talk about their experience with your current products. Not only will it talk about your offerings, but it’ll also highlight the positive relationship with existing clients. That’s something that can pay dividends when building a bond with the new ones. Additionally, you receive attention from followers of the customers you are showcasing.
Is your product launch is just a few days ahead, and you need to create product hype on social media? Well, it is quite a task to make the pre-launch ripples. But these six creative strategies can help you get the job done effectively. Use these ideas to showcase the hard work your product team has done and ensure a successful product launch.
Which one of the above 6 ways to market a product do you believe is most important and why? Share your thoughts below!
5 Skills I Learned in the Military That Helped Me Become a Successful Entrepreneur
The moves I’ve made in my career from the military, to the mining industry, to running a multinational business in Latin America, aren’t linear. It’s not every day an ex-Australian military officer finds their niche in Latin American business.
Graduating from Australia’s Royal Military College and Defense Force Academy, I served as a commissioned officer in the Australian Army for nearly 11 years, completing operational tours to Central Asia and the Middle East.
The transition from various Army engineering and infantry roles through to managing a team of legal and financial executives was neither quick nor painless. But, as I entered the company formation process, I found my military service played a significant role in shaping my entrepreneurial fitness. The skills I developed in the Australian Defense Force supported me through several commercial iterations more than once.
Here are some of the key connections I drew between core military values and those I apply to the boardroom environment:
1. Be calculated and decisive
Unsurprisingly, a crucial requisite of military functionality is working quickly and effectively under pressure. This rings especially true for the strategic planners of operations: the commissioned and non-commissioned officers.
My military role made tough demands on me to decide on the best course of action for myself and my team. When deployed overseas, making the wrong decision or not making a decision fast enough could mean failing our mission, and putting people in danger.
In business, it’s vital to understand, analyze and communicate the risks involved in the options laid out before you at various stages. Making offers to clients, moving into a new market, investing large amounts of money into projects. And decisions need to be made based on this analysis before these opportunities pass by.
I can confidently draw on my experiences in service to act fast and capitalize on opportunities as they become available, and make tough decisions in high-pressure situations.
“You cannot make progress without making decisions.” – Jim Rohn
2. Resilience is key
Resilience is fundamental to success in any military career. In training and on operations, one soldier’s spiralling morale could put an entire section in danger. Military personnel are vetted for their adaptability and mental strength from day one, using tried-and-true techniques to push people to their limits.
Having a high level of resilience allows you to cope when things don’t go to plan in business. Investments might not show returns as quickly as hoped, a competitor snatches up an important client, or a difficult situation arises between staff that needs careful management.
I can confidently draw on military-learned techniques to support my own and others’ resilience in the office. Being able to maintain a high level of morale among teams fosters productivity and a willingness to ‘soldier on’ in challenging situations.
3. Leadership and cooperation
People in leadership positions are those that others turn to for advice and support. As a leader, you have to be prepared to make tough decisions that others can’t or won’t. A high-performing team has a courageous, empowering, and communicative leader at its helm.
This is as true in the military as it is in business. Building the right team and driving them to success is both challenging and rewarding – whether the outcome is securing a key logistical foothold to allow aid and other supplies to travel into a war-torn area, or seeing a newly-opened office secure its first major client.
Not every soldier has an easy time appreciating the ubiquity of drills in their military workplace, nor their role in underpinning the success of a smooth operation. But a lack of discipline is tantamount to putting oneself and others at risk. Ignoring lawful orders, or not applying proper first-aid to a fellow soldier, are a couple of examples of this.
To me, commercial discipline means being professional always, even in stressful or frustrating situations. Maintain integrity in everything you do, and don’t cut corners. Carrying out proper legal and financial procedures means staying compliant under local law, and avoiding complications with authorities.
Staying committed to an objective and refusing to drop standards enables you to build a credible reputation for your business that clients hold in high regard.
“We don’t have to be smarter than the rest, we have to be more disciplined than the rest.” – Warren Buffett
5. Cultural awareness
Finally, but no less importantly, showing respect for cultural customs in business is essential for cultivating strong professional relationships. Being aware of your cultural background, and sensitive to those of others, will help build social connections, and make you more relatable to others.
Foreign militaries operating in troubled parts of the world understand that building trust with local individuals and communities is imperative. Without that trust, moving around becomes difficult and more dangerous. To gain trust, soldiers must show respect for people’s culture and way of life.
The same is true in business. A small hiccup such as not shaking hands, or giving an air-kiss to a new acquaintance here in Latin America could start an entire working relationship off on the wrong foot. Cultural sensitivity shows a willingness to embrace people and their society. Never underestimate the significance people place on this element when evaluating your suitability as a professional partner.
It’s no secret that commercial success requires passion, hard work, and dedication. Don’t be afraid to call upon your own and others’ previous experiences to find solutions to problems or forge ahead with complex projects. For military personnel considering testing out their business acumen, be confident that your years of service to your country have also set you up for success in the world of business.
3 Scientifically Proven Things Entrepreneurs Should Be Doing to Increase Overall Performance
Many of us know that becoming an entrepreneur isn’t easy. Most are working very long hours, seven days a week, and are making tremendous sacrifices to ensure their businesses are increasing in all areas. They are actually building empires right?
While this type of mindset is okay for a season, many get stuck in the vicious cycle of working non-stop and not taking care of themselves. We all know working hard definitely has its rewards and benefits, but overworking can lead to many unnecessary and unhealthy developments.
Below are 3 things entrepreneurs should be taking advantage of, in order to develop a proper work-life balance and still stay ahead of the eight ball:
1. Get enough sleep
Many of us have been programmed to think that you have to work hard and long in order to be successful in life. While working hard is very important to becoming successful, recent studies have shown that getting the proper amount of sleep is even more important. Studies have shown that sleep deprivation is one of the main causes of stress and burnout in the lives of many people.
Arianna Huffington is a huge advocate for getting a minimum of eight hours of sleep per day, in order to improve our decision-making, well-being, creativity, and productivity. Those bragging about only getting four to five hours of sleep are actually admitting that they are not functioning or performing at their maximum potential.
Researchers have also shown that when you are getting seven to eight hours of sleep, your brain signals your body to release hormones and compounds that assist in brain memory, maintaining your immune system, and decreasing risks in health conditions. Therefore, getting enough quality sleep is key for a healthy lifestyle.
2. Take vacations
Studies show that there are multiple health benefits of vacationing. A few of them consist of less stress, decreased depression, improved productivity, and improved mental health. Who wouldn’t want to experience that right? The ones who break away from the day-to-day functions of working, to go on vacation usually come back on fire and ready to keep crushing their goals.
Vacationing allows you to really put things into perspective, not only for yourself, but for your business as well. Taking vacations gives you the opportunity to unplug and spend that much needed quality time with yourself and your loved ones.
It also gives you time to relax, reflect, and recharge. In doing so, research shows that you come back refreshed and ready to function at peak performance. You also get to have fun, visit really cool places and check off destinations on your bucket list.
3. Take breaks
No matter how much you love your work, you can’t continue to be a driving force while running on empty. CEO Chris Cavallini, of the multi million dollar company Nutrition Solutions, believes in this principal one hundred percent and stands firm on the idea that taking a 60 second break every hour will reboot, recharge, and refocus your mind, body and spirit.
It makes the team more efficient and productive, says Chris. Many times a quick mental or physical shift is all you need, to come back to work with more creativity and more energy for your next breakthrough.
“Almost everything will work again if you unplug it for a few minutes…including you.” – Anne Lamott
Recent studies have shown that those who experience constant stimulation of the same thing, is registered by our brains as unimportant, to the point that our brain erases it from our awareness.
They also show that taking a two-minute break can increase productivity by as much as 11.15%. Since entrepreneurs are constantly on the go, several short breaks through out the day should definitely be included due to all of the amazing benefits they provide.
Some of the things you could do on your breaks that will increase performance and productivity include, standing and stretching, resting your eyes, quick exercises like jumping jacks, push ups, sit ups, or pull ups and even checking your social media.
The next time you feel like you don’t have time to take a break, think about all the benefits you’ll miss out on by not taking one.
12 Essential Skills Required to Succeed as an Entrepreneur
There are lots of unwritten rules about the right set of skills needed to succeed as an entrepreneur. No doubt, entrepreneurs are filled with a sense of uncertainty on the right set of skills they need to acquire. So, how do successful entrepreneurs know the right skills to integrate into their operations? This is the million dollar question, and it’s time to answer it!
As an aspiring or veteran entrepreneur, here are some of the essential skills you need to succeed as an entrepreneur:
1. Money Management
Let’s face it, you can’t achieve your entrepreneurial goals if you don’t know how to manage your finances. You need to put structures in place to monitor where your income and expenses come from.
Ask yourself if you are spending more than you earn, and also calculate your savings ratio. You need to keep yourself informed of the latest financial investment rules and how to navigate your business through difficult situations.
Yes, ambition is one of the hardest skills for entrepreneurs. The aim is the skill you need to keep going when situations become dire. It’s the ability to know your destination and not to lose focus.
Successful entrepreneurs have an aggressive nature, and this is what drives them to work hard. More so, their dynamic environment keeps them cautious and always on the alert for windfalls.
3. Willingness to Learn
Learning is a continuous process. Most entrepreneurs make the mistake of restricting their education to their educational institution. Instead, knowledge is a life-long process, and it’s an essential skill for successful entrepreneurs. Therefore, you must be updated with recent events in technology, your environment, and your industry. Remember, even old dogs can learn new tricks!
You need creative skills to succeed as an entrepreneur. Trying out the same thing over and over will still generate the same result. Therefore, you need to harness your creativity to discover new methods of doing things. Mind you, being creative doesn’t mean you have to do something drastic. Sometimes, it requires simple actions such as talking to people or taking up new skills.
“Creative thinking inspires ideas. Ideas inspire change.” – Barbara Januszkiewicz
Successful entrepreneurs have learned how to harness their productivity skills by discovered what is productive for them, and adhering to it. More so, successful entrepreneurs increase their productivity by working at energy peak levels. Lastly, utilize the productivity tool that works for you and improves on it throughout your entrepreneurial journey.
6. Social Skills
Some entrepreneurs downplay the importance of social skills. This group of people fail to realize that you improve your chances of success by walking with the right people. Search for entrepreneurs with similar goals and observe how they overcame challenges. Furthermore, study their success strategies; this will help you to perfect your business plans.
7. Management Skills
It’s not enough to learn the skills as mentioned above without improving your management skills. As an entrepreneur, you will need to manage your workers effectively to get the right result. This is the time to learn how to encourage, develop, and support your employees. Learning a management skill will help you to recognize and allocate tasks in tandem with their strengths and weakness.
8. Social Media Proficiency
Here’s one skill that can shape the landscape of your business. Yes, social media is an integral part of your success as an entrepreneur. In the initial phase of your business, you will need to assume the role of a social media manager, and this involves knowing how to navigate and use social media platforms.
Every successful entrepreneur has experienced failures and crippling defeats. They were able to survive these dire situations when many others lost their businesses. Successful entrepreneurs persevere through these hard moments by choosing to learn and make calculated decisions from experience.
“It’s perseverance that’s the key. It’s persevering for long enough to achieve your potential.” – Lynn Davies
10. Time Management
Time management is considered a valuable skill by a successful entrepreneur. With time management, you need to have a detailed plan or schedule for your daily tasks. More so, this skill helps you to prioritize tasks and how to tackle the important ones.
Time management helps you to battle procrastination when making crucial and everyday business decisions. Think of time management as one of the hard skills for entrepreneurs. Remember, you will never achieve your goals without gaining mastery over your time.
It doesn’t matter if you run a small business or a large corporation. It is imperative for you to know how to communicate effectively with your clients, mentors, stakeholders, and even your employees.
It’s one skill that’s crucial to your success as an entrepreneur. Why? You won’t succeed if you can’t communicate the values of your brand. So, you need to master all forms of communication. What’s more? You need to show your employees the importance of effective communication.
12. Business Strategy
Having a business strategy is considered an essential skill for successful entrepreneurs. Although most entrepreneurs reached the pinnacle of their careers through sheer will and strength, it’s necessary to have a business strategy. Utilize the skills mentioned above to create a business structure that’ll stand the test of time.
We’ve successfully created a list of skills to succeed as an entrepreneur. No doubt, it’s been an eventful journey. Now, all you need is to integrate these skills into your mode of operations. Practice these skills until it becomes the core of your business operations.
Which one of the above 12 skills do you feel is most important for an entrepreneur? Share your thoughts below!
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