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How to Know When to Move on From a Business Idea

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

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

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

1. You’ve Completely Lost Your Passion for It

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

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

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

2. The Profit Margin is Too Low

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

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

3. You Can’t Validate It

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

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

4. It’s Confusing

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

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

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

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

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

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

Entrepreneurs

The Secret to Becoming the Most Desirable Person to Do Business With

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Marketplace distinction is a very important factor in business today. You might have discovered that several other businesses offer the same or similar solutions that you do. This creates tough competition to get customers.

Being first to the market often gives an initial edge but that doesn’t last as innovation and marketing strategy changes the expectation and taste of customers. Blockbuster Video was once an industry leader but now it is eclipsed and out of business because of Netflix. There was a time Blackberry phones were at the top of the smartphone world as well. Now they have been outclassed in that market.

You must have noticed also that the companies with the best products and services are not always the ones with the best business. In fact, it is a common notion that smaller companies often offer better services than their larger competitors. This perhaps is because of the fact that they have smaller clients and can offer more tailored solutions and customer service. However, the majority still keep rushing to the largest companies in the industry. The common assumption is that the product or service is better, but in several cases, it’s not.

Becoming the company with the best business in the industry depends on how desirable you are to do business with as an entrepreneur. And if the business is a large corporation, the business depends on how desirable the managers and company representatives are as well.

We live in a day and age where clients and customers are emotionally driven towards making a purchase and then create a logical reason to back up their emotions. Nobody buys if the logic says yes but the emotions say no. This is why several companies today are trying to associate their brand with known social vices. You do remember the Nike ad with Colin Kaepernick and the Gillette ad that sparked a lot of discussion on social media. You don’t have to go that far if you don’t want to as there is another way.

“Know what your customers want most and what your company does best. Focus on where those two meet.” – Kevin Stirtz

There is a local community I once had to live with. The community was famous for its spiced roasted meat. It was sold on the street by the locals. When people come around to buy from them and speak English, they sell at their usual prices. But if you approached them and spoke their native language, they will be beaming with smiles and you can walk away with as much as a 50% discount. Why? The most beautiful thing to the ears of any person is their own language, especially when they least expect it.

This can be flipped into the business world too. Instead of triggering an emotional downpour on social media, you can target your audience and make them yours. It is the way to become the most desirable person to do business with. Speak the language of your customers.

Below, are the 2 steps to becoming the most desirable person to do business with whether you have a big company or are a one person operation:

1. Identify where your customers are

It’s difficult to know who your customers are without knowing where they are. A smart way to learn where the customers are is to conduct a survey of the customers you have already and find out how they learned about your company. The survey will seek to understand their reason for doing business with you and it might not be what you think.

The survey should also seek to understand what all your current customers have in common. It might be another product or service offered by another company complementary to yours. It might be a certain location. It might be a specific industry. The purpose of this is to pinpoint a waterfall of potential clients.

2. Identify what your customers want to hear

You have probably heard of trigger words. Yes, they do exist but they vary depending on the type of clients or customers you serve. You learn the words by listening to them. The purpose is not to manipulate the customers but to create an emotional connection with them when you talk about the solution you offer them. There are clients who walk away from the solution they need just because they did not connect with the one offering the solution. So make sure you are listening to them and figuring out a way to create an emotional connection.

The decision of the client to do business with you is not hinged on how awesome your product or services are, rather it is based on how well you understand their problem. They are going to know how well you understand their problem with how fluent you speak their language. And that is the secret to being the most desirable person to do business with.

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3 Ways You Can Get Back to Basics While Accelerating Your Business Growth

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Young kids are a living, breathing, walking and talking reminder of how important the basics are. They usually underestimate simple everyday tasks and create new chaos in the process. This creates a real time reminder for themselves, and everyone around them, of how important getting back to the basics are. If you have ever watched a baby try to walk or eat, something you do every day, this is very clear.

A growing business is much like a growing child. Rapid growth during the first few years, independence and confidence as the idea grows into a profitable business, and eventually adolescent rebellion once the taste of success comes in. As a business grows, change becomes inevitable, and can very often be unmanageable and overwhelming.

A business can also experience growing pains. From adding staff, to something as simple as time management, the growth of a business can sometimes be more stressful than the death of a business. Success hinges on adaptability, but it is equally important to take time to recognize what got you started when the business was just an idea.

Here are some of the stages your business may be going through, and the way to adapt and grow effectively and efficiently:

1. The terrible twos

As your company grows, the expectations of it and you will change. You are no longer the new kid on the block with limitless potential. Sticking to your core values and adapting to change becomes a full-time balancing act. Very often this early onset of success allows you to hire more people and expand your reach. Especially in companies experiencing hockey stick growth, you may have forgot to create a corporate culture when it was just a few of you in a garage.

Even if you are in an early stage of your company it is important to document the work you are doing and create Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) and expectations of every task you are completing alone. Once you hire someone, it will be much easier to train them if you can hand them a document telling them this is how you do it.

“Without continual growth and progress, such words as improvement and success have no meaning.” – Benjamin Franklin

2. The tween years

People can get so busy working in their business that they forget to work on it. Be sure to notice the borders of your company and plan how to broaden them. As a company now with profits, employees and resources, you’re keeping busier than ever, but not sure what is next. Much like a child still needs their parents for some of the basics like food and shelter, during this stage of business, coaches and mentors are so important. Be sure to surround yourself with people who are where you want to be and learn from them. This is the make or break point for many businesses so make sure you are working and surrounding yourself with the right people.

3. Entrepreneur adolescents

Many teenagers feel like an adult, because physically and mentally they feel like they are there, but socially and economically they are not even close in most cases. Success can be blinding and create this same false positive for a growing company. Success can create a comfortable bubble that can distract from further growth. The comfort can create slip-ups and mistakes. Be mindful, and don’t let progress slow you down.

During this stage of business, coaches and mentors are still a key factor to success. They may not be the same ones you had in earlier stages, but the great thing about today’s market place is you can find someone out there to get the advice and guidance you may need. In this phase it very well can be a peer or someone on the same level. 

So, what can you do about this day to day? Read below:

1. Back to the Future

Go back to old emails, files, photos, and reminisce. Every venture has a beginning. The photos and emails you have recorded and collected can be just as much an inspiration as your current goals and challenges. Make sure you have the TimeHop app on your phone, this will help jog your memory.

2. Get feedback

Talk to clients and get feedback. We get many chances to talk to new clients, but make sure you go back and question old clients to understand their perspective on your work and business. Ask them about the changes they have noticed and whether the same kind of qualities are still there when they started with you.

“No company can afford not to move forward. It may be at the top of the heap today but at the bottom of the heap tomorrow, if it doesn’t.” – James Cash Penney

3. The Social Network

Networking is key as well, both on and offline. Listen to new people and new customers. You will see plenty of new faces along your journey up, make sure you are receptive and accepting of the new kinds of ideas these people bring along with them. Rigidity can kill a business. Make sure you are networking with the right people online via social media. During all stages of growth, it is so important to be networking in person locally, and make sure you get on a plane and go to an event!

Remember, a business is run by people, and as a CEO and Entrepreneur, you are a person. Make sure you keep growing your business, because if you’re not growing your dying.

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Entrepreneurs

3 Strategies for Entrepreneurs to Stand Out Before, During and After Networking

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Oftentimes, entrepreneurs spend a good amount of time networking to create leads and fill knowledge gaps. Networking events and conventions offer a high level of excitement and engagement, but how do you keep the momentum going and stay in front of potential leads without spamming? How do you actually have people follow up with you directly?

Below, I have listed 3 strategies to help you stand out before, during and after networking:

1. Be consistent with your brand on social media, or don’t be on it.

Most people have an online presence, and you’d be hard pressed to find someone without a social media account. Especially those with a product or service to sell. Even if the pictures posted to your social media account are only pictures of you and your dog, those images communicate a brand, and that’s what followers come to expect when they interact with your page.

If you connect with someone at an event, and they visit your social media profile, is your most recent post reflective of who you are? Is it a pillar in your brand? Another aspect to consider is that everyone has their go-to platform, therefore, it is important to be active on multiple social media platforms. That being said, if you are not active on a particular platform, your business and networking prospects can be harmed.

You may want to consider doing away with the social media platform you’re not active on. If you live on Instagram, don’t be on another social media platform that you are not going to put effort into, or consider outsourcing it. The key here is post networking, you want people to see you regularly, and consistently with the same message.

2. Publishing your own book is the modern-day business card.

With today’s technology, many entrepreneurs debate on the need for a business card, and in a networking event, you can apply a variety of techniques both with and without one. That being said, when someone asks the proverbial networking question “What is it that you do?”, handing them an autographed book that tells your story and about your area of expertise is hard to forget.

It gives credibility in your field and positions you as an authority. It’s easier than ever to self-publish your knowledge, and being a published author opens doors. It allows others to know and learn more about you, not unlike the podcast and your online presence, but it also helps take your personal brand and business to the next level. With a book, you also become an expert in your industry, and it paves the way if you have the desire to speak at conferences and/or events adding another level to your networking.

3. Having a course or mastermind will allow you to stand out from the crowd.

With the first two mentioned above in place, people want to connect with you before, after and during a networking event. So how do we keep teaching and networking with them? The book you authored can be turned into an online course. Each chapter offers the chance to go deeper into the material, and therefore go deeper into the brand and business.

It serves as a companion piece for those who read your book, and with the completion of the course or mastermind group, they have the necessary tools to accomplish the goals outlined in your book. Your mastermind can be delivered in several ways. You can do a weekly call with a group and almost run it like a book club.

The other option is through a Facebook group where you do a weekly live explaining the topics in each chapter, and answer questions in the comments. The final option for the busy entrepreneur is to create a prerecorded webinar or online course that can be accessed 24/7 by current and potential clients.

Networking is the key to success for any entrepreneur, but the money is in the follow up. These three simple things give you credibility, allow you to connect with more leads in one session and create a consistent and clear personal branding message for you online. Remember, your network is your net worth.

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5 Ways to Find the Time for Self-Growth While Running a Business

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Taking time out for self-growth is by far one of the best things a business owner can do to secure a winning future. You’ll be surprised to know how investing in personal growth can contribute to business success. Self-growth boosts creativity, confidence, and motivation. It persuades us to create systems in our personal and professional lives that lead us to success.

Business owners and entrepreneurs have to wear multiple hats and may not always be able to find time to invest in their personal growth. However, self-growth cannot be achieved at random. It’s a continuous process that requires dedicated efforts and time.

Below are 5 tips that’ll help you focus on self-growth, transform you into a better business professional, and steer you towards success:

1. Be a Ruthless Prioritizer

The power of ruthless prioritization cannot be trivialized. Life as a business owner can get so busy that personal priorities and self-growth goals tend to take a back seat.

Business-related tasks and responsibilities can never disappear, but we can definitely plan ahead and prioritize tasks to get organized and make time for ourselves. I like to use Eisenhower’s Urgent/Important Principle to classify tasks and prioritize like a pro.

Master the art of delegation. Trust your subordinates with smaller tasks and gradually delegate bigger responsibilities to them, thereby maximizing productivity and making time for yourself. I often play to my team’s strengths or train them on managing critical business tasks. This leaves me time to focus on personal growth. Effective delegation not only keeps us sane amidst tight deadlines but also helps us focus on ourselves.

Remember to allocate time to the person who matters most – You! Prioritizing tasks will leave you enough time to invest in your creativity, self-confidence, knowledge, health, and relationships.

2. Learn to Say No. Period.

There’s a lot we can learn from Warren Buffet. The American business magnate puts it across in simple words – “Really Successful People Say No To Almost Everything.” The primary reason why modern business owners and entrepreneurs have less self-time is because of their inability to say no when required.

Resist the urge of being wired to the perpetual yes mode. Say no to unproductive tasks and requests that continuously consume your time and energy. This will help you find the much-needed me-time to define life’s priorities and reflect on your personal growth.

Make it a policy not to take business calls on weekends. Let your stakeholders know and respect the fact that weekends are personal time. Similarly, you can design a policy to eliminate late nights at work by forbidding meetings after 6 pm.

Being consistent with this policy will help you overcome the guilt and anxiety that come along with saying no. You not only create a positive work culture, but also make time for self-development.

Further, getting rid of unproductive tasks will free up your cognitive space, allowing you to pursue self-improvement strategies like enrolling for an online course or attending a workshop for small business owners.

“The art of leadership is saying no, not saying yes. It is very easy to say yes.” – Tony Blair

3. Befriend Technology

Technology has been enabling entrepreneurs and business owners to adapt quickly to the changing business needs, allowing them to make better use of time and resources. For instance, the cloud offers immense flexibility allowing business owners to access data from any location and using different devices. Project management and collaboration tools, such as Trello, Harvest, and GSuite can help you focus on multiple tasks without wasting too much time.

Similarly, email marketing automation tools enable business owners to organize their customers’ email addresses and send targeted emails, deal notifications, and product information in a scheduled manner without having to get into the nitty-gritty.

Besides, modern technology is redefining learning experience for entrepreneurs and business owners. Several online learning platforms are offering immersive educational experience through web and mobile apps. These platforms provide business professionals and busy entrepreneurs learning beyond the classroom by helping them upgrade their skills from any part of the world.

Going tech savvy not only makes life easy but also helps you save time. Using high-tech tools can help you stay on top of your tasks and fuel personal growth.

4. Eliminate Distractions

Many business owners unknowingly waste a huge chunk of their day accomplishing tasks that can be easily delegated or avoided. A study by Inc. reveals that business owners waste a staggering 21.8 hours a week. That’s almost one day lost! Imagine what you could achieve in that time.

Eliminating the common time wasters can significantly increase the amount of time available for self-growth.

Here are a few time-wasters you should avoid to make time for yourself.

Spending Excessive Time Online

A Vertical Response survey reveals that 43 percent of business owners spend 6+ hours per week on social media, surfing websites, emailing, and going through apps. The fear of missing out (FOMO) often compels us to keep checking connected devices, thereby wasting too much time online.

To make time for yourself it’s critical to challenge the dominance of social media in our lives. Block the distraction of the online world using various apps. These apps allow you to block your social accounts and the internet, allowing you to focus on self-development.

Similarly, emails are time-sucking black holes that can cause you to lose focus. Set a specific time of the day to check and respond to emails. Better still, avoid checking emails until you have finished important tasks.

Random Networking

Building relationships is critical for every business owner, however, there’s a fine line that separates networking and wasting time in meaningless socializing. It is easy to lose time in such random networking that does nothing for your personal growth. Therefore, it’s best to avoid such chatty situations. For instance, if you have set time aside to upskill yourself by taking an online course, make sure you wear headphones to focus and keep random schmoozers at bay. Alternatively, don’t shy away from asking the person to get back to you at lunch break or after you have finished the task at hand.

Futile Business Meetings

A business owner is required to keep a bird’s eye view on various business operations. Although meetings help us do just that, it’s important to not waste time on unstructured and pointless meetings. Did you know, American businesses alone waste USD 37 billion per year in unnecessary meetings? Avoid drowning yourself in pointless meetings. If you must attend one, make sure it has a clear agenda, allowing you to reclaim your time for self-improvement activities.

“By prevailing over all obstacles and distractions, one may unfailingly arrive at his chosen goal or destination.” – Christopher Columbus

5. Use Idle Time Effectively

Downtime doesn’t always have to be unproductive. Those idle moments when you are traveling or waiting for a customer can be spent doing meaningful activities like recording goals in a bullet journal, social listening, reading a self-development book or a business article, listening to Ted Talks, or learning a new language. Make a conscious effort to pursue value-adding activities during your idle time, thereby fostering personal growth.

Running a business isn’t easy. Most business owners spend so much time and resources in scaling their venture that they are unable to find any personal development time. Use the effective tips shared in this post to make time for self-growth in your jam-packed schedule.

With everything you need to do during the day, how do you find time to get it all done? Share your tips and advice below!

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