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3 Excuses to Overcome When Starting Your Business

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At one point or another, you’ve probably had a great idea. For some, that great idea comes when they’re driving down the road. For others, it comes when they’re singing in the shower. For Tenacious D (Jack Black’s band), it came in a dream. Unfortunately for him, he couldn’t remember what the great idea was, but wound up writing a song with these words, “This isn’t the greatest song in the world, it’s just a tribute to the greatest song in the world.” The fact of the matter is, we all have great ideas. What separates those who are successful from those who aren’t is one little word – action.

I had the privilege to sit down with Alex Nerney, Co-founder of Create & Go, who used a process of sorts to establish two online websites grossing $100k/mo in profits. Alex talked about three things that hinder a business owner from bringing that idea into a reality. He also interjected three solutions to get rid of the yips and succeed. Hang on, your success is on it’s way.

1. There’s Too Much Competition

As quick as the business idea hits you, something else begins to gnaw at your brain – doubt. Doubt is a common emotion when it comes to creating something new. All of a sudden you realize you’re going to need “this” and “that” and “the other thing” to make it work and you begin to have a realization of the fear of failure. Mr. Nerney explains, while a lot of business ideas that pop up every day on the internet do not work out for the idea-owner, it’s not the fault of the idea.

For example, if you feel like you’re an expert in Facebook advertising and you want to create a consulting company to help other businesses succeed in Facebook ads, right from the beginning you’re going to notice there’s a TON of Facebook ad consultants out there.

Solution: Needle the Niche

Alex says to make your idea unique by niching down. In other words, don’t simply consult on the entire spectrum of Facebook advertising, but perhaps you could make it even more fine-tuned by being the expert at Facebook video ads for dress and apparel companies.

Now you have something to work with. Now you are targeting a specific origin of customer and, if your passion is in apparel (or whatever it may be), show your strengths by displaying an example for them. Niching down is a powerful way to help your business idea stand out from the crowd.

“The biggest competition is myself. I am not looking to follow others or pull them down. I’m planning to test my own boundaries.” – Rain

2. I Don’t Know Enough About This

Alex says, “The most dangerous part of saying ‘I don’t know enough about this’ to yourself is how it strings you along and convincing you to wait for the clandestine moment where you’re finally ready.” Inevitably, action will be required on your part if you are truly serious about accomplishing this particular goal in your business.

Without action, you never truly learn anything from your failed tasks. If you can create a positive mindset about your goals and begin to understand failure isn’t a closed door, but simply another opportunity to craft your creation a better way.

Solution: Don’t Ever Quit

After speaking with Alex on this point, I was reminded by a man who was full of failures.

  • He lost two jobs
  • He ran for the state legislature and lost
  • He started a business and failed
  • His high school sweetheart died.
  • Defeated for Speaker of the House
  • Defeated for Congress
  • Rejected for Land Officer
  • Defeated for U.S. Senate
  • Defeated for the nomination of the Vice Presidency
  • Defeated for U.S. Senate AGAIN

This guy was full of failures. But there was one resolve in his attitude and the aspect in which he saw himself and where he was going. He never quit. Finally, in 1860, Abraham Lincoln was elected to be the President of the United States.

Don’t ever stop educating yourself. Don’t ever stop staying informed of the current issues of your potential clients and customers. Read, evaluate, learn, and jump in with both feet. You will eventually start to see progress in your learning curve. What would have happened to history if ol’ Abe had given up after the first few failures? I’m sure it would be a completely different story. If one door closes, another door opens in the pathway to success so keep your eyes open.

3. I Don’t Know Where To Start

With so many avenues of business appearing out of nowhere in the online business world, it can be confusing at times to know exactly what starting point you should attempt. If you continually watch competitors, how big their audience is, or how engaged they are with their customers, it can be intimidating.

Normally when you focus on others, you compare yourself to them and if you have 200 followers on Facebook and your competitor has 200,000, that’s a big wallop to the confidence level. It’s important to focus on what YOU are wanting out of your business idea.

Solution: Make Three Lists

If you’re coming against the “I Don’t Know Where To Start” wall in your business idea, Mr. Nerney suggests you pick a path and give it a try. Of course this needs to be something you’re passionate about or something you can bring value and quality to your customers or audience.

  • List 1 – Sit down and make a list of the talents you can bring to the table to a preferred customer. Do you write well? Are you great at building relationships? Are you a good communicator? Write those traits down.
  • List 2 – Write down what you want your business to accomplish. Will it be the Facebook video ads we discussed above? Whatever your decision make this the point where your customers simply have to have you over your competitor. This is where you can be different from the pack and it’s a great opportunity to stand out.
  • List 3 – Focus on the type of customer your business will be targeting. This is going to help you tremendously when you get started because your target area will be fine-tuned and won’t be straying off the beaten path getting stray customers who have no interest in what you’re trying to do.

“Fail often so you can succeed sooner.” – Tom Kelley

Alex describes this as a business persona. In essence, you are creating a mythical business which will be your ideal client. If you’re not targeting businesses, this will still work with individuals and is called “social personification”.

For instance if your business is going to do Facebook ads for clients who have apparel businesses, you would make a business (or personal) persona that looks something like this:

Business Name: The Company

Ideal Client: Single women ages 24 – 31 who prefer the night-life and fancy dresses

Best Seller: Long sleeve tops

Average Income: $50,000/mo

Desired Social Platform: Facebook

Their Main Problem: having trouble with Facebook video ads to target their customers

You get the idea. Alex mentions you can go very deep and intimate with this description. Eventually you will be targeting a company (or person) who fits this criteria by writing content that suits their needs, etc.

In Conclusion

Do you have a great idea yet? Are you cultivating a business plan as you read this article? Every successful business owner started exactly where you’re at right now. What will make you any different from them? Frankly, nothing can make you different except you.

Every idea has an excuse it battles and you will be able to realize right from the start whether your idea is worth acting on or not. Using the tips Alex Nerney has given you today, you could be on your way to creating one of the strongest businesses this internet has ever seen. Who knows? It could happen.

How do you overcome your own excuses? Let us know in the comments below!

Jennifer Spencer is a serial entrepreneur who currently serves as Head of Marketing of AppMasters.co, an app marketing agency. She is also the founder of Accelerant PR, a digital branding agency focused on helping startups write and share their stories. She is a passionate storyteller, online marketer and social media specialist.

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Startups

How to Avoid Startup Clichés and Buzzwords When Pitching Investors

Using jargon can make you sound like you’re trying to fill space instead of providing meaningful data

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How to pitch investors better

Entrepreneurs frequently seek startup funding through a variety of channels. Yet, none seem as challenging as successfully pitching to experienced investors. After all, investors are pressed for time and eager for opportunities. These characteristics make it challenging to motivate them, especially if you’re bombarding them with a pitch full of jargon. (more…)

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From Idea to Empire: 5 Power Moves for Your Startup to Thrive in Today’s Market

As an entrepreneur, I’ve learned that understanding market dynamics and choosing the right business model are crucial

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How to thrive in the startup market in 2024

As an entrepreneur, I’ve learned that understanding market dynamics and choosing the right business model are crucial.

A few months into the startup, I was quick to gauge why it is necessary to go beyond the nuances of operational efficiency and the art of sustaining a business amid growing competition.

Collaboration is key.

The HR and the recruiting teams work with departments to foster a culture of collaboration, but what’s indispensable to business performance is the sync between the marketing and sales teams. What we’d consider as entrepreneurs is the need to ensure seamless collaboration to predict and achieve business goals together. In turn, this will help secure long-term recurring revenue for the business.

Besides, entrepreneurs need to focus on revenue as they gear up to take their startup from $0 to $1 million. The journey is filled with critical decisions, from identifying your target customer base to choosing the right funding strategy.

So, what next?

Read on… because here are five practical, results-driven strategies that you as a founder can implement to make a mark in their industry.

#1. Embrace the Lean Methodology

What is lean methodology?

It is all about pivoting resources to create more value for customers with fewer resources. 

This principle encourages you to be more agile and allow rapid iteration based on customer feedback rather than spending years perfecting a product before it hits the market.

Want to implement it?

Here’s what you can do.

Build “Measure-Learn” Loop: What I did was develop a minimum viable product (MVP), a simple version of the product. You can do the same since it allows you to start the learning process as quickly as possible. After launching MVP, measure how customers use it and learn from their behaviors and feedback.

Here’s what I can recommend here:

  • Identify the core features that solve your customers’ primary needs and focus solely on those to develop your MVP.
  • Know the feedback channels where early users can communicate their experiences, suggestions, and complaints.
  • Analyze user behavior and feedback to make informed product development and iteration decisions.

#2. Focus on Customer Development

Let’s talk about taking our startup to the next level. 

It’s not just about getting customers – it’s about really getting to know them. We need to dive into their world, understand their struggles, and see how our product or service can make a difference in their lives. 

It’s like we’re detectives, piecing together the puzzle of our business hypothesis by actually chatting with our customers

What would you ideally do here?

Understand Customer Segments: I’d say, start dividing your target market into segments and develop a deep understanding of each segment’s demographics, behaviors, needs, and pain points. The idea is to get into their shoes and really feel what they feel.

Ensure your Product Clicks: When starting up, think of what you offer and consider whether it clicks with what our customers need. My thought was “Does my product solve their problems? Does it make their day better?” Put yourself through a tough grilling session to show customers the value proposition and ensure that the product’s promise matches what our customers are looking for.

I’d recommend the following actions here:

  • Talk to them – through surveys, interviews, or even casual chats. The goal? To gather real, raw insights about what they need and expect.
  • Use the collected data to create detailed profiles for each type of customer. This way, everyone on our team really understood we were serving. I think this should help your startup as well.
  • Try out different versions of our product with a few customer groups. It’s all about feedback here – understanding if you’re hitting the mark or if we need to pivot.

#3. Foster a Data-Driven Culture

The digital world is highly data driven since it fuels key decisions in a startup. 

I believe it’s essential for us to build a data-driven culture. This means, you’ll move from making decisions based on hunches or assumptions. Instead, the focus should be on data analytics and insights to guide our strategies and improve our outcomes.

What can you do?

Use Data Analytics Tools: You should be using these tools to gather, analyze, and interpret data related to customer behavior, market trends, and our business operations. Here, consider the adoption of pipeline forecasting that leverages AI to find patterns in marketing data. 

In turn, you’ll get areas for improvement since it can analyze historical data and predict the outcome for you to plan your.

Action Items:

  • Pinpoint key performance indicators (KPIs) that align with your business objectives and ensure they are measurable and actionable.
  • Next, you can consider training your team to understand and use data analytics tools. This might involve workshops or bringing in experts to build a data-savvy workforce.
  • Once everything is in place, regularly review data reports and dashboards. This gives us a clear picture of a startup’s health and helps adjust your strategies and predict future trends.

#4. Strengthen Your Financial Acumen

A good grip on financial skills is important to steer your business towards growth and making sure it stays on track. For this, you’ll have to understand the money side of things, which helps you manage your cash flow. Think of figuring out smart investment moves and sizing up any risks that come your way.

Here’s a tip on how you can get savvy with your finances.

Maintain Rigorous Financial Discipline: I’m really focused on cultivating a strong company culture, one that truly resonates with our mission. So, I’d suggest fostering open communication and encouraging a sense of ownership and collaboration among everyone in the team.

Action Items:

  • Get to know your financial statements inside out – I’m talking about the income statement, balance sheet, and cash flow statement. These are like the vital signs for your business’s financial health
  • Use financial forecasting that helps predict your future money moves. With this, you will have a heads-up on upcoming revenues, expenses, and how much cash you’ll need. Also, research on the available financial forecasting tools that can make predictions spot-on.
  • Don’t go at it alone. Regularly touch base with financial advisors or mentors. With them by your side, you’ll have a fresh perspective on your financial strategies to ensure you’re on the right path to hit your business goals.

5. Prioritize Team Building and Leadership Development

It is crucial to focus on building a solid team and developing strong leaders. This means putting our resources into the people who are going to propel our company forward. 

What you’ll aim for here?

Creating a culture where everyone collaborates and every team member has the chance to emerge as a leader.

What I would do:

Cultivate a Strong Company Culture: This culture should mirror our mission and foster open communication. It’s important that it encourages everyone to feel a sense of ownership and work together.

Invest in Leadership and Team Development: As founders, we’ll have to make way for opportunities for teams to enhance their skills, face new challenges, and grow in their careers.

Some concrete steps that you should consider taking:

  • Begin with clearly communicating your startup’s vision, mission, and values so that every team member is on the same page.
  • Conduct regular team-building activities and workshops to boost skills and strengthen a sense of unity and collaboration.
  • How about starting a mentorship program within our organization? The more experienced team members could guide and support the growth of newer or less experienced folks.
  • Alas… encourage feedback at all levels. We should keep striving to create an environment where open, honest communication is the norm and everyone feels safe to speak up.

I know it’s one thing to get your head around these ideas and quite another to actually make them a part of your everyday business life. But that’s where the real magic happens, right? It’s all in the doing. 

As a startup founder, this means more than just being a big dreamer. How about rolling up your sleeves to be the planner who pays attention to the smallest details. Ultimately, these tips and more tactics around it will help carve a leader in you who listens and cares and the learner who’s always ready to adapt

So, as you’re either starting out or moving forward on this entrepreneurial adventure, keep these practical tips right there.

May these be your guiding lights, helping you steer through the wild and exciting world of building a startup that’s not just a dream, but a thriving reality.

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12 Things I Learned in 12 Months of Working on My Startup

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A few weeks ago I launched my startup. It took exactly 12 months from the initial idea until the moment I saw my app in the App Store. And these were some of the most challenging, fun and exciting 12 months of my whole life. (more…)

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8 Actionable Ways to Get Your Startup’s First 100 Customers

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What’s the one thing that every business wants? Is it money, fame, or endless resources? The answer is quite simple—customers. Having customers is the sure-shot way of ensuring that your business stays afloat in the long run. No matter how good your product or services are, without people buying what you sell, you won’t reach anywhere. However, establishing a customer base is one of the most challenging things a business has to do, especially if you are just starting. (more…)

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