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5 Harsh Realities You Need To Be Aware Of Before Starting a Business

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Startup

When people imagine starting their own business, everything seems perfect. They think about quitting their jobs, making a positive impact on the world, and living the lifestyle they always dreamed of.

I know, because I hear it all the time. It’s easy to feel amped up and ready to take on the world. But once the reality of needing to do the work sets in, a lot of people gradually let go of their dream and look for another shortcut to success.

Running a business is hard. Now, this isn’t meant to put you off from doing so. Not at all. Instead, think of it as a way of preparing yourself for the difficulties that lie ahead.

Starting and running your business is an incredible journey for those who are willing to walk that road. So if you think you have what it takes, learning about the harsh truths of running a business will help you to keep moving when you encounter obstacles.

Here are five things you should know before starting a business:

1. It’s a commitment

When people say that learning a skill or building anything requires a long-term approach, many of us just nod our heads. It’s as if we hear it all the time, but it doesn’t really register internally. As a result, many people get tired of working on their businesses and chase after something new because it feels fresh and exciting.

Starting and sticking to a business is like trying to master any skill. It takes patience and responsibility to nurture and grow a business. Sometimes working on it can feel boring, while other times it can be fun. The key is to be consistent in your actions.

“We only get to play this game one time…one life.” – Gary Vaynerchuk

2. There will be growing pains at every corner

“If I can just get this off the ground, then everything will be okay.” This is a common train of thought people have when they first start a business. They figure that if they can just get past the beginning, which they believe is the hard part, then it’ll be smooth sailing afterward.

While this may be a nice way to motivate yourself initially, the truth is that each stage of your business will have its difficulties. Once you’ve learned to grow your business past one step, then the next step will have a different set of challenges. You’ll have to continually think about how to get your business to grow, innovate, and sustain itself in a changing environment.

3. You’re not as good as you think

People, especially beginners, tend to overestimate their abilities. We think we can do anything we set our minds to. It’s only when we attempt something and fail that we realize our true skill level. That’s okay. It’s completely normal and just part of the process. You can keep improving by practicing and learning from those who are more advanced than you are.

4. You will learn a lot

Unlike most jobs, where you do the same things over and over again, starting a business requires you to be a jack-of-all-trades. You’ll have to manage many aspects of the business yourself, which will teach you a lot in the process. Sometimes you learn by trying things out, and other times you learn by making mistakes.

Outside of your business, you’ll also learn along the way by reading articles and books, attending seminars, or talking to other people.

“Learning never exhausts the mind.” – Leonardo da Vinci

5. You will feel like giving up

Do you ever hear successful people talk about those tough times they faced when they were starting out? That will be you. You will question your efforts. You will want to pull your hair out as you wonder what on Earth you are doing. You will want to quit. Everyone who tries something will have these thoughts going through their heads. The difference is whether you will give in, or whether you will keep pushing forward.

What are you struggling with at the moment? Please leave your thoughts in the comments section below!

Melissa Chu is the founder of Jumpstart Your Dream Life, where she helps people get productive and incorporate positive habits into their everyday lives. You can download the guide that shows you how to achieve your goals (without giving up). So get started today. Download the guide here.

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8 Comments

8 Comments

  1. Charlie

    Feb 16, 2017 at 5:26 pm

    This is a good list, I can closely relate to number 3, not only was I not as good as I thought but I also tried doing it all myself. One major caveat when first starting out is thinking and feeling like it all must be done by you. This only allowed me to be mediocre at best. I think there are probably several more points that can be covered here, one I would add is failure, the odds are stacked against you especially when you go into a well saturated niche. Dealing with failure properly is so important, otherwise there’s no restart. This is where that commitment point comes in handy. If we’re only doing this for money the motivation will run out faster than if we were doing it to change our own lives and increase our own happiness and satisfaction. That’s why failure needs to be addressed properly when going it alone.

  2. mpanga Lawrence

    Jan 28, 2017 at 3:35 pm

    Hello Stephens
    Right from my childhood,i have been trying to start up different businesses but hardly come out.
    Seriously am innovative and creative but things are not working out I don’t know why.
    Am good at viewing opportunities when others don’t see them.
    From today am going to start using my weakness to achieve my success.
    When it comes out I will share with you.thanks brother

  3. Kurtis Stephens

    Nov 17, 2016 at 6:21 am

    Hi Melissa,

    I’m glad that I found this post! It is very insightful – I am going through these difficulties currently with my new startup.

    I definitely agree with all the points listed. In the beginning, it can be so exciting and so much fun; “Yeah, I’m starting my own business!”. But then quickly, as the work adds up, the long hours build up and progress is slow, it can become disheartening and tough. It’s definitely not a commitment to take lightly.

    I thought it was going to be a breeze when I first started, considering my knowledge on the topic. However, knowledge is just one aspect of the whole process. I find that progress is slow, but it’s still worth it. They say time is the only healer – I think that’s true for business too. You need to put the time in to nurture and progress, stay committed, stay motivated and keep having fun.

    The results will come.

    Thanks for the post!

    Kind regards,
    Kurtis Stephens/

    • Melissa Chu

      Nov 17, 2016 at 3:19 pm

      Definitely, Stephen! I’ve been there with the whole excitement and energetic thing in the beginning, and then the disheartening feelings that follow.

      Interesting you mention that time is the only healer – especially nowadays, we’re losing patience as a society and everything needs to be fast-paced or quick. Otherwise, our attention span goes off to somewhere else, which doesn’t help when commitment is required.

      I find that picking up fun hobbies outside of your long-term commitment can give you renewed energy. Also, there isn’t that same pressure to keep going if you get bored or tired of your hobby, which is refreshing.

      thanks for reading!
      Melissa

  4. Cor the Coach

    Nov 13, 2016 at 5:20 pm

    Things that can be added:

    – Refocus on what your REAL goals are
    – Kill a lot of your ideas/darlings
    – Expect unexpected, possibilities, people and support
    – You are not alone, but you are not always surrounded with the like minded people.

    The moment you do not believe in yourself, you will lose a lot more than business.
    So find the people who do believe in you, or at least to whom you can talk about. A coach, mentor or a very good friend helps definitely.

    • Melissa Chu

      Nov 14, 2016 at 3:11 pm

      Great points Cor, especially about surrounding yourself with the right people. There will be a lot of people who don’t support what you do, whether well-intentioned or not.

      thanks for reading!
      Melissa

  5. Lawrence Berry

    Nov 13, 2016 at 4:43 am

    These are truly some harsh realities that people have to become accustomed to if they want to be successful in the business world. They have to know what they are getting themselves into because starting a business can be a very hard endeavor, especially if you have too many expectations in the beginning. You have to know that you will learn a lot, and that there will be challenges. But never giving up is the only surefire way that you will not fail.

    • Melissa Chu

      Nov 14, 2016 at 3:12 pm

      So true how people can have too many expectations, Lawrence. I think it’s also made worse by the fact that all this hype is made about the rewards, but not enough about the world involved.

      Thanks for reading!
      Melissa

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Startups

7 Main Reasons Why You Need a Digital Marketing Strategy in 2018

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digital marketing strategy

The face of marketing has changed significantly in the past few decades and even more so in the past few years. People are more informed when making purchases, thanks to the overwhelming availability of information online for virtually all products, companies, and people. Now, followers are your potential customers. As a result, digital marketing has become the preferred marketing strategy for many companies that exist today.

Even so, not all companies have a solid marketing strategy from which they work. While many companies are successfully trucking along without any clear digital marketing strategy, they are not necessarily harnessing the full power of this online trend. If you are serious about making gains with your company or brand, then you must create a clear, actionable digital marketing strategy.

Not totally convinced your company needs one? Here are seven reasons why your company needs one stat:

1. A clear strategy will help you focus

Most companies want to increase their online reach by getting more Instagram followers or growing their Facebook page. This, however, does not serve as a sufficient goal. Companies must determine how many followers they want and by how much they want to increase their conversion rate. Without a clear, written strategy, it is difficult for companies to come up with an effective action plan since they aren’t quite clear on what their goals are.

2. Existing & start-up competitors will take your potential customers

Digital marketing is a very competitive industry and if you’re not actively competing then you are losing. For every hour that you are not making your brand known and accessible, you are losing potential customers to your competitors and all of your future competitors. This alone, should inspire you to get your digital marketing game strong.

3. Help you optimize and adapt

With a well-written plan, companies are able to regularly check in on their current methods and determine if they are working as effectively as planned. A plan can not only help you set goals, but it can also include built-in “check-ups” that allow you to regularly assess your methods. By regularly checking the efficacy of your methods, you can be certain that you won’t be wasting any valuable time or resources on things that simply are not working.

Iconosquare, for example, allows you to fully monitor the statistics of your Instagram page. By having access to detailed real-time stats, you can quickly adjust your strategy to follow the methods that work best.

“Time is the most valuable thing a man can spend.” – Theophrastus

4. Limit duplication of content or resources

Most companies have several people working in marketing and outreach. Even in small businesses, communication can get mixed and initiatives can be duplicated. By creating a clear digital marketing strategy, you are able to ensure that everyone on your team is on the same page. This will prevent not only duplicate content but also duplicate accounts, tools, and programs used. This saves both time and money.

5. Prepares responsive and efficient organization

The difference between a traditional marketing strategy and a digital one is that you are given a lot more wiggle room in your digital marketing strategy. One of the main challenges in marketing is responding to your audience, the market, and the everyday problems that come with running a business. With a solid marketing strategy, you can experiment with new approaches to gaining and keeping customers. This also means that you can eliminate methods that do not work.

6. You won’t know your online demand

You may think that you have an incredible tool, but your target audience may not agree. By crafting an online marketing strategy, you are better able to not only provide better services but also find out which services your potential customers actually want. In fact, many companies function solely through Instagram, placing all of their product and marketing efforts on the social media platform. By doing so, they are able to closely monitor customer profiles and behaviors, the behavior of competitors, and the latest trends in the market. An Instagram account can help you easily achieve each of these things.

Engage, Enlighten, Encourage and especially…just be yourself! Social media is a community effort, everyone is an asset.” – Susan Cooper

7. Helps in the management of resources

Without a well-thought out strategy, your business can quickly overspend on resources or tools that many not be effective. By setting a budget within your plan, you are better able to allocate funds in an efficient manner. This is absolutely crucial for any business that is looking to make a profit.

A super common strategy among Instagram marketers is to use helpful tools that don’t break the bank. Many marketers pay for programs that gain Instagram followers for a minimal cost so that they can focus their main resources on ad campaigns and creative design, instead.

Creating a digital marketing strategy doesn’t need to be a high-brow project. You can simply begin by stating clear goals and experimenting with tools that fit within your budget. In fact, a good online marketing strategy will likely change several times each year as it adapts to the audience and trends. The important thing is that you make one.

How are you growing your digitial marketing strategies for 2018? Let us know through the comments below!

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5 Steps to Regaining Stability After Your Million Dollar Business Idea Fails

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business failure

You probably must have heard that seven out of ten businesses fail within the first ten years of their conception. While this revelation might seem alarming, the fact remains that business failure is like a cake from which every entrepreneur must have, at least, a bite.

The common assumption of most entrepreneurs is that businesses with no solid ideas are the ones that fail. So instead of taking their foot off the ground, they spend years trying to come up with the “million-dollar” idea they believe won’t fail.

No doubt, bad business ideas lead to failure often. But the truth is, business failure isn’t a tale that only organizations with bad ideas tell. Because, in most cases, good ideas fail too. In fact, several good ideas executed by some of the world’s most successful business leaders in the early stages of their careers, failed.

Bill Gates, co-founder of Microsoft Corporation, once started Traf-O-Data alongside Paul Allena data-analyzing company that failed. Steve Jobs, while he was CEO at Apple, launched Apple Lisa, Apple III and other great products that failed. Henry Ford, the founder of Ford Motor Company, earlier launched two automotive companies that failed.

Although these entrepreneurs encountered failure, they never allowed it prevent them from working towards success.

In case your good business idea has failed and you’re about quitting, below are five actionable steps you can take to regain stability:

1. Accept the truth

Many entrepreneurs are suppressed by their failures because they keep running from the truth. When a business idea fails, it’s pointless shading the truth or shying away from the reality. A failed business idea is a failed business idea, period! Microsoft, for example, came into existence as a result of Gates’ ability to accept the truththat Traf-O-Data had failed.

Steve Jobs, co-founder of Apple, once said, “If I try my best and fail, well I have tried my best.” Once business owners learn to accept the bitter truth that their excellent business idea has failed and cease investing their time, money, and energy trying to breathe life into it, getting back on track will become less difficult.

“The world won’t care about your self-esteem. The world will expect you to accomplish something BEFORE you feel good about yourself.” – Bill Gates

2. Take responsibility

One of the many wrong steps business owners and executives take after their great business idea fails is playing the blame game—that is, giving excuses for their failure. Whether you head an Inc. 500 company or a mom-and-pop store, you have to take responsibility when your good business idea fails.

Taking responsibility, in the case of a large organization, doesn’t mean avoiding to discipline anyone whose incompetence directly led to the failure. Rather, it means spending less time on passing blames and giving excuses, and focusing more on the way forward. Instead of shifting blame when a good business idea fails, take responsibility for the failure and ensure you prevent similar failures from reoccurring.

3. Ask “why?”

For every failure a business experiences, there’s always a cause. Most times, good ideas fail due to poor execution, improper planning, wrong managerial decisions and the absence of professional hands. Knowing every failure has a cause, you need to ask yourself, “Why did ‘X’ business idea fail?”

Bill Gates, one of the world’s most successful business leaders, once said, “It’s fine to celebrate success, but it is more important to heed the lessons of failure.” When you know the cause of the failure, you will be able to extract a lesson or two from the unpleasant event. These lessons, in the future, can serve as a mapguiding you on the pathway to success when you embark on a similar quest.

4. Avoid negativity

In entrepreneurship, failure is one ingredient that makes the journey worthwhile. Therefore when a business idea fails, entrepreneurs are left with only two options: to come up with a new idea or modify the existing one, and get going. Although this is the norm, many entrepreneurs never make it back up because of one thing: Negativity.

Negativity (or pessimism) alone can ravage any entrepreneur’s business journey. Embracing self-doubt, spending time with toxic individuals, and submitting one’s self to chance are loopholes through which negativity steps in to ruin an entrepreneur’s career. To gain stability after your good business idea fails, you must abstain from pessimistic thinking and build relationships with positive, like-minded individuals.

“Defeat is a state of mind; no one is ever defeated until defeat has been accepted as a reality.” – Bruce Lee

5. Take the punches and keep moving

The ability to get up and keep moving after experiencing multiple failures is what differentiates real entrepreneurs from “aspiring” entrepreneurs. Or borrowing Steve Jobs’ words, “I am convinced that about half of what separates successful entrepreneurs from the unsuccessful ones is pure perseverance.”

You are an entrepreneur. One with a goal, vision, and mission. You didn’t start out as an entrepreneur believing the journey would be filled with rainbows and unicorns, did you? When your best business idea fails, remember that you are an entrepreneur. And in entrepreneurship, throwing in the towel sooner than necessaryeven after experiencing failureis against the rules of the game.

How do you recover from a set back?  Comment below!

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‘Computer Says No’ Type People Are The Problem.

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Saying no without listening is the problem.

It’s the cause of why we fail to innovate. It’s a form of arrogance that focuses all of our energy on our own selfish thoughts. This never-ending pursuit of one’s self-importance is the cause of everything, as a human race, we do not want.

 

Ciggies, Panadol and Coke Zero enter the room.

Last week, I had a profitable business idea squashed by one of those computer says no types that this article is based on.

She entered the room.
Before I opened my mouth, she looked like she was pissed off and acted superior.

She then placed her half-smoked packet of ciggies, her full bottle of Coke Zero (who’s fooled by this so-called ‘healthy option’) and a fresh packet of Panadol on the table. If that’s not a cocktail of problems right, there then I don’t know what is – back to the story.

I explained the business proposition, and before I finished, she said no.

“That’s not how we do things.”
“Let’s create a project.”
“Let’s write a strategy.”
“We don’t have the resources.”

When is it ever the right time? When will we ever have the right strategy? From what I’ve seen, a project equals taking our time and wasting our competitive advantage. Success is about moving quickly. Success is about listening. Success is about trying new things and not following the old way.

 

It’s the lack of emotion that is the problem.

This story above was disappointing for the fact that there was no emotion. It wasn’t two people having a conversation; it was one person being unemotional like a computer and spitting out a generic answer, while the other person just wanted to be heard.

 

No one has all the answers.

The computer says no mindset suggests that there is a hierarchy. It suggests that some people should be worshipped while others should bow down. This old model of the business world died a long time ago.

“We’re all global citizens that are equal and deserve to be heard”

The very answers these computer says no people think they have are what needs to change. Their answers are built on old models and need an upgrade. There is no one answer. The solution to different problems is never the same and the solutions are forever changing. The market is forever changing. People are forever changing. Nothing is static. Everything is in flux.

 

They don’t listen; they just say no.

Listening is where everything begins. You’ll never be successful unless you learn to listen. Listening is a skill and it’s forgotten way too often. Less is more. Understanding the problem and being brilliant is in the listening.

“Most of the answers you seek are hidden in the dialogue you’re currently ignoring”

 

Next time the computer says no, tell the computer you’re only accepting yes.

Let’s not make this a whinge session. What can we do about these computer says no people? Tell them that you’re only accepting yes. Be relentless. Challenge them and make them feel uncomfortable. Don’t allow yourself to be ignored. Do all of this with respect.

Part of what causes these no responses is laziness. It’s easier to say no than it is to exuberate energy and try to say yes. Now I’m not saying the Panadol, Coke Zero and ciggies were the entire cause (or am I?) but energy sure plays a part. When we’re living in a state of perpetual tiredness, we make dumb, computer says no, decisions.

You do have energy though. Your energy can break through the no’s and somehow find a way to get to a yes. Don’t accept defeat. Refuse to fail.

 

It’s easy to say no.

No requires very little thought. No says “Let’s just remain the same and not change anything.”

No is the easy way out for these computer says no people. Don’t let them win so easily.

See their weakness for saying yes and challenge it.

 

Make them work for their no.

Get them to give you clear and articulate reasons as to why the answer is no. Don’t let them get away with being lazy. Force factual evidence to be provided. Bring other people in to support your rationale for them to say yes. Go up the line. Speak to their boss if you have to.

Whatever you do, make them work for their no. Don’t allow them to get away with being lazy.

Don’t let the human race fail to progress because someone is not willing to use critical thinking and spend time tackling issues head-on.

 

No doesn’t mean no.

No means not right now.
No means I’m scared.
No means I don’t understand.
No means I might be threatened by you.

Try to find the true meaning of why you’re being told no. Computer says no type people are often fearful and scared of uncertainty. They look for proven ways rather than going into the shadows and searching for the unknown – also known as a new approach.

 

All is not lost.

These people can be changed. We can change their mindset. All of us need to be part of the solution to stamp out this epidemic. Pointing out the problem is not enough; we must empower each other to be part of the solution.

 

***Final Thought***

Computer says no people are tearing apart good ideas. They’re preventing innovation and they must be stopped. You have the power to force them to change and to listen. It begins and ends with each one of us not allowing this mediocrity in our communities, companies and social lives to continue on.

I declare Computer Say’s No Behaviour unacceptable.

If you want to increase your productivity and learn some more valuable life hacks, then join my private mailing list on timdenning.net

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Startups

Process And Red Tape Does Not Equal Progress.

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The corporate world has taught me the truth about process and red tape:

“Process creates people who follow it and believe they are superior for doing so. The reality is that the people who question the process are the true heroes”

Obviously, some process is needed, but the traditional way makes no sense.

Here’s how to rethink process:

 

Most processes lack critical thinking.

Ask yourself “Why are we following this process?”

Modern business requires you to think and know why you do what you do. Just because it’s the way it’s always been done, does not make it’s functional or practical. My grandpa’s horse and cart was functional back in the 1920’s and today it’s a useless pile of junk.

Critical thinking is needed with respect to “process.” Don’t become a process sook.

 

A lot of processes are kept beyond their expiry date.

The challenge is that the digital world is moving so fast. The moment you invent a process, the customer starts to do something different. That’s why a flexible process with minimal framework is ideal.

The process must move with the market and the people who use the process.

” Too much process turns people into critics that ridicule anyone who goes ‘outside of process’ “

Process can quickly become a means for people to become critical and insult each other. Going outside of the process to make business happen (which pays the bills) is not something that should be looked down upon. Instead, when this happens, we need to ask why the process wasn’t suitable.

 

Every process should regularly be reviewed.

Okay, so you have to have a process for something. It needs to be continually challenged.

Why do we have this process?
What do customers think of it?
Is it still timely?
Are there any steps in the process we can remove?

Out of date processes are destroying your business and if you are working for a company that has to follow them, you become de-motivated quickly.

There’s always another business you can work for that doesn’t have the same dumb process, so keeping people becomes hard as well thanks to too much process.

 

Rounding up things together like sheep.

You can’t round people and businesses up like a flock of sheep.

No two people are the same.
No two businesses are the same.

Unfortunately, very few business and people are the same. I rejoice that fact otherwise life would suck big time. We’d become even more bored and spend more time looking at a not so smartphone.

Embrace individuality. Let people think outside the process box. You’ll be amazed by the results. You might even build the next Facebook by doing so. When I see a black cat, with a white spot on it’s back, walk under a ladder, I shout out loud and do a dance!

Praise the heavens for the fact that the black cat is busting an ancient superstition. It’s time to sing Superstitious by Stevie wonder and get back in the groove.

 

Process kills innovation.

For the record, I hate the word innovation. It’s a buzz word that is frequently used and rarely practiced. Innovation can only thrive when we have a growth mindset. A growth mindset says that nobody is right and nobody is wrong. We’re all right in our own way and we are all continuously learning.

You can’t have an innovative culture or workplace if you suffocate it with the lethal gas that is too much process. Process turns dreamers (innovators) into deranged zombies that can’t wait to get home and get drunk.

 

Imagine if Uber followed the process.

That’s right: What if Uber did what every other taxi company did? We’d have the same broken system that doesn’t serve the customer or the driver. We’d never know what it was like to book a service, and then walk away without pulling our wallet out.

 

Frustration with “the process” is good.

You know why I love it when people get pissed off at too much process? Because it creates the seed of entrepreneurs. Entrepreneurs can’t take too much process and they end up proving people wrong by going and doing something better themselves.

If people didn’t get pissed off by out of date process, then we wouldn’t have a lot of the tech giants we have today. So again, don’t let the negativity take over. Take the negativity that is process and go and fix the problem, and charge money for it.

For those that do, I look forward to your email in the future that says thank you. Your welcome for these words I write which encourage you to stand up to BS process that makes no sense. Rebels move the world forward with their passion and they spit in the face of being suppressed by mediocrity.

We all have potential.
We can all do crazy, awesome stuff.
Don’t let too much process ruin the fun party!

 

In conclusion….

Process kills dreams.
Process kills companies.
Process kills ideas.
Process kills people and their potential.

If you want to increase your productivity and learn some more valuable life hacks, then join my private mailing list on timdenning.net

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Life

3 Necessities That Will Help You Think Big and Stay Positive

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think big, stay positive

To think big and keep hope during difficult times is not easy. When you can’t afford to pay your bills, you haven’t had more than two hours of sleep in a few nights, and you are experiencing some relationship challenges, it can be tough to believe that things will ultimately work out. The ability to see beyond your current circumstances and understand that everything will eventually come together is the life of an entrepreneur. (more…)

Vernon Lindsay, PhD is a writer, consultant, coach, husband, and father. He works with individuals and businesses to create pathways to achieve success in personal development. Other articles of his can be found on his weekly column at The Good Men Project. You can check out his website to learn more about him: www.vlindsayphd.com

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8 Comments

8 Comments

  1. Charlie

    Feb 16, 2017 at 5:26 pm

    This is a good list, I can closely relate to number 3, not only was I not as good as I thought but I also tried doing it all myself. One major caveat when first starting out is thinking and feeling like it all must be done by you. This only allowed me to be mediocre at best. I think there are probably several more points that can be covered here, one I would add is failure, the odds are stacked against you especially when you go into a well saturated niche. Dealing with failure properly is so important, otherwise there’s no restart. This is where that commitment point comes in handy. If we’re only doing this for money the motivation will run out faster than if we were doing it to change our own lives and increase our own happiness and satisfaction. That’s why failure needs to be addressed properly when going it alone.

  2. mpanga Lawrence

    Jan 28, 2017 at 3:35 pm

    Hello Stephens
    Right from my childhood,i have been trying to start up different businesses but hardly come out.
    Seriously am innovative and creative but things are not working out I don’t know why.
    Am good at viewing opportunities when others don’t see them.
    From today am going to start using my weakness to achieve my success.
    When it comes out I will share with you.thanks brother

  3. Kurtis Stephens

    Nov 17, 2016 at 6:21 am

    Hi Melissa,

    I’m glad that I found this post! It is very insightful – I am going through these difficulties currently with my new startup.

    I definitely agree with all the points listed. In the beginning, it can be so exciting and so much fun; “Yeah, I’m starting my own business!”. But then quickly, as the work adds up, the long hours build up and progress is slow, it can become disheartening and tough. It’s definitely not a commitment to take lightly.

    I thought it was going to be a breeze when I first started, considering my knowledge on the topic. However, knowledge is just one aspect of the whole process. I find that progress is slow, but it’s still worth it. They say time is the only healer – I think that’s true for business too. You need to put the time in to nurture and progress, stay committed, stay motivated and keep having fun.

    The results will come.

    Thanks for the post!

    Kind regards,
    Kurtis Stephens/

    • Melissa Chu

      Nov 17, 2016 at 3:19 pm

      Definitely, Stephen! I’ve been there with the whole excitement and energetic thing in the beginning, and then the disheartening feelings that follow.

      Interesting you mention that time is the only healer – especially nowadays, we’re losing patience as a society and everything needs to be fast-paced or quick. Otherwise, our attention span goes off to somewhere else, which doesn’t help when commitment is required.

      I find that picking up fun hobbies outside of your long-term commitment can give you renewed energy. Also, there isn’t that same pressure to keep going if you get bored or tired of your hobby, which is refreshing.

      thanks for reading!
      Melissa

  4. Cor the Coach

    Nov 13, 2016 at 5:20 pm

    Things that can be added:

    – Refocus on what your REAL goals are
    – Kill a lot of your ideas/darlings
    – Expect unexpected, possibilities, people and support
    – You are not alone, but you are not always surrounded with the like minded people.

    The moment you do not believe in yourself, you will lose a lot more than business.
    So find the people who do believe in you, or at least to whom you can talk about. A coach, mentor or a very good friend helps definitely.

    • Melissa Chu

      Nov 14, 2016 at 3:11 pm

      Great points Cor, especially about surrounding yourself with the right people. There will be a lot of people who don’t support what you do, whether well-intentioned or not.

      thanks for reading!
      Melissa

  5. Lawrence Berry

    Nov 13, 2016 at 4:43 am

    These are truly some harsh realities that people have to become accustomed to if they want to be successful in the business world. They have to know what they are getting themselves into because starting a business can be a very hard endeavor, especially if you have too many expectations in the beginning. You have to know that you will learn a lot, and that there will be challenges. But never giving up is the only surefire way that you will not fail.

    • Melissa Chu

      Nov 14, 2016 at 3:12 pm

      So true how people can have too many expectations, Lawrence. I think it’s also made worse by the fact that all this hype is made about the rewards, but not enough about the world involved.

      Thanks for reading!
      Melissa

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7 Main Reasons Why You Need a Digital Marketing Strategy in 2018

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digital marketing strategy

The face of marketing has changed significantly in the past few decades and even more so in the past few years. People are more informed when making purchases, thanks to the overwhelming availability of information online for virtually all products, companies, and people. Now, followers are your potential customers. As a result, digital marketing has become the preferred marketing strategy for many companies that exist today.

Even so, not all companies have a solid marketing strategy from which they work. While many companies are successfully trucking along without any clear digital marketing strategy, they are not necessarily harnessing the full power of this online trend. If you are serious about making gains with your company or brand, then you must create a clear, actionable digital marketing strategy.

Not totally convinced your company needs one? Here are seven reasons why your company needs one stat:

1. A clear strategy will help you focus

Most companies want to increase their online reach by getting more Instagram followers or growing their Facebook page. This, however, does not serve as a sufficient goal. Companies must determine how many followers they want and by how much they want to increase their conversion rate. Without a clear, written strategy, it is difficult for companies to come up with an effective action plan since they aren’t quite clear on what their goals are.

2. Existing & start-up competitors will take your potential customers

Digital marketing is a very competitive industry and if you’re not actively competing then you are losing. For every hour that you are not making your brand known and accessible, you are losing potential customers to your competitors and all of your future competitors. This alone, should inspire you to get your digital marketing game strong.

3. Help you optimize and adapt

With a well-written plan, companies are able to regularly check in on their current methods and determine if they are working as effectively as planned. A plan can not only help you set goals, but it can also include built-in “check-ups” that allow you to regularly assess your methods. By regularly checking the efficacy of your methods, you can be certain that you won’t be wasting any valuable time or resources on things that simply are not working.

Iconosquare, for example, allows you to fully monitor the statistics of your Instagram page. By having access to detailed real-time stats, you can quickly adjust your strategy to follow the methods that work best.

“Time is the most valuable thing a man can spend.” – Theophrastus

4. Limit duplication of content or resources

Most companies have several people working in marketing and outreach. Even in small businesses, communication can get mixed and initiatives can be duplicated. By creating a clear digital marketing strategy, you are able to ensure that everyone on your team is on the same page. This will prevent not only duplicate content but also duplicate accounts, tools, and programs used. This saves both time and money.

5. Prepares responsive and efficient organization

The difference between a traditional marketing strategy and a digital one is that you are given a lot more wiggle room in your digital marketing strategy. One of the main challenges in marketing is responding to your audience, the market, and the everyday problems that come with running a business. With a solid marketing strategy, you can experiment with new approaches to gaining and keeping customers. This also means that you can eliminate methods that do not work.

6. You won’t know your online demand

You may think that you have an incredible tool, but your target audience may not agree. By crafting an online marketing strategy, you are better able to not only provide better services but also find out which services your potential customers actually want. In fact, many companies function solely through Instagram, placing all of their product and marketing efforts on the social media platform. By doing so, they are able to closely monitor customer profiles and behaviors, the behavior of competitors, and the latest trends in the market. An Instagram account can help you easily achieve each of these things.

Engage, Enlighten, Encourage and especially…just be yourself! Social media is a community effort, everyone is an asset.” – Susan Cooper

7. Helps in the management of resources

Without a well-thought out strategy, your business can quickly overspend on resources or tools that many not be effective. By setting a budget within your plan, you are better able to allocate funds in an efficient manner. This is absolutely crucial for any business that is looking to make a profit.

A super common strategy among Instagram marketers is to use helpful tools that don’t break the bank. Many marketers pay for programs that gain Instagram followers for a minimal cost so that they can focus their main resources on ad campaigns and creative design, instead.

Creating a digital marketing strategy doesn’t need to be a high-brow project. You can simply begin by stating clear goals and experimenting with tools that fit within your budget. In fact, a good online marketing strategy will likely change several times each year as it adapts to the audience and trends. The important thing is that you make one.

How are you growing your digitial marketing strategies for 2018? Let us know through the comments below!

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5 Steps to Regaining Stability After Your Million Dollar Business Idea Fails

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business failure

You probably must have heard that seven out of ten businesses fail within the first ten years of their conception. While this revelation might seem alarming, the fact remains that business failure is like a cake from which every entrepreneur must have, at least, a bite.

The common assumption of most entrepreneurs is that businesses with no solid ideas are the ones that fail. So instead of taking their foot off the ground, they spend years trying to come up with the “million-dollar” idea they believe won’t fail.

No doubt, bad business ideas lead to failure often. But the truth is, business failure isn’t a tale that only organizations with bad ideas tell. Because, in most cases, good ideas fail too. In fact, several good ideas executed by some of the world’s most successful business leaders in the early stages of their careers, failed.

Bill Gates, co-founder of Microsoft Corporation, once started Traf-O-Data alongside Paul Allena data-analyzing company that failed. Steve Jobs, while he was CEO at Apple, launched Apple Lisa, Apple III and other great products that failed. Henry Ford, the founder of Ford Motor Company, earlier launched two automotive companies that failed.

Although these entrepreneurs encountered failure, they never allowed it prevent them from working towards success.

In case your good business idea has failed and you’re about quitting, below are five actionable steps you can take to regain stability:

1. Accept the truth

Many entrepreneurs are suppressed by their failures because they keep running from the truth. When a business idea fails, it’s pointless shading the truth or shying away from the reality. A failed business idea is a failed business idea, period! Microsoft, for example, came into existence as a result of Gates’ ability to accept the truththat Traf-O-Data had failed.

Steve Jobs, co-founder of Apple, once said, “If I try my best and fail, well I have tried my best.” Once business owners learn to accept the bitter truth that their excellent business idea has failed and cease investing their time, money, and energy trying to breathe life into it, getting back on track will become less difficult.

“The world won’t care about your self-esteem. The world will expect you to accomplish something BEFORE you feel good about yourself.” – Bill Gates

2. Take responsibility

One of the many wrong steps business owners and executives take after their great business idea fails is playing the blame game—that is, giving excuses for their failure. Whether you head an Inc. 500 company or a mom-and-pop store, you have to take responsibility when your good business idea fails.

Taking responsibility, in the case of a large organization, doesn’t mean avoiding to discipline anyone whose incompetence directly led to the failure. Rather, it means spending less time on passing blames and giving excuses, and focusing more on the way forward. Instead of shifting blame when a good business idea fails, take responsibility for the failure and ensure you prevent similar failures from reoccurring.

3. Ask “why?”

For every failure a business experiences, there’s always a cause. Most times, good ideas fail due to poor execution, improper planning, wrong managerial decisions and the absence of professional hands. Knowing every failure has a cause, you need to ask yourself, “Why did ‘X’ business idea fail?”

Bill Gates, one of the world’s most successful business leaders, once said, “It’s fine to celebrate success, but it is more important to heed the lessons of failure.” When you know the cause of the failure, you will be able to extract a lesson or two from the unpleasant event. These lessons, in the future, can serve as a mapguiding you on the pathway to success when you embark on a similar quest.

4. Avoid negativity

In entrepreneurship, failure is one ingredient that makes the journey worthwhile. Therefore when a business idea fails, entrepreneurs are left with only two options: to come up with a new idea or modify the existing one, and get going. Although this is the norm, many entrepreneurs never make it back up because of one thing: Negativity.

Negativity (or pessimism) alone can ravage any entrepreneur’s business journey. Embracing self-doubt, spending time with toxic individuals, and submitting one’s self to chance are loopholes through which negativity steps in to ruin an entrepreneur’s career. To gain stability after your good business idea fails, you must abstain from pessimistic thinking and build relationships with positive, like-minded individuals.

“Defeat is a state of mind; no one is ever defeated until defeat has been accepted as a reality.” – Bruce Lee

5. Take the punches and keep moving

The ability to get up and keep moving after experiencing multiple failures is what differentiates real entrepreneurs from “aspiring” entrepreneurs. Or borrowing Steve Jobs’ words, “I am convinced that about half of what separates successful entrepreneurs from the unsuccessful ones is pure perseverance.”

You are an entrepreneur. One with a goal, vision, and mission. You didn’t start out as an entrepreneur believing the journey would be filled with rainbows and unicorns, did you? When your best business idea fails, remember that you are an entrepreneur. And in entrepreneurship, throwing in the towel sooner than necessaryeven after experiencing failureis against the rules of the game.

How do you recover from a set back?  Comment below!

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‘Computer Says No’ Type People Are The Problem.

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Saying no without listening is the problem.

It’s the cause of why we fail to innovate. It’s a form of arrogance that focuses all of our energy on our own selfish thoughts. This never-ending pursuit of one’s self-importance is the cause of everything, as a human race, we do not want.

 

Ciggies, Panadol and Coke Zero enter the room.

Last week, I had a profitable business idea squashed by one of those computer says no types that this article is based on.

She entered the room.
Before I opened my mouth, she looked like she was pissed off and acted superior.

She then placed her half-smoked packet of ciggies, her full bottle of Coke Zero (who’s fooled by this so-called ‘healthy option’) and a fresh packet of Panadol on the table. If that’s not a cocktail of problems right, there then I don’t know what is – back to the story.

I explained the business proposition, and before I finished, she said no.

“That’s not how we do things.”
“Let’s create a project.”
“Let’s write a strategy.”
“We don’t have the resources.”

When is it ever the right time? When will we ever have the right strategy? From what I’ve seen, a project equals taking our time and wasting our competitive advantage. Success is about moving quickly. Success is about listening. Success is about trying new things and not following the old way.

 

It’s the lack of emotion that is the problem.

This story above was disappointing for the fact that there was no emotion. It wasn’t two people having a conversation; it was one person being unemotional like a computer and spitting out a generic answer, while the other person just wanted to be heard.

 

No one has all the answers.

The computer says no mindset suggests that there is a hierarchy. It suggests that some people should be worshipped while others should bow down. This old model of the business world died a long time ago.

“We’re all global citizens that are equal and deserve to be heard”

The very answers these computer says no people think they have are what needs to change. Their answers are built on old models and need an upgrade. There is no one answer. The solution to different problems is never the same and the solutions are forever changing. The market is forever changing. People are forever changing. Nothing is static. Everything is in flux.

 

They don’t listen; they just say no.

Listening is where everything begins. You’ll never be successful unless you learn to listen. Listening is a skill and it’s forgotten way too often. Less is more. Understanding the problem and being brilliant is in the listening.

“Most of the answers you seek are hidden in the dialogue you’re currently ignoring”

 

Next time the computer says no, tell the computer you’re only accepting yes.

Let’s not make this a whinge session. What can we do about these computer says no people? Tell them that you’re only accepting yes. Be relentless. Challenge them and make them feel uncomfortable. Don’t allow yourself to be ignored. Do all of this with respect.

Part of what causes these no responses is laziness. It’s easier to say no than it is to exuberate energy and try to say yes. Now I’m not saying the Panadol, Coke Zero and ciggies were the entire cause (or am I?) but energy sure plays a part. When we’re living in a state of perpetual tiredness, we make dumb, computer says no, decisions.

You do have energy though. Your energy can break through the no’s and somehow find a way to get to a yes. Don’t accept defeat. Refuse to fail.

 

It’s easy to say no.

No requires very little thought. No says “Let’s just remain the same and not change anything.”

No is the easy way out for these computer says no people. Don’t let them win so easily.

See their weakness for saying yes and challenge it.

 

Make them work for their no.

Get them to give you clear and articulate reasons as to why the answer is no. Don’t let them get away with being lazy. Force factual evidence to be provided. Bring other people in to support your rationale for them to say yes. Go up the line. Speak to their boss if you have to.

Whatever you do, make them work for their no. Don’t allow them to get away with being lazy.

Don’t let the human race fail to progress because someone is not willing to use critical thinking and spend time tackling issues head-on.

 

No doesn’t mean no.

No means not right now.
No means I’m scared.
No means I don’t understand.
No means I might be threatened by you.

Try to find the true meaning of why you’re being told no. Computer says no type people are often fearful and scared of uncertainty. They look for proven ways rather than going into the shadows and searching for the unknown – also known as a new approach.

 

All is not lost.

These people can be changed. We can change their mindset. All of us need to be part of the solution to stamp out this epidemic. Pointing out the problem is not enough; we must empower each other to be part of the solution.

 

***Final Thought***

Computer says no people are tearing apart good ideas. They’re preventing innovation and they must be stopped. You have the power to force them to change and to listen. It begins and ends with each one of us not allowing this mediocrity in our communities, companies and social lives to continue on.

I declare Computer Say’s No Behaviour unacceptable.

If you want to increase your productivity and learn some more valuable life hacks, then join my private mailing list on timdenning.net

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Process And Red Tape Does Not Equal Progress.

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The corporate world has taught me the truth about process and red tape:

“Process creates people who follow it and believe they are superior for doing so. The reality is that the people who question the process are the true heroes”

Obviously, some process is needed, but the traditional way makes no sense.

Here’s how to rethink process:

 

Most processes lack critical thinking.

Ask yourself “Why are we following this process?”

Modern business requires you to think and know why you do what you do. Just because it’s the way it’s always been done, does not make it’s functional or practical. My grandpa’s horse and cart was functional back in the 1920’s and today it’s a useless pile of junk.

Critical thinking is needed with respect to “process.” Don’t become a process sook.

 

A lot of processes are kept beyond their expiry date.

The challenge is that the digital world is moving so fast. The moment you invent a process, the customer starts to do something different. That’s why a flexible process with minimal framework is ideal.

The process must move with the market and the people who use the process.

” Too much process turns people into critics that ridicule anyone who goes ‘outside of process’ “

Process can quickly become a means for people to become critical and insult each other. Going outside of the process to make business happen (which pays the bills) is not something that should be looked down upon. Instead, when this happens, we need to ask why the process wasn’t suitable.

 

Every process should regularly be reviewed.

Okay, so you have to have a process for something. It needs to be continually challenged.

Why do we have this process?
What do customers think of it?
Is it still timely?
Are there any steps in the process we can remove?

Out of date processes are destroying your business and if you are working for a company that has to follow them, you become de-motivated quickly.

There’s always another business you can work for that doesn’t have the same dumb process, so keeping people becomes hard as well thanks to too much process.

 

Rounding up things together like sheep.

You can’t round people and businesses up like a flock of sheep.

No two people are the same.
No two businesses are the same.

Unfortunately, very few business and people are the same. I rejoice that fact otherwise life would suck big time. We’d become even more bored and spend more time looking at a not so smartphone.

Embrace individuality. Let people think outside the process box. You’ll be amazed by the results. You might even build the next Facebook by doing so. When I see a black cat, with a white spot on it’s back, walk under a ladder, I shout out loud and do a dance!

Praise the heavens for the fact that the black cat is busting an ancient superstition. It’s time to sing Superstitious by Stevie wonder and get back in the groove.

 

Process kills innovation.

For the record, I hate the word innovation. It’s a buzz word that is frequently used and rarely practiced. Innovation can only thrive when we have a growth mindset. A growth mindset says that nobody is right and nobody is wrong. We’re all right in our own way and we are all continuously learning.

You can’t have an innovative culture or workplace if you suffocate it with the lethal gas that is too much process. Process turns dreamers (innovators) into deranged zombies that can’t wait to get home and get drunk.

 

Imagine if Uber followed the process.

That’s right: What if Uber did what every other taxi company did? We’d have the same broken system that doesn’t serve the customer or the driver. We’d never know what it was like to book a service, and then walk away without pulling our wallet out.

 

Frustration with “the process” is good.

You know why I love it when people get pissed off at too much process? Because it creates the seed of entrepreneurs. Entrepreneurs can’t take too much process and they end up proving people wrong by going and doing something better themselves.

If people didn’t get pissed off by out of date process, then we wouldn’t have a lot of the tech giants we have today. So again, don’t let the negativity take over. Take the negativity that is process and go and fix the problem, and charge money for it.

For those that do, I look forward to your email in the future that says thank you. Your welcome for these words I write which encourage you to stand up to BS process that makes no sense. Rebels move the world forward with their passion and they spit in the face of being suppressed by mediocrity.

We all have potential.
We can all do crazy, awesome stuff.
Don’t let too much process ruin the fun party!

 

In conclusion….

Process kills dreams.
Process kills companies.
Process kills ideas.
Process kills people and their potential.

If you want to increase your productivity and learn some more valuable life hacks, then join my private mailing list on timdenning.net

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