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

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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

3 Highly Successful Startups and the Lessons You Can Learn From Them

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To get success in life, it doesn’t always about having a university degree with top class. These days, successful businesses and entrepreneurs come from different walks of life.

When you will consider some of the successful startups of the world and entrepreneurs, who lead them, you can notice that they can also represent varied products, brands, generations, industries, and cultures.

Keeping aside diversity and backgrounds, successful entrepreneurs, businessmen and leaders have at least one thing in common, and that is the wide learning curves that they have had to undergo along the way on the road to their success.

However, the way to startup success is not always a predictable one because only 30% of seeded startups are securing some additional funding. In order to know why some of the startups thrive or some stagnate or fail, it is important to examine successful startups and different lessons to learn from them.

Here are 3 Successful Startups & Lessons That Can be Learnt From Them

1. Airbnb – Build a Product or Service That Customers Fall in love With

One of the leading American startups, Airbnb offers an online marketplace and hospitality service for people worldwide to lease or rent short-term lodging, including hostel beds, holiday cottages and apartments through its application. When the company was struggling in its initial stage in 2008, Paul Graham, a founder of the well-known incubator startup, Y Combinator, gave  advice to the CEO of Airbnb.

The CEO of Y Combinator asked Brian Chesky to focus on building a product that people fall-in-love with. Instead of building a product that people like, you should give attention to building a product that people truly love.

If most people are loving your product rather than liking it, they will recommend it to their friends and relatives. The word of mouth marketing for your product or service will play a more important role than any other marketing ways. With word of mouth marketing, it is enough to propel most businesses to new heights.

Lesson to learn: It would be a great choice to develop a product or service that people love instead of liking it. Your potential customers will indirectly help to get many new customers and expand your business.

“Ideas are commodity. Execution of them is not.” – Michael Dell

2. Uber – Always Think of Solving a Problem  

To achieve vivid success like Uber, it is a must that you think for one such service or product that gives a solution to your customers’ problem. Let’s consider Uber, a leading on-demand taxi booking app service provider, delivering on-demand taxi services to people worldwide, ensuring that they do not have to wait too long for a taxi.

Likewise, Uber has solved a problem of people that they were facing while hiring a taxi. Even it could start with just one problem and probably, your startup could deliver a holistic solution. So, whenever you get an idea, ensure that you start analyzing the idea and think about how it can solve a problem of people.

Lesson to Learn: Always think of your customers’ problems and try to solve it through your services or products. Give them a reliable solution that makes their daily life easier.

3. Atlassian – Have a Mission-driven Company Culture

Atlassian Corporation is an enterprise software company that is well-known for making business software, helping different teams of all sizes work faster and better together. A highly popular creator or products like Jiri and Confluence among others.

The company announced that they had spent $425 million to purchase another business-software company called Trello in early 2017. It is one of the biggest lessons that startups can learn from Atlassian as they have a mission-driven company culture.

Lesson to Learn: Do you know that the right culture can lead your company to success? You can realize the significant performance improvements. Build a culture, where people just love to work, expanding your business from one level to next.

“Chase the vision, not the money; the money will end up following you.” – Tony Hsieh

These are three highly successful startups and different lessons that can be learnt from them. These above-mentioned startups have a different success story, however, an organization that mainly focuses on customer-centric and mission-driven culture along with delivering a world-class product, tend to be successful.

Moreover, the companies that found solutions to customers’ problems and improve their daily lives, can lead to success. So, follow the hard-earned lessons that I mentioned above and it may help you to join the ranks of the unicorns.

What are some of your favorite & successful startups? Comment below!

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The 5 Most Common Myths Associated With Starting a Business

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We live in a world of opportunities. I can remember growing up and always dreaming of wearing a suit and tie to work. It was my absolute dream. I was maybe 14 years old at the time and my grades in school were awful and I didn’t exactly have the brightest future ahead of me. I always had these misconceptions about success and what it took to achieve it.

After almost a decade of putting my head down and investing the time, I can finally say I have a profitable business. However, this isn’t about me and my business. This is about the myths that most people are allowing to rule their lives and hold them back from their greatness.

Running a business isn’t about making millions of dollars. When you own a business you’re making the world a better place. You’re providing a solution to a problem. You’re giving others an opportunity to earn money by becoming an employee. You’re doing so much more than making money. It’s good for the economy. So don’t let these common myths about starting a business fool you.

Here are 5 common myths you need to let go of once and for all:

1. You must be intelligent and good in school

Have you ever thought that it’s a basic requirement to graduate college with a business degree? It makes sense if you look at it from a distance. You go to school. You learn how to run a business. You start a business.

The flip side? Business school doesn’t teach you how to handle failure. School will never teach you how to adapt to the market place and make split second decisions that could impact millions of people’s daily lives. School can’t teach you to be you. Although school may not hurt, it’s 100% not required to run a successful business.

“Success usually comes to those who are too busy to be looking for it.” – Henry David Thoreau

2. You need money

Almost everyone I’ve asked about starting a business has brought up the concept of needing money to get started. I’m here to tell you that you can start thousands of different businesses without money. The most practical piece of advice I can give here is to go out and sell your service, collect the money, then invest a portion or all of that money into the tools needed to complete the job.

If you’re dead set on a business model that requires a lot of cash upfront, use resources like kickstarter or angel investors to get going. You personally don’t need to have any money to start any business ever. You just have to be willing to get creative when it comes to finding the necessary money required.

3. You need experience

As entrepreneurs, we are actually innovators. A lot of the things we are doing have never been done before. We’re constantly experimenting with new ideas and that comes with a lot of failures. You gain the necessary experience needed to run a business while you run your business. You’ll never learn everything you need to know and not a single day will go by where you don’t gain more experience. So dive in, have fun, and don’t give up.

4. You need a following

With all of these mega influencers on social media, it can be challenging to believe you can do anything without a massive following. This isn’t true at all. Everyone on this planet starts with the same following. ZERO. No one knows who you are until you put yourself out there.

Sure you may not have thousands of subscribers, you may not even have ten subscribers. The point is that if you put out good content and provide a service or product that actually helps make the world a better place and solves a problem for your customer, you will win. Just keep putting in the time and energy.

“If you are not willing to risk the usual, you will have to settle for the ordinary.” – Jim Rohn

5. There’s too much competition

Everyday you wait there will be more and more competition. If it was easy everyone would be doing it right? Your product or service is the difference. If you provide a better experience you will win. If you put in the work for the long haul and ignore the short term gains, you will win. Business is a massive competition and if you’re doing it right your competitors will become your friends, mentors, and possibly customers.

This article was written specifically for you. To help you overcome some of the fears of taking that leap of becoming an entrepreneur. Don’t get me wrong, it’s challenging. However, if you truly believe in your idea, there should be nothing on this planet that can stop you from bringing it to life.

What tips have you used to start your business? Comment below!

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Startups

How I Started A Business And Defeated 5 Years Of Procrastination When It Came To Doing So.

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I finally started a business! So many people had asked me when I was going to start one again and for the last five years, I’ve procrastinated. There’s a whole bunch of statistics which I’m not going to recite that suggest that many people (including me) want to start their own business.

Before each of us leaves this world, there’s a very strong chance we will try to start our own business at least once.

I talk to so many wannabe entrepreneurs who have an idea or a passion that they want to turn into a business yet they never take action. It’s been five years since my last business venture. I know what this feeling of wanting to begin a business is like because it’s plagued my thoughts for so long.

I’ve always had that spark in my brain that says “Tim, you love this passion of yours. Go and start a business and earn a living from it!”

I have ignored this bright spark for so long. I’ve made excuses. I’ve procrastinated. I’ve told myself I wasn’t good enough.

Then finally, a couple of months ago, I said to myself “SCREW IT! I’M STARTING MY BUSINESS.”

If you’ve ever had similar thoughts, then I want you by the end of this article to take action once and for all. I am going to give you the exact steps and tips I used to defeat five years of procrastination, and finally start my coaching and social media consulting business.

Here’s what I did to start my business:

 

Make a loss if you have to in the beginning to get a free education.

The first client I brought on made a loss. At the end of the consulting, I figured out I didn’t charge enough. This is perfect because I basically bought my first client and got a free education at the same time. The lessons my first client taught me were what I used to base my entire business on.

Rather than overthink the idea of a business, I decided to experiment by actually creating one and attempting to find a business model. The truth is you don’t need to know anything to start a business. As long as you can charge money for what you’re going to do, you’ll learn the rest from experience.

 

If you have no ideas at all, then ask yourself “What can I coach people on?”

Not everyone has a business idea they want to pursue. Some people just know they want to start a business. This was the same for me. I knew I wanted a business, but I had no idea what it was going to do. Then I went to an event and the speaker said that all of us could coach somebody, on something.

So I asked myself the same question and the answer I got back was social media and life. They are the two things I can coach everybody on. They are also the two things I’m passionate about. For you, the seed to your business starts with this same question.

While you may not become a coach, knowing what you can teach people will lead to knowing what you’re passionate about and are motivated to do for free.

 

Float the idea of charging one person, for one product or service.

The way I got started once I knew what I wanted to focus my business on was to float the idea with people. One of the people I floated the idea with wanted to be a client except they wanted me to write very long blog articles for them.
While ghostwriting is a service I’m considering to add in the not too distant future, writing long blog posts about a topic I wasn’t passionate about was not something I was willing to do and I said no.

As I kept putting out into the universe what this business was (which didn’t exist yet), I had several people express interest in what I was doing. One of them turned into my first client without even realizing it. Telling people what you are thinking of doing is how you get those first few clients.

“Act as if the business exists already and you can offer your product or service right away. That’s been a key concept for me to take action and start a business again finally”

 

Your first client gives you the confidence.

Winning the first client gave me the confidence to pursue my business. Getting a client is the best way to back yourself and motivate yourself to avoid procrastination and keep going with your business venture.

“It’s harder to fail when you have a client depending on you”

 

Forget business cards and websites.

I meet so many entrepreneurs in the making who spend hours creating websites, designing logos and even printing business cards (maybe they haven’t heard of LinkedIn). None of these activities will get your business started or give you the motivation you need.

Having the skill to sell yourself and start charging for something, anything, is how you start a business. A business is only a business when it has money coming in the door.

 

Act as if you’ve been doing it for years.

I’ve never done consulting. I didn’t do any business degree. I’m no brainiac.

I read a few books and watched a few consultants that my current employer use. Then I just acted as if I had been consulting for years. In a way, I had. Blogging is kind of like consulting.

In fact, in almost any job, you consult to somebody about something. So, we can all do consulting if we choose too.

Acting as if your business has existed for years is how you give your early clients the confidence to try you out and see if your business can serve their needs.

 

Put together a rough plan on the back of an envelope.

Okay, don’t really use an envelope because that would make you a dinosaur. Jot your rough plan down on the notepad of your not so smartphone. My plan for my business was literally nine things I could teach a business about social media.

These nine things became the plan I was going to follow when I consulted to a business. It took fifteen minutes to write. I suggest having a rough plan, so you know where you are heading and what the business will look like. Please don’t overthink the plan or you’ll never get started!

 

Ask yourself, “What’s the worst that can happen?”

This question will help you mitigate the risks that are buzzing around in your head and preventing you from starting a business. When I asked this question during the startup of my business a few months back, I realized that the worst that could happen is I disappoint a few clients.

By asking this question, you figure out that there are no life-threatening consequences to giving a business a go.

 

Ask yourself, “What would this look like if it were insanely easy?”

The temptation with a new business idea is to make it complex and overthink it. This is what so many wannabe entrepreneurs do and it’s a disaster. Asking yourself “What would this look like if it were easy?” helps you to chunk down in your head what you want to do.

Making something easy by default makes it doable to get started. If something is really easy, then it’s pretty hard not to give it a go. With my new business, easy looked like this:

– No website
– One service
– One customer
– Using my existing services like Zoom to enable the business
– Only doing it part time for one hour a week

With these boundaries in place, there was no way I was not going to follow through. I knew that if I wouldn’t do one hour a week of my new business, then I’d never do it seriously, or even at all.

Making my business easy was the first test to see if I could ever do the run-my-own-business gig again. I use making things easy as my BS test for any new idea. Try it for yourself.

 

Add your business into conversations you have with everybody.

I get messages on social media and emails all the time asking how I’m doing and what I’m working on. In every conversation during the early weeks of my business, I added in one phrase: “I’ve started a business.”

I didn’t say what it was. It was only natural people would ask, and I’d politely answer them. By using this approach, you’re not selling and you get to test your idea with real people who could become customers. Some of these conversations ended up in them becoming clients.

 

Always do it as a side hustle to start with.

The reason we procrastinate on our business ideas is that we have heaps of fear about what we’re going to do. A lot of this fear comes from the misconception that you need to quit your job or primary income source to start. You don’t.

Giving up your primary income source is the worst thing you can do. You don’t even know if your business will work or whether you’ll like it. Plus 90% of businesses fail in the first five years. That’s why I committed to only one hour per week to put myself to the entrepreneur test yet again.

Starting your business as a side hustle lets you find your niche and learn what your business will become. In the early days, your business will change lots of times, so you don’t want to bet your life savings on it until you are solid in your approach.

Again, by making my business a side hustle to begin with, I removed the fear, gave myself room to explore and allowed myself to fail. I’d suggest this approach for anyone wanting to start a business.

It’s so much easier this way which means your chances of success are higher. The worst case is you end up with a part-time business which gives you a second income. That’s not a bad result either.

So why can’t you start a business and stop procrastinating again?

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

3 Questions to Ask Yourself for a Winning Business

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“My pleasure”. We’ve all heard this before right? It is probably not implemented more than in the culture at Chik-Fil-A. I can’t tell you how many times I go in there and like clockwork they respond to every request with my pleasure. This is something that, not only separates them from their competition but continues to make them a destination for people to seek out when they are hungry.

This attitude that every employee from the cook to the owner carries is something that we should all learn from and understand the importance of in our daily interactions with people, prospects, and customers.  

Are you conditioning yourself everyday to be in a position of service for your family, friends, clients, and anyone that you come into contact with? Too many times I see people not focused and aware of the potential opportunities walking around them every day. Do you want to know why they are missing them? It is because their attitude sucks and isn’t one ready to be of service.   

1. Are You Approachable?   

Are you presenting yourself to everyone with a smile? This is a simple tactic you can implement right now that will open up more conversation opportunities for you and will have others asking how your day is going and the most common question or response from others will be, what has you smiling today?  Nature guards humans and to break down the barriers they have up, you have to be someone they feel is there to help them or be of service. Smiling first is key to opening them up and start breaking down their defenses.  

“To give real service you must add something which cannot be bought or measured with money, and that is sincerity and integrity” – Douglas Adams

2. Are You A Good Listener?

After you create the introduction and start the dialogue with your customer or prospect it is essential to be quiet and listen to them.They will begin to tell you what, how, and why they are looking for help and give you the opportunity to show them how your service will solve their problems and needs. Too many times I see salespeople or business individuals talk right through their prospect or customer and in essence, talk themselves right out of a sale.  

Listening is crucial to being in the customer service business. I mean how you can indeed solve a problem for someone if you first refuse to listen to them and find out their problem/problems in the first place?  

“Service to others is the rent you pay for your room here on earth” – Muhammad Ali

3. Are You An Action Taker?  

The best of the best take action to service their customers, clients, or others for that matter. Talking points are great but it’s the activity and the action steps that people are looking for and out of you. If you really want to create an environment of service, this is non-negotiable. Don’t just communicate with your prospects how you are going to help them or service them, SHOW them through your commitments, actions, and abilities to solve their problems. This is a major part of the attitude of service framework that is necessary to separate you from the all the rest.   

You must first create an environment of service in your own daily habits everyday to create the atmosphere of service you want your colleagues, clients, and general surroundings to see from you as well. Your attitude is the first thing you have to check to get this mindset in alignment with your habits.  

Create a daily smile that others find welcoming.  Listen to everything going on around you so that you are sharp and aware of your surroundings, and then attack every day with actions of solving problems and elevating yourself as the solution others seek out when they need a product or service to better their situation and business.

What are some things you do that show your attitude of service? Comment Below!

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Life

5 Simple Things to Do Right Now if You Feel Stuck in Life

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As a success-blogger, I normally have a great deal of clarity about what I need to be working on. I’m also really driven by a sense of purpose in helping others get unstuck and make an impact in their lives. There aren’t many times that I find myself at a loss for what to do next.

Nonetheless, I recently hit a dry spell. I felt entirely stuck and a little burnt out. It felt like I was in a pit, emotionally unempowered and unable to move forward. Due to this, I decided to sit down and write out a list of ways that I could get myself moving and build up some momentum again. (more…)

Aaron Force is a blogger from Seattle, Washington. He writes to help others live their most powerful life by allowing them to find their purpose, get unstuck, and impact the world. He can be found at www.aaronforce.net or at https://www.facebook.com/aforce01/.

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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

3 Highly Successful Startups and the Lessons You Can Learn From Them

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To get success in life, it doesn’t always about having a university degree with top class. These days, successful businesses and entrepreneurs come from different walks of life.

When you will consider some of the successful startups of the world and entrepreneurs, who lead them, you can notice that they can also represent varied products, brands, generations, industries, and cultures.

Keeping aside diversity and backgrounds, successful entrepreneurs, businessmen and leaders have at least one thing in common, and that is the wide learning curves that they have had to undergo along the way on the road to their success.

However, the way to startup success is not always a predictable one because only 30% of seeded startups are securing some additional funding. In order to know why some of the startups thrive or some stagnate or fail, it is important to examine successful startups and different lessons to learn from them.

Here are 3 Successful Startups & Lessons That Can be Learnt From Them

1. Airbnb – Build a Product or Service That Customers Fall in love With

One of the leading American startups, Airbnb offers an online marketplace and hospitality service for people worldwide to lease or rent short-term lodging, including hostel beds, holiday cottages and apartments through its application. When the company was struggling in its initial stage in 2008, Paul Graham, a founder of the well-known incubator startup, Y Combinator, gave  advice to the CEO of Airbnb.

The CEO of Y Combinator asked Brian Chesky to focus on building a product that people fall-in-love with. Instead of building a product that people like, you should give attention to building a product that people truly love.

If most people are loving your product rather than liking it, they will recommend it to their friends and relatives. The word of mouth marketing for your product or service will play a more important role than any other marketing ways. With word of mouth marketing, it is enough to propel most businesses to new heights.

Lesson to learn: It would be a great choice to develop a product or service that people love instead of liking it. Your potential customers will indirectly help to get many new customers and expand your business.

“Ideas are commodity. Execution of them is not.” – Michael Dell

2. Uber – Always Think of Solving a Problem  

To achieve vivid success like Uber, it is a must that you think for one such service or product that gives a solution to your customers’ problem. Let’s consider Uber, a leading on-demand taxi booking app service provider, delivering on-demand taxi services to people worldwide, ensuring that they do not have to wait too long for a taxi.

Likewise, Uber has solved a problem of people that they were facing while hiring a taxi. Even it could start with just one problem and probably, your startup could deliver a holistic solution. So, whenever you get an idea, ensure that you start analyzing the idea and think about how it can solve a problem of people.

Lesson to Learn: Always think of your customers’ problems and try to solve it through your services or products. Give them a reliable solution that makes their daily life easier.

3. Atlassian – Have a Mission-driven Company Culture

Atlassian Corporation is an enterprise software company that is well-known for making business software, helping different teams of all sizes work faster and better together. A highly popular creator or products like Jiri and Confluence among others.

The company announced that they had spent $425 million to purchase another business-software company called Trello in early 2017. It is one of the biggest lessons that startups can learn from Atlassian as they have a mission-driven company culture.

Lesson to Learn: Do you know that the right culture can lead your company to success? You can realize the significant performance improvements. Build a culture, where people just love to work, expanding your business from one level to next.

“Chase the vision, not the money; the money will end up following you.” – Tony Hsieh

These are three highly successful startups and different lessons that can be learnt from them. These above-mentioned startups have a different success story, however, an organization that mainly focuses on customer-centric and mission-driven culture along with delivering a world-class product, tend to be successful.

Moreover, the companies that found solutions to customers’ problems and improve their daily lives, can lead to success. So, follow the hard-earned lessons that I mentioned above and it may help you to join the ranks of the unicorns.

What are some of your favorite & successful startups? Comment below!

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The 5 Most Common Myths Associated With Starting a Business

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We live in a world of opportunities. I can remember growing up and always dreaming of wearing a suit and tie to work. It was my absolute dream. I was maybe 14 years old at the time and my grades in school were awful and I didn’t exactly have the brightest future ahead of me. I always had these misconceptions about success and what it took to achieve it.

After almost a decade of putting my head down and investing the time, I can finally say I have a profitable business. However, this isn’t about me and my business. This is about the myths that most people are allowing to rule their lives and hold them back from their greatness.

Running a business isn’t about making millions of dollars. When you own a business you’re making the world a better place. You’re providing a solution to a problem. You’re giving others an opportunity to earn money by becoming an employee. You’re doing so much more than making money. It’s good for the economy. So don’t let these common myths about starting a business fool you.

Here are 5 common myths you need to let go of once and for all:

1. You must be intelligent and good in school

Have you ever thought that it’s a basic requirement to graduate college with a business degree? It makes sense if you look at it from a distance. You go to school. You learn how to run a business. You start a business.

The flip side? Business school doesn’t teach you how to handle failure. School will never teach you how to adapt to the market place and make split second decisions that could impact millions of people’s daily lives. School can’t teach you to be you. Although school may not hurt, it’s 100% not required to run a successful business.

“Success usually comes to those who are too busy to be looking for it.” – Henry David Thoreau

2. You need money

Almost everyone I’ve asked about starting a business has brought up the concept of needing money to get started. I’m here to tell you that you can start thousands of different businesses without money. The most practical piece of advice I can give here is to go out and sell your service, collect the money, then invest a portion or all of that money into the tools needed to complete the job.

If you’re dead set on a business model that requires a lot of cash upfront, use resources like kickstarter or angel investors to get going. You personally don’t need to have any money to start any business ever. You just have to be willing to get creative when it comes to finding the necessary money required.

3. You need experience

As entrepreneurs, we are actually innovators. A lot of the things we are doing have never been done before. We’re constantly experimenting with new ideas and that comes with a lot of failures. You gain the necessary experience needed to run a business while you run your business. You’ll never learn everything you need to know and not a single day will go by where you don’t gain more experience. So dive in, have fun, and don’t give up.

4. You need a following

With all of these mega influencers on social media, it can be challenging to believe you can do anything without a massive following. This isn’t true at all. Everyone on this planet starts with the same following. ZERO. No one knows who you are until you put yourself out there.

Sure you may not have thousands of subscribers, you may not even have ten subscribers. The point is that if you put out good content and provide a service or product that actually helps make the world a better place and solves a problem for your customer, you will win. Just keep putting in the time and energy.

“If you are not willing to risk the usual, you will have to settle for the ordinary.” – Jim Rohn

5. There’s too much competition

Everyday you wait there will be more and more competition. If it was easy everyone would be doing it right? Your product or service is the difference. If you provide a better experience you will win. If you put in the work for the long haul and ignore the short term gains, you will win. Business is a massive competition and if you’re doing it right your competitors will become your friends, mentors, and possibly customers.

This article was written specifically for you. To help you overcome some of the fears of taking that leap of becoming an entrepreneur. Don’t get me wrong, it’s challenging. However, if you truly believe in your idea, there should be nothing on this planet that can stop you from bringing it to life.

What tips have you used to start your business? Comment below!

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Startups

How I Started A Business And Defeated 5 Years Of Procrastination When It Came To Doing So.

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I finally started a business! So many people had asked me when I was going to start one again and for the last five years, I’ve procrastinated. There’s a whole bunch of statistics which I’m not going to recite that suggest that many people (including me) want to start their own business.

Before each of us leaves this world, there’s a very strong chance we will try to start our own business at least once.

I talk to so many wannabe entrepreneurs who have an idea or a passion that they want to turn into a business yet they never take action. It’s been five years since my last business venture. I know what this feeling of wanting to begin a business is like because it’s plagued my thoughts for so long.

I’ve always had that spark in my brain that says “Tim, you love this passion of yours. Go and start a business and earn a living from it!”

I have ignored this bright spark for so long. I’ve made excuses. I’ve procrastinated. I’ve told myself I wasn’t good enough.

Then finally, a couple of months ago, I said to myself “SCREW IT! I’M STARTING MY BUSINESS.”

If you’ve ever had similar thoughts, then I want you by the end of this article to take action once and for all. I am going to give you the exact steps and tips I used to defeat five years of procrastination, and finally start my coaching and social media consulting business.

Here’s what I did to start my business:

 

Make a loss if you have to in the beginning to get a free education.

The first client I brought on made a loss. At the end of the consulting, I figured out I didn’t charge enough. This is perfect because I basically bought my first client and got a free education at the same time. The lessons my first client taught me were what I used to base my entire business on.

Rather than overthink the idea of a business, I decided to experiment by actually creating one and attempting to find a business model. The truth is you don’t need to know anything to start a business. As long as you can charge money for what you’re going to do, you’ll learn the rest from experience.

 

If you have no ideas at all, then ask yourself “What can I coach people on?”

Not everyone has a business idea they want to pursue. Some people just know they want to start a business. This was the same for me. I knew I wanted a business, but I had no idea what it was going to do. Then I went to an event and the speaker said that all of us could coach somebody, on something.

So I asked myself the same question and the answer I got back was social media and life. They are the two things I can coach everybody on. They are also the two things I’m passionate about. For you, the seed to your business starts with this same question.

While you may not become a coach, knowing what you can teach people will lead to knowing what you’re passionate about and are motivated to do for free.

 

Float the idea of charging one person, for one product or service.

The way I got started once I knew what I wanted to focus my business on was to float the idea with people. One of the people I floated the idea with wanted to be a client except they wanted me to write very long blog articles for them.
While ghostwriting is a service I’m considering to add in the not too distant future, writing long blog posts about a topic I wasn’t passionate about was not something I was willing to do and I said no.

As I kept putting out into the universe what this business was (which didn’t exist yet), I had several people express interest in what I was doing. One of them turned into my first client without even realizing it. Telling people what you are thinking of doing is how you get those first few clients.

“Act as if the business exists already and you can offer your product or service right away. That’s been a key concept for me to take action and start a business again finally”

 

Your first client gives you the confidence.

Winning the first client gave me the confidence to pursue my business. Getting a client is the best way to back yourself and motivate yourself to avoid procrastination and keep going with your business venture.

“It’s harder to fail when you have a client depending on you”

 

Forget business cards and websites.

I meet so many entrepreneurs in the making who spend hours creating websites, designing logos and even printing business cards (maybe they haven’t heard of LinkedIn). None of these activities will get your business started or give you the motivation you need.

Having the skill to sell yourself and start charging for something, anything, is how you start a business. A business is only a business when it has money coming in the door.

 

Act as if you’ve been doing it for years.

I’ve never done consulting. I didn’t do any business degree. I’m no brainiac.

I read a few books and watched a few consultants that my current employer use. Then I just acted as if I had been consulting for years. In a way, I had. Blogging is kind of like consulting.

In fact, in almost any job, you consult to somebody about something. So, we can all do consulting if we choose too.

Acting as if your business has existed for years is how you give your early clients the confidence to try you out and see if your business can serve their needs.

 

Put together a rough plan on the back of an envelope.

Okay, don’t really use an envelope because that would make you a dinosaur. Jot your rough plan down on the notepad of your not so smartphone. My plan for my business was literally nine things I could teach a business about social media.

These nine things became the plan I was going to follow when I consulted to a business. It took fifteen minutes to write. I suggest having a rough plan, so you know where you are heading and what the business will look like. Please don’t overthink the plan or you’ll never get started!

 

Ask yourself, “What’s the worst that can happen?”

This question will help you mitigate the risks that are buzzing around in your head and preventing you from starting a business. When I asked this question during the startup of my business a few months back, I realized that the worst that could happen is I disappoint a few clients.

By asking this question, you figure out that there are no life-threatening consequences to giving a business a go.

 

Ask yourself, “What would this look like if it were insanely easy?”

The temptation with a new business idea is to make it complex and overthink it. This is what so many wannabe entrepreneurs do and it’s a disaster. Asking yourself “What would this look like if it were easy?” helps you to chunk down in your head what you want to do.

Making something easy by default makes it doable to get started. If something is really easy, then it’s pretty hard not to give it a go. With my new business, easy looked like this:

– No website
– One service
– One customer
– Using my existing services like Zoom to enable the business
– Only doing it part time for one hour a week

With these boundaries in place, there was no way I was not going to follow through. I knew that if I wouldn’t do one hour a week of my new business, then I’d never do it seriously, or even at all.

Making my business easy was the first test to see if I could ever do the run-my-own-business gig again. I use making things easy as my BS test for any new idea. Try it for yourself.

 

Add your business into conversations you have with everybody.

I get messages on social media and emails all the time asking how I’m doing and what I’m working on. In every conversation during the early weeks of my business, I added in one phrase: “I’ve started a business.”

I didn’t say what it was. It was only natural people would ask, and I’d politely answer them. By using this approach, you’re not selling and you get to test your idea with real people who could become customers. Some of these conversations ended up in them becoming clients.

 

Always do it as a side hustle to start with.

The reason we procrastinate on our business ideas is that we have heaps of fear about what we’re going to do. A lot of this fear comes from the misconception that you need to quit your job or primary income source to start. You don’t.

Giving up your primary income source is the worst thing you can do. You don’t even know if your business will work or whether you’ll like it. Plus 90% of businesses fail in the first five years. That’s why I committed to only one hour per week to put myself to the entrepreneur test yet again.

Starting your business as a side hustle lets you find your niche and learn what your business will become. In the early days, your business will change lots of times, so you don’t want to bet your life savings on it until you are solid in your approach.

Again, by making my business a side hustle to begin with, I removed the fear, gave myself room to explore and allowed myself to fail. I’d suggest this approach for anyone wanting to start a business.

It’s so much easier this way which means your chances of success are higher. The worst case is you end up with a part-time business which gives you a second income. That’s not a bad result either.

So why can’t you start a business and stop procrastinating again?

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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3 Questions to Ask Yourself for a Winning Business

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“My pleasure”. We’ve all heard this before right? It is probably not implemented more than in the culture at Chik-Fil-A. I can’t tell you how many times I go in there and like clockwork they respond to every request with my pleasure. This is something that, not only separates them from their competition but continues to make them a destination for people to seek out when they are hungry.

This attitude that every employee from the cook to the owner carries is something that we should all learn from and understand the importance of in our daily interactions with people, prospects, and customers.  

Are you conditioning yourself everyday to be in a position of service for your family, friends, clients, and anyone that you come into contact with? Too many times I see people not focused and aware of the potential opportunities walking around them every day. Do you want to know why they are missing them? It is because their attitude sucks and isn’t one ready to be of service.   

1. Are You Approachable?   

Are you presenting yourself to everyone with a smile? This is a simple tactic you can implement right now that will open up more conversation opportunities for you and will have others asking how your day is going and the most common question or response from others will be, what has you smiling today?  Nature guards humans and to break down the barriers they have up, you have to be someone they feel is there to help them or be of service. Smiling first is key to opening them up and start breaking down their defenses.  

“To give real service you must add something which cannot be bought or measured with money, and that is sincerity and integrity” – Douglas Adams

2. Are You A Good Listener?

After you create the introduction and start the dialogue with your customer or prospect it is essential to be quiet and listen to them.They will begin to tell you what, how, and why they are looking for help and give you the opportunity to show them how your service will solve their problems and needs. Too many times I see salespeople or business individuals talk right through their prospect or customer and in essence, talk themselves right out of a sale.  

Listening is crucial to being in the customer service business. I mean how you can indeed solve a problem for someone if you first refuse to listen to them and find out their problem/problems in the first place?  

“Service to others is the rent you pay for your room here on earth” – Muhammad Ali

3. Are You An Action Taker?  

The best of the best take action to service their customers, clients, or others for that matter. Talking points are great but it’s the activity and the action steps that people are looking for and out of you. If you really want to create an environment of service, this is non-negotiable. Don’t just communicate with your prospects how you are going to help them or service them, SHOW them through your commitments, actions, and abilities to solve their problems. This is a major part of the attitude of service framework that is necessary to separate you from the all the rest.   

You must first create an environment of service in your own daily habits everyday to create the atmosphere of service you want your colleagues, clients, and general surroundings to see from you as well. Your attitude is the first thing you have to check to get this mindset in alignment with your habits.  

Create a daily smile that others find welcoming.  Listen to everything going on around you so that you are sharp and aware of your surroundings, and then attack every day with actions of solving problems and elevating yourself as the solution others seek out when they need a product or service to better their situation and business.

What are some things you do that show your attitude of service? Comment Below!

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