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6 Tips To Create A Great Design For Your Startup

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In the last few years, I have seen a host of sites appear that help you with design for your business or personal brand. Seeing as I know nothing about the subject of design, I thought I would interview the founder of the very popular DesignCrowd business, Alec Lynch, to educate us all. Alec started the business because he saw a problem with businesses buying designs from traditional methods. He viewed the process as slow, expensive and even risky. The risk he saw was that it could take a few months and then after all that you could hate what you ended up receiving from the designer.

Talented designers struggled to break into the design industry. In Australia, for example, there are 20,000 designers employed full time but around 60,0000 have graduated from design courses and don’t have employment. The numbers are similar in other developed economies. DesignCrowd attempts to fix the traditional problems of the industry by allowing customers to get designs faster (first designs by the morning), offering better value for money, allowing more creative designs (with over 400,000 designers), allowing designers to compete on creativity as opposed to cost, and allowing more choice with an average of 60-100 designs for your project.

DesignCrowd was launched in January 2008 out of Alec’s mums garage in a design industry that now is now more than $50 billion dollars. The first 2 years of the company were funded my credit cards and loans from Alec’s friends and family, in 2009 they raised $300k AUD in angel investment and grew the business fourteen-fold over the next two years. In 2011, they raised a Series A venture capital round of $3 million with Starfish Ventures.

Since then they have grown the team from three people to thirty-five people. In 2013, they raised a Series A1 again from Starfish Ventures and then in 2015 they raised a Series B led by Airtree Ventures for a further $6 million AUD. Their current revenue run rate is $20 million per year, and more than 75% of their customers are outside of Australia.

“The main thing that separates a wannapreneur from an entrepreneur is action. Don’t get too lost in books and start your business on the side or buy a domain name, but just take action”

Similar to Blue Dot, who we interviewed earlier, Alec and his team approached dozens of venture capital firms before they found the right one. Some of these approaches were relationship building, and others were actual pitches. In order for them to raise a round of funding it typically took 3-12 months to put a deal together. Alec says, “the more firms you approach, the more chance you will have of being successful in funding your startup. If you end up speaking to a large number of firms and you don’t get much interest, it probably means you need to look at your pitch, the product or the even your team.”

Having multiple, interested investors through this process can also assist in creating that magical, competitive tension that works in your favour.

Time Square and Virgin have used the platform, and there have been quirky projects like a tattoo design that says who’s your momma and a snowboard design – the options are limitless. Expect to see DesignCrowd expanding further in the USA and UK as well as other geographies.

 

The secret sauce of online marketplaces

One of the hardest challenges to overcome in any marketplace business is getting both sides of the market onto your platform. DesignCrowd took the logical approach and started by getting the designers first. They did this by running a crowdsourced contest and offering some money to have their own logo designed. This contest was promoted at design colleges and universities to attract designers to the marketplace.

As they acquired customers and projects were put up on the site, more designers came to the site and started telling each other in a very organic way. The other way they have increased both sides of the marketplace is to make some small acquisitions of websites and design communities, which has helped inorganically, grow the bottom line.

Design Crowd Office Sydney

DesignCrowd Office Sydney

Many marketplaces have a natural “viral loop.” When a customer posts a project and requests a design with an offer of money, this creates content. Essentially this is a job listing that Google can now index, and it can be shared with other designers.

As designers respond by uploading designs, once the project completes each of those designs become public on their own page linking to the overall project and the designer who created them. This also creates content for Google and bloggers which helps attract designers and new customers.

 
Below are the six tips that Alec Lynch gave me for creating a great design for your startup.

 

1. Attract a good designer

To attract a good designer to your project you need to write a good brief, that’s not too long and not too short. Really short briefs signal to designers that you don’t really care or you might not be clear what you want. If your brief is too long, it can imply that your work is too difficult and is going to take a designer too long. In a marketplace context, a designer could be more inclined to gravitate towards a project that is easier. If you have lots of ideas about your design, you need to find the essence and the direction you want to go in a simplified way. Prioritise the parts in the design that are most important to you.

 

2. Pay your designer a fair price

You should be offering an amount of money for your design that your startup is comfortable paying and think is good value. Ideally you want to be offering more than the average amount of money in the marketplace, and then you will naturally attract the best designers that are on the site. It’s also worth handpicking designers from the directory that’s available.

On a platform like DesignCrowd, you can offer small participation payments to top designers that come off your budget, to encourage them to work on your project. Designers typically put more effort into these projects and prioritise them over others, which can help you get the best design.

 

3. Consider using the same designer again for future work

Sites like DesignCrowd allow you to work one to one so once you find a designer you like, this can be an easy way to move forward without having to run contests in the future. Around 20% of projects on DesignCrowd are follow-up projects. Even if the designer you used two years ago is not active, there is usually a 95% chance that they are still available on the site, so you can reach out to them again.

This was something that I found very comforting to hear. In the real world, you would normally only have a relationship with one designer that could be risky for your business if they become busy or go full time with another client. With a marketplace, you can go to other designers quite easily and basically have an unlimited design team. All the designs are also submitted to the site with industry-standard source files so that designs can be easily manipulated by other designers if need be.

 

4. Get all the elements of your design right

You want a design that is effective and helps you achieve your business goals. If these goals are related to growing revenue, then your design needs to match those goals. Brand awareness, brand loyalty and brand association are all things that you should aim for. In terms of colors, if you look at the top 100 brands in the world through interbrand, the most popular color is blue and then followed by red. While you don’t have to use these colors, it’s worth knowing what the best use.

If it’s a website your designing, then you want a design that helps convert traffic into sales. Understand the different elements of your website like your calls to action, your design / layout, your colors and your copy and make sure they are all based on converting traffic. All these elements need to be continually tested and improved in order to get the best result.

Collage of designs made on Design Crowd

Collage of designs made on DesignCrowd

David Ogilvy Quote “Never stop testing and your advertising will never stop improving”

 

5. Use all the tools of a marketplace

On DesignCrowd, you have access to a directory of designers where you can go and look at their portfolio. There is a polling tool that allows you to poll your customers, friend’s family and employees about what they think of your design. For those of you who are looking to hide your projects from Google and competitors, there is also a function that allows you to do this. In terms of social media, make sure you use it throughout your design phase to gather opinions on what you’re doing and see if you are on the right track.

 

6. Avoid common design errors

Don’t make your design too complicated or have too much detail. If you’re getting a website design, don’t have too many things on the page and keep it simple for the user. You should try not to make the mistake of having a design that is effective to you or meaningful to you, rather than what will resonate more with your target audience. To uncover what will work, you can try testing your brand or design using Google Adwords to see what get’s the best outcome. You could also look at trying different domain names at the same time.

 

Final Tip

“No matter how good your idea is there is a fairly probable chance that someone else in the world has that idea. It may be the case that no one else has acted on that idea, but there is always a chance that they will if it’s a good idea. That said, you will always have competitors”

Alec Lynch from Design Crowd talks with Tim Denning about great designs

Alec Lynch founder of DesignCrowd

If you are working on a design for your startup check out DesignCrowd for some tools that will help you stand out from the rest.

Tim is best known as a long-time contributor on Addicted2Success. Tim's content has been shared hundreds of thousands of times and he has written multiple viral posts all around success, personal development, motivation, and entrepreneurship. During the day Tim works with the most iconic tech companies in the world, as an adviser, to assist them in expanding into Australia. By night, Tim coaches his students on the principles of personal development and the fundamentals of entrepreneurship. You can connect with Tim through his website www.timdenning.net or through his Facebook.

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Startups

The 5 Most Common Myths Associated With Starting a Business

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business myths

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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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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successful business

“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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5 Simple Strategies for When You’ve Made a Business Mistake

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business mistakes

Anyone in business with years of experience will likely be able to cite a variety of past mistakes, whether they involve missing a meeting, not delivering content by a deadline or upsetting a client. The reality is, it’s impossible to be error-free in the demanding world of business, where deadlines and individual client preferences are numerous.

Ideally, businesses have a structure in place that helps prevent mistakes before they occur, even though they may still happen. As a result, businesses should realize that a mistake shouldn’t be a deal-breaker. A mistake can present an opportunity to solidify a client relationship, by giving you a chance to make up for it and more.

Here are five simple strategies to address mistakes in business, with integrity and honesty:

1. Provide Clients With Transparency

Businesses that make a mistake and refuse to tell a client about it until questioned will find themselves at the receiving end of an understandably irate client. Giving clients a heads-up shows integrity and a steadfast commitment to making it right, especially if they are not yet aware of the issue.

Ideally, you can address the issue with the client in person, or at least by phone. Showing an apologetic tone in an email is difficult. When apologizing, don’t beat around the bush. Directly clarify the mistake, why it happened and the resolution in progress. By telling a customer or client about a mistake before they realize it on their own, you enforce a willingness to take responsibility and right wrongs.

2. Offer Reassurance on Resolving the Issue

Being transparent about a business mistake is just the first step. It’s equally important to clarify with a client how you will resolve the issue. Since the last thing anyone wants is for the partnership to dissolve with a refund or termination of a contract, the best route is to offer a clear plan on how the project’s results will improve. You should also clarify what steps have been implemented to ensure the mistake does not occur again.

For example, if a PR agency sends out a press release for a client with erroneous content, it can immediately notify the client of the issue, while ensuring them that this round of pitching and its corrective follow-up round will be free of charge. This shows a business taking responsibility for its mistakes, while also offering a solid plan as to how it can resolve the issue without taking more resources or money from the client.

“A lack of transparency results in distrust and a deep sense of insecurity.” – Dalai Lama

3. Ask for Their Resolution Idea

After providing your own reassurance and strategy to amend the mistake, you should ask the client if there’s anything else you can do. If you proposed a firm plan for correcting the issue, then it’s likely they will simply say no — though the question provides room to make things right if they are not satisfied with your proposal.

If you intend on providing a discount due to your mistake, it’s better to ask the customer for their idea of a resolution before offering a discount, as their ideal discount may be less than what you initially intended on proposing. By accepting their idea for a resolution, the business is essentially admitting all wrongdoing while increasing the confidence of the client.

Additionally, for whatever the customer proposes as a solution, it’s a good idea to increase their desire slightly. For example, if a customer feels that a 10 percent discount is fair, counter with something like, “10 percent is very fair, and I’m very apologetic for our mistake. As a result, I will provide you with 15 percent off as a thank you for your understanding.”

4. Value the Power of Word-of-Mouth

Most clients are knowledgeable enough to know that mistakes happen. Their evaluation of a business incorporates how it responds to its errors. Especially in the digital age, reviews of a business are prevalent on social media and various review platforms.

A business that goes above and beyond to amend its mistake, by informing the customer of its error and offering a fair compensation, is likelier to be praised in reviews as taking charge of mistakes. Combined with other reviews from clients who ideally did not experience mistakes, a business will have an excellent review presence online.

“Free publicity and word of mouth is probably the best and cheapest form of advertising. Learn to use it to your advantage.” – Richard Branson

5. Don’t Stress That It Wasn’t Purposeful

If a client or consumer has spent time and money on your services, then they likely already know your mistake was just that, not some intentional sabotage. As a result, continually stressing that your mistake wasn’t on purpose is a waste of time, especially when you can be spending the dialogue on ideas for resolution and compensation. Taking the lead on amending a mistake is significantly more important than declaring its intent or lack thereof.

Mistakes happen in business, quite often. Eliminating these mistakes is ideal, but when they do occur, it’s possible for a business to salvage a client relationship with transparency, reassurance and a viable resolution.

How do you recover from a business mistake? Comment below!

Image courtesy of Twenty20.com

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27 C.T. Fletcher Quotes to Get You Obsessed!

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CT Fletcher Quotes
Image Credit | Boxrox.com

Bodybuilder & popular motivator, CT Fletcher is probably one of the most inspiring people on Youtube.  After getting through an open heart surgery, CT was told that he would never lift weights again. He decided to take on the challenge and has become one of the most recognized bodybuilders in the world. Winning several championships and building a huge online following. After years of hard work & obsession, CT Fletcher is definitely someone you should pay attention too. (more…)

Joe Kleckner has a passion for all things motivation & self-development.  From blogs such as Addicted2Success, to the videos of Eric Thomas and Elliott Hulse, to the lectures of legends such as Tony Robbins.  This passion has landed him an internship with Addicted2Success. Follow him on Twitter & Snapchat as he journeys towards greatness, one day at a time.

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The 5 Most Common Myths Associated With Starting a Business

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business myths

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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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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5 Simple Strategies for When You’ve Made a Business Mistake

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business mistakes

Anyone in business with years of experience will likely be able to cite a variety of past mistakes, whether they involve missing a meeting, not delivering content by a deadline or upsetting a client. The reality is, it’s impossible to be error-free in the demanding world of business, where deadlines and individual client preferences are numerous.

Ideally, businesses have a structure in place that helps prevent mistakes before they occur, even though they may still happen. As a result, businesses should realize that a mistake shouldn’t be a deal-breaker. A mistake can present an opportunity to solidify a client relationship, by giving you a chance to make up for it and more.

Here are five simple strategies to address mistakes in business, with integrity and honesty:

1. Provide Clients With Transparency

Businesses that make a mistake and refuse to tell a client about it until questioned will find themselves at the receiving end of an understandably irate client. Giving clients a heads-up shows integrity and a steadfast commitment to making it right, especially if they are not yet aware of the issue.

Ideally, you can address the issue with the client in person, or at least by phone. Showing an apologetic tone in an email is difficult. When apologizing, don’t beat around the bush. Directly clarify the mistake, why it happened and the resolution in progress. By telling a customer or client about a mistake before they realize it on their own, you enforce a willingness to take responsibility and right wrongs.

2. Offer Reassurance on Resolving the Issue

Being transparent about a business mistake is just the first step. It’s equally important to clarify with a client how you will resolve the issue. Since the last thing anyone wants is for the partnership to dissolve with a refund or termination of a contract, the best route is to offer a clear plan on how the project’s results will improve. You should also clarify what steps have been implemented to ensure the mistake does not occur again.

For example, if a PR agency sends out a press release for a client with erroneous content, it can immediately notify the client of the issue, while ensuring them that this round of pitching and its corrective follow-up round will be free of charge. This shows a business taking responsibility for its mistakes, while also offering a solid plan as to how it can resolve the issue without taking more resources or money from the client.

“A lack of transparency results in distrust and a deep sense of insecurity.” – Dalai Lama

3. Ask for Their Resolution Idea

After providing your own reassurance and strategy to amend the mistake, you should ask the client if there’s anything else you can do. If you proposed a firm plan for correcting the issue, then it’s likely they will simply say no — though the question provides room to make things right if they are not satisfied with your proposal.

If you intend on providing a discount due to your mistake, it’s better to ask the customer for their idea of a resolution before offering a discount, as their ideal discount may be less than what you initially intended on proposing. By accepting their idea for a resolution, the business is essentially admitting all wrongdoing while increasing the confidence of the client.

Additionally, for whatever the customer proposes as a solution, it’s a good idea to increase their desire slightly. For example, if a customer feels that a 10 percent discount is fair, counter with something like, “10 percent is very fair, and I’m very apologetic for our mistake. As a result, I will provide you with 15 percent off as a thank you for your understanding.”

4. Value the Power of Word-of-Mouth

Most clients are knowledgeable enough to know that mistakes happen. Their evaluation of a business incorporates how it responds to its errors. Especially in the digital age, reviews of a business are prevalent on social media and various review platforms.

A business that goes above and beyond to amend its mistake, by informing the customer of its error and offering a fair compensation, is likelier to be praised in reviews as taking charge of mistakes. Combined with other reviews from clients who ideally did not experience mistakes, a business will have an excellent review presence online.

“Free publicity and word of mouth is probably the best and cheapest form of advertising. Learn to use it to your advantage.” – Richard Branson

5. Don’t Stress That It Wasn’t Purposeful

If a client or consumer has spent time and money on your services, then they likely already know your mistake was just that, not some intentional sabotage. As a result, continually stressing that your mistake wasn’t on purpose is a waste of time, especially when you can be spending the dialogue on ideas for resolution and compensation. Taking the lead on amending a mistake is significantly more important than declaring its intent or lack thereof.

Mistakes happen in business, quite often. Eliminating these mistakes is ideal, but when they do occur, it’s possible for a business to salvage a client relationship with transparency, reassurance and a viable resolution.

How do you recover from a business mistake? Comment below!

Image courtesy of Twenty20.com

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