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7 Bulletproof Business Fundamentals Needed for Success

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Have you ever seen those “top books to read for cs” lists? It’s frustrating to see 50+ books that you have to finish reading before moving on with your startup. They make you feel like, if you don’t read them a disaster will happen.

Although that is somewhat true. I have good news for you. You don’t have to read them all! I’m going to give you 7 of the most powerful tips needed for a great start. But, am I giving you everything you have to know? Of course NOT, and that’s where the bad news comes in…

You will have to read them eventually, but just to buy you some time I’ve summarized the important starting points from all the books I’ve read, so you can get a well-informed head start. I’m doing this so you can start now and stop with the “I have to learn” excuses. Sound good? Then, get a pen and paper because you’re going to be starting sooner than you think.

Here are the seven bulletproof business fundamentals needed for success:

1. It’s all a test

You won’t get everything right the first time. Many entrepreneurs think they’ve failed whenever their product doesn’t work out. It feels terrible… I know. You work for months on a product and then no one buys it. In fact, that’s why they tell you to launch as soon as you can.

So, you can get feedback and update your product fast. Listen to feedback carefully, modify the product and then launch again. Keep repeating this process until you get better and better. You’ll never stop enhancing it since nothing will ever be perfect. Remember that a startup is an experiment lab and there’s always something to improve.

You just have to improve one thing at a time. Oh yeah, one more thing… Don’t just accept feedback. Rather you should demand it and reward for it!

 

2. Give them the fish

Customers don’t want to learn how it’s done. Let me give you an example, imagine you enter a barbershop and the barber gives you scissors and teaches you how to cut your own hair. I’m guessing, you wouldn’t be happy at all. All you wanted was to get a quick haircut and then get out of there. Right? You don’t want to learn how to cut hair. You want your haircut. That’s why you should never teach your customers how to fish. Instead, sell the fish to them!

“It’s really hard to design products by focus groups. A lot of times, people don’t know what they want until you show it to them.” – Steve Jobs

3. Target, Lock and engage

Be specific. Don’t try to do everything and don’t try to target everyone. If you think your product is too general then make it specific. I don’t care if you’re selling pizza or an online course.

Here’s an example, Would you rather be a bodybuilder’s pizza restaurant or just the next boring pizza restaurant? Obviously the first one because it stands out and it’s specific. Bodybuilders who love pizza will rush right through your doors because you told them that this place is for them, you focused on them and you welcomed them. Unlike the general pizza place that makes them feel like the next customer. When you specifically create something for someone they will feel special.

That’s not all. Have you ever considered how much it would cost to promote your products to everyone?  Hint: A LOT! Selling to everyone isn’t logical either. I mean, you wouldn’t try to sell a car to a 10 year old or candy to a 70 year old, would you? Ok, you get the point.

 

4. Playing the monopoly game

If you really want to make it big in the business, you need to have an advantage. Not just a tiny advantage, but, a great one. You need to stand out and be different. Remember that bodybuilder’s pizza place I told you about? That stands out to bodybuilders like no other pizza place ever will.

Contrary to what you learnt at school, competition is actually a bad thing and you need to try your best to avoid it. Exactly like the bodybuilder’s pizza place did. They differentiated themselves from the competition and began operating in the bodybuilder’s pizza market. It is a pretty small niche market, but they now have a monopoly in it.

As long as no one starts competing with them early on and they scale fast, they’ll still be the dominant business in the market. So what’s so bad about competition?

The problem with competition is that it wastes people’s efforts and forces them to survive rather than innovate. Innovation is what keeps our economy moving forward. Look at all the huge companies out there that are taking lead in all the innovation, they all have some kind of monopoly.

For example, Facebook, Google and Microsoft. Each of those companies have a monopoly:

  • According to Smartinsights, Facebook owns 80% of the social network market.
  • According to Theeword, Google owns just over 88% of the search engine market.
  • According to Time, Microsoft owns just over 90% of the computer operating systems market (not for smartphones).

Although no company owns 100%, they do own the majority share and that’s what makes them super successful. However, these companies did not start big. They took over a small market and then scaled up from there (just like the pizza place). Facebook became popular in Harvard College then other colleges and then the whole world. It didn’t take over the whole world over night. The same with Google and the rest of the world’s largest companies. That’s exactly what you should do too.

 

Competitive-Advantage
 

5. How much will you get paid exactly?

Your income is proportional to the value you provide. First, let’s define value. Value simply put is answering the following question: How can I help people more? That means the more you help people the more you’ll get paid in return. It’s as simple as that. Whenever you want to create a product, always ask yourself, how can I help my target customer even more? Just make sure it’s something they really need help with.

 

6. What’s in it for me?

Who cares about features! People want to know what’s in it for them. What benefit do they get out of it? What problem does it solve for them? There are two types of benefits, logical and emotional (also known as the head and the heart benefits). People simultaneously weigh whether something fits well, is affordable, addresses a need – head part – and whether it makes them happy, look good and loved – heart part.

Features fall into the logical part. As an entrepreneur you should figure out what emotional needs you can fulfill along with the logical ones. You’ll stand out when you do that since a lot of entrepreneurs only focus on logical features. Remember, the power of emotions!

 

7. Are they talking about you?

You’ve probably heard of “word of mouth” or referral marketing and it’s greatness. That’s true, every business needs some sort of “word of mouth” marketing especially in the start.

Want to know how NOT to get it? Be boring! People don’t talk about boring. Have you ever talked to someone about what you had for breakfast last week? No, you wouldn’t even care to remember it, let alone talk about it. But, you can guess it was probably the same old boring breakfast.

Want to know how to get people to talk about you? By surprising customers. That’s because people talk about surprising out of the ordinary experiences. It usually sounds a bit like this:

“You can’t believe what happened yesterday! I ordered a Latte from the XYZ café and oh man, the interior design is just out of this world, I’ve never seen anything like it. I even got a free blueberry muffin and it was the best muffin I’ve ever tasted. You should really go and check it out.”

It doesn’t have to be something too big and expensive. In fact, it shouldn’t. Something as little as a hand written thank you card or tiny gift will go a long way. Whatever you do make sure you’re not boring, otherwise everyone will forget about you.

“Be a yardstick of quality. Some people aren’t used to an environment where excellence is expected.” – Steve Jobs

So there you have it. The 7 business fundamentals needed to run a successful business. Nevertheless, knowing them won’t help. You need to act!  You can read all the books you want, but it won’t mean anything if you’re not taking action.

Write them on a notepad and refer to them whenever you’re making your business decisions. It’s not what you know, it’s what you do that counts. If you don’t act now, someone else reading this post will.

Which tip do you think is the most important and why? Please leave your thoughts in the comment section below!

Zak Mustapha is a marketer and the founder of Foolishness File on a lifelong mission to help entrepreneurs learn from other entrepreneur’s mistakes so they can advance faster than others. Download his free eBook: 3 Common Marketing Mistakes You Can Stop Making Today to Humanize Your Brand.

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3 Comments

3 Comments

  1. Brickwork India

    Aug 9, 2016 at 10:11 am

    Hi Zak!

    The points you mentioned are Actionable, Relevant, Retainable! .

    Wonderful stuff!

  2. Zak Mustapha

    Dec 14, 2015 at 7:22 pm

    Hey Evan,

    Really liked Charlie Munger’s “riding the wave theory”, sounds interesting. I’ll make sure to read about it.

    Thanks for your input and I’m glad you liked the article.

    Kind Regards,

    Zak Mustapha

  3. Evan

    Dec 14, 2015 at 11:23 am

    Zak,

    Thank you for this article.

    It’s superb.

    I appreciate the actionable qualities of it and I learned a lot. Number 4 in my opinion is the most important part, because like the bodybuilder’s pizza shop, you should start small, dominate a niche and then aim to take over the market by monopolizing. This is a huge plain-sight secret that I’m sure most do not know about. I spoke about this brand strategy too when I wrote my article on beating yourself – the competition is you!

    All of the major brands did this, they grabbed an important part of the market they wanted as sort of a land-grab in the beginning, then built their moat. Charlie Munger often talks about this “riding the wave theory” because you get in early, build your moat and then you’re surfing on it for a long time because you were keen enough to spot the opportunity.

    Great insights, and I also really like the first point. Everything takes so much longer than we think it will and things go down so roughly the first time.

    If we’re willing to stick the right thing out long enough, we will prosper.

    Thanks again!

    – Evan

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Startups

3 Ways to Make Your Startup Feel Like a Booming Business

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startup success
Image Credit: Unsplash

Being an entrepreneur is a hugely popular day dream. Well over 50% of people want to be their own bosses, according to a survey from Forbes. However, only 4% of those surveyed are actually entrepreneurs! Why is entrepreneurship such a popular dream that many cannot achieve?

The problem is, many people approach running a startup without a solid plan. They hear about the benefits of being able to set your own schedule, develop your dreams, and ignore the realities of setting up a small business.

As Richard Branson says, “To be successful you have to be out there, you have to hit the ground running.” Success will only come if you are well prepared for the daily challenges of entrepreneurship. You need to be organized, focused, and connected to achieve your goals.

Your startup will feel like a booming business with a these 3 tweaks in your daily routine:

1. Stay Organized

Organization is crucial when it comes to running your own business. As an entrepreneur, you’re responsible for meeting all deadlines and getting your product and content out on time. You need to become a hardcore planner.

The best way to stay on top of everything is to create a to-do list and a routine to stay productive. Traditional work environments have routine built into the system, but it’s something you’re going to have to purposefully cultivate in your team. The best way to do this is to make sure your intentions are clear.

A solid to-do list is a good place to start. By ensuring a plan from when you wake up to when you end up in bed, you can make sure no moment is wasted. Use technology to achieve this goal as there are options on calendar and to-do-list applications on the market that can help you better plan and organize your day.

Google Calendar, Apple Calendar and Microsoft Outlook are all solid options since they can act as your personal assistant, making your day run seamlessly. Utilizing them helps you track events, plan and organize your schedule in a few simple clicks.

The core functions of the calendar apps are to show upcoming schedules and alert on important deadlines. To better understand the power of these apps, you have to actually get down to it and test them out. The one you choose depends on whether you are an Android, Windows or iOS person.

“Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.” – Leonardo DaVinci

2. Stay Focused

When running a small business, it can be easy to lose sight of the big picture. If you’re focusing on small tasks, your energy will be depleted when it comes to the bigger picture of your business. In a study at the University of California, Irvine, found that interruptions that cause you to lose focus will result in stress and pressure. According to the report it takes an average of 23 minutes and 15 seconds to get back to a task after a distraction.

Tasks like scheduling and answering calls eat up time that could be better spent developing your team and product. This is where outsourcing comes in. By seeking out professionals, you can ensure your clients are cared for 24/7, while you get to the real work. By figuring out what tasks need to be performed by you and which do not, you’ll free up your time. Get a big business result with small business costs!

3. Stay Connected

Another way to help cultivate success in your startup is to make sure you are connecting with customers. It’s important that this feels authentic because people know when businesses aren’t being genuine and they will respond accordingly.

This authenticity is a benefit that startups have over big businesses. People will naturally assume that small businesses are more genuine than corporations. Prove it to them by being consistent and trust worthy.

“Well done is better than well said.” – Benjamin Franklin

Excellent communication and interaction with clients is necessary for your startup. You’ll want to build up a solid base of loyal customers, and the fastest way to do this is to provide exemplary customer experiences in every interaction. To help you better handle this part of small business and help monitor how you connect with your customers, consider investing in a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system.

Through a CRM you can find and woo customers, because you are able to track how customers interact with your company. For example, a CRM program will let you know if you are getting leads from your social media campaigns, and how many people remember your marketing materials.

Big businesses use CRMs to get clients, by tracking where they connect, how frequently they buy from them, and where the connection stops. If you use a CRM in your small business, you’ll be able to compete, while still remaining genuine.

Running a small business isn’t for everyone, but there are certain traits you can develop within yourself to make it happen. By staying organized, focused, and connected, your startup will be able to compete with bigger businesses.

Do you have a business venture? If so, what is it and how do you plan on succeeding in the long run? Let us know in the comments below!

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4 Rules I Learned From Watching My First Business Go Up in Flames

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business failure
Image Credit: Unsplash

95% of all businesses fail within their first 5 years. Take that in for a moment. If you have recently started a business, you are almost guaranteed to fail! Why in the world would so many people start businesses, me amongst them, if they are basically writing themselves a death sentence?

Before I started my media company, I had spent 3.5 years working for another business. In December 2014, I came to the realization that I would not be working at that job forever. I approached my boss to discuss building a side project of my own within his business. My idea was a monthly greeting card business. The bonus was that I already had the images and the best verses to use, and an audience to target because of my job. In my mind, there was no way I could fail! As I began sending out contracts with the photographers, I was basically counting how much money I would be making in the first month.

Boy, was I in for a surprise! I had created the first three products and gotten a dozen or so photographers on board. However, when I announced the product to what I thought would be an eager audience, it totally flopped. Out of the over 150,000 people I had, only two signed up. When I went to production with the cards, the printing company totally failed on me. Everything that could have gone wrong did. The entire budget for the year had already been spent and we had essentially zero interest. I had to come back to my boss and tell him that the launch was a failure.

“Success is the result of perfection, hard work, learning from failure, loyalty, and persistence.” – Colin Powell

A few months later, when I came to him with the idea for what is Ratz Pack Media today, he laughed me out of the room. After the failed attempt, why in the world would he let me shift my focus from work AGAIN, just to fail?! Fast forward three years, and I am now running Ratz Pack Media full time, generating six figures. I have helped several clients reach their first $1 million. The things I learned from the very short lived greeting card company have helped me build my business, and now I hope they will help you as well.

Rule #1: Get used to failing

While it is true that almost all businesses fail within the first five years, that does not mean that the entrepreneurs who run them will never succeed. Just because your first idea fails, and it probably will, does not mean you should quit trying. When starting a business, you need to be prepared to fail. Everything that can go wrong will, and you‘d better expect them to. If you don’t, your business will join the graveyard. Even if the business fails, pull yourself back up and try again.

Rule #2: People will think you are crazy, and you probably are

Remember how 95% of all businesses fail? Yeah, you do have to be a bit crazy to want to try this thing. Yeah, it is easier to just keep your 9 to 5 job and your pension plan. Yeah, it is easier to let someone else build the future. But, where’s the fun in that? Starting a business is not for the faint of heart, and most people will assume you’ve gone off your rocker. They will likely say it until the moment you are successful. One of my favorite memes is,Work so hard that your haters ask if you’re hiring.” The reason I love it so much is because it is so true!

“Failure is simply the opportunity to begin again, this time more intelligently.” – Henry Ford

Rule #3: There are a ton of great ideas, but almost no great execution

When you take the leap to start a business you are likely starting out with an idea that you are sure will take you to the top of the mountain. When I started my business, I thought it would be a one-stop shop for online marketing. Now, we only focus on Facebook and Instagram management for clients. If I had kept going with the original idea, I would likely have failed already. At the beginning of a business, it is crucial to have a mission and a plan to execute, but you had better be willing to tweak and optimize it over time.

Rule #4: Test before you invest

When I started my greeting cards company, I put a lot of time into the creation of the products and the deals with the photographers. Before we had sold any products, we had already invested in the business. If I were to do it all over again, I would start by testing the waters, such as seeing what people thought about the cards, how much they would be willing to pay, how much interest there was in the idea, before putting so much into it. I apply this rule these days, especially in my clients’ ad campaigns. Whenever we start a new product launch, we begin by targeting their most engaged audience. We wait to see what these people think of the new product, and only then do we begin running ads to colder audiences.

When building a business, things may not always be in your favor. It is most important to remember that even if things go south, it is not too late. You will always have another chance, you will always get to try again, and you will always have another great idea.

I hope you enjoyed this article, and I would love to hear about the biggest lesson you learned from your previous failures down in the comments!

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Why You Should Use Pinterest to Grow Your Business

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pinterest for business

Raise your hand if you’ve been snubbing Pinterest. If your hand is raised, know that you’re not alone because also I used to. Mind you, about two years ago I did actually take the time to set up an account, yet that’s where my Pinterest relationship began and ended. I took a few minutes to look around and checked out. I felt like a squirrel on acid. Too chaotic, too many recipes and so much mom and baby stuff!

This isn’t for me. I’m a personal development blogger and an inspirational/motivational Facebook page owner. I thought Pinterest was no place for me because I post quotes and self help blogs. Due to this, I closed my mind off to it until December 27, 2017.

With the constant urging of a friend, I cautiously opened the Pinterest door again, almost like I was expecting some casserole to come out and smack me upside the head.

I looked around and much to my surprise and delight, there were other bloggers and business peeps just like me on Pinterest. I was instantly hooked. With a new appreciation for this beast, I dove in and got to work. I had 15 followers and no boards. After a few weeks of burning the midnight oil, getting Pin ready images for my blogs, resizing quote images from my Facebook page, creating boards, and joining tribes and other group boards, this happened.

Pinterest statistics

It’s not just babies and crafts

If you are a blogger or business owner, Pinterest has a place for you. Let’s talk a bit about what it is and isn’t.

First and foremost, Pinterest is not a social media platform, it’s a search engine like Google but more colorful and fun. The great thing about Pinterest is that it has its own search engine within it. You can see what your people are searching for. 

Another thing to note is people buy things on Pinterest. Lots of things! Check out this link for Pinterest stats! Now that you know what it’s not, let me tell you what it is. It’s a powerhouse traffic driver.

There’s power behind using Pinterest to drive traffic to your blog. Just take a look at these astounding facts:

  • A pin is 100 times more spreadable than your average tweet
  • Each pin can drive up to 2 page visits and 6 pageviews
  • Ecommerce sites benefit from pinning as each pin can generate 78 cents
  • The life of a pin is one week! Compare that to 24 minutes for Twitter and 90 minutes for Facebook. (source bloggingwizard.com)

In February of this year, my organic reach was just over 1.2 mil views! Remember, I started working it at the end of December with nothing.

pinterest business

It’s not as hard as you think!

It’s time consuming but definitely not hard. Take a minute to think about this, you work hard on your business. You want to reach people, sell things, inspire others, and teach through Pinterest. Don’t you think it would be worth your time and effort to work at something that will actually produce mind blowing results? Of course it would be!

Here are a few tips to get you started on Pinterest:

  • Create a business account. 
  • Have a look around to see what other people in your niche are pinning. Take a look to see what pins attract your attention. 
  • Head over to Picmonkey or Canva and create some pins for your blog or your products. Images are everything! Take extra time on these, you want them to be engaging and you definitely want repins.
  • Create boards and keep them secret until you have enough pins in them to go public. I usually wait until I have about 15 (as I’m creating new boards).
  • Find groups to join so you can share your stuff and repin others. Groups and Tailwind tribes (you should join Tailwind-tons of my traffic comes from there) are key! Think of them as an online networking/marketing event. You need them. I checked out big pinners in my niche, had a look at the group boards they belonged to and then asked to join. 
  • Get active. Pin from other people’s boards, connect with others, join Facebook groups for pinners. Aim to pin 20–50 times a day. It’s really up to you how often you want to, I’ve settled for 30 a day. Don’t let those numbers frighten you. Tailwind takes care of that for you!
  • Keyword your descriptions, boards, pins, everything! Remember, search engine.

Now get going!

Obviously there’s a tad more to it than that but once you get set up and get going, you will quickly become addicted to Pinterest (as I have) and be blown away at the growth of your business.

When you think about it, how much time are you spending (wasting) on social media platforms that just aren’t doing it for you? You’re pulling your hair out wondering why things aren’t working. Stop running the hamster wheel and head on over to Pinterest. It’s not just home decor, breastfeeding pumps and tuna salad recipes. There’s a whole other world you need to explore. If you discount it, you are leaving precious clients and money on the table.

“Social media is about sociology and psychology more than technology” Brian Solis

Have you used Pinterest for your business before? If so, did you like it? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!

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5 Steps to Turn Your Business Into a Well Oiled Machine

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how to automate your business
Image Credit: Unsplash

A lot of online business owners that I interact with run “one man” operations. They spend most of their time delivering to their clients, leaving little room to bring in new ones, and generally grow their business. I’ve been there myself, and it’s incredibly easy to get stuck on solopreneur island, because in order to get off you have to jump into the unknown water and swim.

There are a two main problems with being a solopreneur, and if you are one these it may seem very familiar to you. First of all, as mentioned above, it’s easy to get busy delivering to clients, but that doesn’t actually grow your business, getting NEW clients does. The other big problem is that everything depends on you. You can’t get sick, tired, or go on a holiday, because as soon as you take your foot off the gas pedal, everything stops. Funnily enough, many of us start our own businesses in order to get freedom, yet many just end up creating another job for themselves.

The good news is that you can get off solopreneur island. I’ve done it, and here’s how to do it yourself:

Step #1 – Get clarity & package your offers

A lot of solopreneurs offer a wide range of services. They talk to prospects from all angles, and tailor make their services to fit each unique client’s needs. Sounds like a noble thing to do, but it’s not sustainable. A better approach is to look at the common denominator of the clients you’ve already worked with, and see if you can turn that into a front end offer.

I used to talk to prospects, listen to their needs, and then create a proposal, which usually got rejected. Since we sell video production, I told myself that every video is different, and you can’t turn that into a package. That was simply a limiting belief, and we eventually started offering 30, 60, and 90 second videos with either template or custom graphics.

Look at all the things you’re offering, and see if you can turn your offers into a menu, just like at a restaurant.

“Time = life; therefore, waste your time and waste your life, or master your time and master your life.” – Alan Lakein

Step #2 – Start treating your website like the asset it could be

Your website can get you new clients on autopilot. Don’t hold your website back by having 3 portfolio items and a contact form. Turn it into a salesman.

We get anywhere from 5-20 new clients every single month through our website. The way to accomplish this is to first and foremost realize that people cannot make a purchase if they have unanswered questions. Put all the information they need to make a decision right there on your website. If your prices are less than $1,000 for what you offer, I believe you can make the sale right there on the website. If it’s higher than $1,000 I generally recommend to get people on a phone call first.

These are some things you should do to your website: describe the problem your audience has, describe your solution, show lots of previous work, and tons of testimonials. You should also answer all the frequently asked questions, offer a guarantee, show pictures of your team and most importantly, go for the sale/phone call, not a contact form. Don’t hold your website back, let it work for you.

Step #3 – Build a high quality team

People freak out about hiring. They think hiring means you have to be able to pay someone $60,000 a year, but that’s not true. Like anything else, you can and should, start small. I hired my Project Manager for 3 hours per week when we started.

You’ll also note I wrote “high quality” above. This is crucial. When you hire a $3/hour graphics designer from India, I promise you’ll get $3 quality work. The problem with being cheap when you hire is that you get people that aren’t good at what they do, and can’t solve their own problems. When people can’t solve their own problems it’ll be up to you to do that. You’ll end up working just as much as if you didn’t hire them in the first place, therefore you are effectively paying money to give yourself stress. Does that sound like a good deal to you?

It’s better to hire a $25/h person for 3 hours than a $5/h person for a month. Once I decided to try hiring a high quality freelancer instead of a cheap one, I instantly saw the benefits and have never gone back.

Step #4 – Build systems and procedures

You should have a process in place for everything that is done in your business, especially the stuff that is done repeatedly. Use project management software so that your client facing work always follows the same structure. Use Trello for internal processes. Create documents and checklists showing how to do things.

If you’re training a new employee, record a video rather than doing the training live as you should expect to have to train another person on the same exact thing in the future.  This way a ton of the training will already be ready to go if your employee quits on you (this happened to me and I was able to successfully replace a project manager and have the new one up and running within one week!)

“To be happy, we must not be too concerned with others.” – Albert Camus

Step #5 – Automate when possible

Make a list of every task that happens in your business from when a prospect finds you to when your product is delivered to them. Then, look at how many of those things can actually be done by a computer, and get to work using Zapier and all your other tools. I even recorded a video series where I educate the client along the way.

If you find yourself having the same conversations over and over again, just record a video and save yourself the time! Every automation you put in place is going to save you minutes and eventually hours every single week. This frees up your time so that you can focus on growing your business, instead of just delivering to your clients.

Summary

Getting off solopreneur island is not rocket science. You’ll need to get clear on what your packages are, put your client acquisition on autopilot, get a high quality team in place, document and checklist everything, and finally automate what you can.

Once you actually go through with this you’ll find that your business can run without you, but more importantly you’ll be able to spend your time on growing the business, and not being forced to do the day-to-day operations.

What’s your main takeaway from this article? Comment below!

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25 Confucius Quotes That Will Inspire You to Live the Best Life Possible

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Image Credit | The Great Courses

Confucius was an exceptional teacher and philosopher that founded Confucianism which can be described as a way to govern your life. (more…)

Armando Quintana III is a current master’s student and one of his main goals is to be a physician. He mentors high school and college students along with giving them speeches on alternative ways to reach success, and aims to educate people as a future physician on the natural healing powers of the body. He can be reached through social media at @armandoq3 or his website at mfmanifesto.com.

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3 Comments

3 Comments

  1. Brickwork India

    Aug 9, 2016 at 10:11 am

    Hi Zak!

    The points you mentioned are Actionable, Relevant, Retainable! .

    Wonderful stuff!

  2. Zak Mustapha

    Dec 14, 2015 at 7:22 pm

    Hey Evan,

    Really liked Charlie Munger’s “riding the wave theory”, sounds interesting. I’ll make sure to read about it.

    Thanks for your input and I’m glad you liked the article.

    Kind Regards,

    Zak Mustapha

  3. Evan

    Dec 14, 2015 at 11:23 am

    Zak,

    Thank you for this article.

    It’s superb.

    I appreciate the actionable qualities of it and I learned a lot. Number 4 in my opinion is the most important part, because like the bodybuilder’s pizza shop, you should start small, dominate a niche and then aim to take over the market by monopolizing. This is a huge plain-sight secret that I’m sure most do not know about. I spoke about this brand strategy too when I wrote my article on beating yourself – the competition is you!

    All of the major brands did this, they grabbed an important part of the market they wanted as sort of a land-grab in the beginning, then built their moat. Charlie Munger often talks about this “riding the wave theory” because you get in early, build your moat and then you’re surfing on it for a long time because you were keen enough to spot the opportunity.

    Great insights, and I also really like the first point. Everything takes so much longer than we think it will and things go down so roughly the first time.

    If we’re willing to stick the right thing out long enough, we will prosper.

    Thanks again!

    – Evan

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Startups

3 Ways to Make Your Startup Feel Like a Booming Business

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Being an entrepreneur is a hugely popular day dream. Well over 50% of people want to be their own bosses, according to a survey from Forbes. However, only 4% of those surveyed are actually entrepreneurs! Why is entrepreneurship such a popular dream that many cannot achieve?

The problem is, many people approach running a startup without a solid plan. They hear about the benefits of being able to set your own schedule, develop your dreams, and ignore the realities of setting up a small business.

As Richard Branson says, “To be successful you have to be out there, you have to hit the ground running.” Success will only come if you are well prepared for the daily challenges of entrepreneurship. You need to be organized, focused, and connected to achieve your goals.

Your startup will feel like a booming business with a these 3 tweaks in your daily routine:

1. Stay Organized

Organization is crucial when it comes to running your own business. As an entrepreneur, you’re responsible for meeting all deadlines and getting your product and content out on time. You need to become a hardcore planner.

The best way to stay on top of everything is to create a to-do list and a routine to stay productive. Traditional work environments have routine built into the system, but it’s something you’re going to have to purposefully cultivate in your team. The best way to do this is to make sure your intentions are clear.

A solid to-do list is a good place to start. By ensuring a plan from when you wake up to when you end up in bed, you can make sure no moment is wasted. Use technology to achieve this goal as there are options on calendar and to-do-list applications on the market that can help you better plan and organize your day.

Google Calendar, Apple Calendar and Microsoft Outlook are all solid options since they can act as your personal assistant, making your day run seamlessly. Utilizing them helps you track events, plan and organize your schedule in a few simple clicks.

The core functions of the calendar apps are to show upcoming schedules and alert on important deadlines. To better understand the power of these apps, you have to actually get down to it and test them out. The one you choose depends on whether you are an Android, Windows or iOS person.

“Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.” – Leonardo DaVinci

2. Stay Focused

When running a small business, it can be easy to lose sight of the big picture. If you’re focusing on small tasks, your energy will be depleted when it comes to the bigger picture of your business. In a study at the University of California, Irvine, found that interruptions that cause you to lose focus will result in stress and pressure. According to the report it takes an average of 23 minutes and 15 seconds to get back to a task after a distraction.

Tasks like scheduling and answering calls eat up time that could be better spent developing your team and product. This is where outsourcing comes in. By seeking out professionals, you can ensure your clients are cared for 24/7, while you get to the real work. By figuring out what tasks need to be performed by you and which do not, you’ll free up your time. Get a big business result with small business costs!

3. Stay Connected

Another way to help cultivate success in your startup is to make sure you are connecting with customers. It’s important that this feels authentic because people know when businesses aren’t being genuine and they will respond accordingly.

This authenticity is a benefit that startups have over big businesses. People will naturally assume that small businesses are more genuine than corporations. Prove it to them by being consistent and trust worthy.

“Well done is better than well said.” – Benjamin Franklin

Excellent communication and interaction with clients is necessary for your startup. You’ll want to build up a solid base of loyal customers, and the fastest way to do this is to provide exemplary customer experiences in every interaction. To help you better handle this part of small business and help monitor how you connect with your customers, consider investing in a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system.

Through a CRM you can find and woo customers, because you are able to track how customers interact with your company. For example, a CRM program will let you know if you are getting leads from your social media campaigns, and how many people remember your marketing materials.

Big businesses use CRMs to get clients, by tracking where they connect, how frequently they buy from them, and where the connection stops. If you use a CRM in your small business, you’ll be able to compete, while still remaining genuine.

Running a small business isn’t for everyone, but there are certain traits you can develop within yourself to make it happen. By staying organized, focused, and connected, your startup will be able to compete with bigger businesses.

Do you have a business venture? If so, what is it and how do you plan on succeeding in the long run? Let us know in the comments below!

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4 Rules I Learned From Watching My First Business Go Up in Flames

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95% of all businesses fail within their first 5 years. Take that in for a moment. If you have recently started a business, you are almost guaranteed to fail! Why in the world would so many people start businesses, me amongst them, if they are basically writing themselves a death sentence?

Before I started my media company, I had spent 3.5 years working for another business. In December 2014, I came to the realization that I would not be working at that job forever. I approached my boss to discuss building a side project of my own within his business. My idea was a monthly greeting card business. The bonus was that I already had the images and the best verses to use, and an audience to target because of my job. In my mind, there was no way I could fail! As I began sending out contracts with the photographers, I was basically counting how much money I would be making in the first month.

Boy, was I in for a surprise! I had created the first three products and gotten a dozen or so photographers on board. However, when I announced the product to what I thought would be an eager audience, it totally flopped. Out of the over 150,000 people I had, only two signed up. When I went to production with the cards, the printing company totally failed on me. Everything that could have gone wrong did. The entire budget for the year had already been spent and we had essentially zero interest. I had to come back to my boss and tell him that the launch was a failure.

“Success is the result of perfection, hard work, learning from failure, loyalty, and persistence.” – Colin Powell

A few months later, when I came to him with the idea for what is Ratz Pack Media today, he laughed me out of the room. After the failed attempt, why in the world would he let me shift my focus from work AGAIN, just to fail?! Fast forward three years, and I am now running Ratz Pack Media full time, generating six figures. I have helped several clients reach their first $1 million. The things I learned from the very short lived greeting card company have helped me build my business, and now I hope they will help you as well.

Rule #1: Get used to failing

While it is true that almost all businesses fail within the first five years, that does not mean that the entrepreneurs who run them will never succeed. Just because your first idea fails, and it probably will, does not mean you should quit trying. When starting a business, you need to be prepared to fail. Everything that can go wrong will, and you‘d better expect them to. If you don’t, your business will join the graveyard. Even if the business fails, pull yourself back up and try again.

Rule #2: People will think you are crazy, and you probably are

Remember how 95% of all businesses fail? Yeah, you do have to be a bit crazy to want to try this thing. Yeah, it is easier to just keep your 9 to 5 job and your pension plan. Yeah, it is easier to let someone else build the future. But, where’s the fun in that? Starting a business is not for the faint of heart, and most people will assume you’ve gone off your rocker. They will likely say it until the moment you are successful. One of my favorite memes is,Work so hard that your haters ask if you’re hiring.” The reason I love it so much is because it is so true!

“Failure is simply the opportunity to begin again, this time more intelligently.” – Henry Ford

Rule #3: There are a ton of great ideas, but almost no great execution

When you take the leap to start a business you are likely starting out with an idea that you are sure will take you to the top of the mountain. When I started my business, I thought it would be a one-stop shop for online marketing. Now, we only focus on Facebook and Instagram management for clients. If I had kept going with the original idea, I would likely have failed already. At the beginning of a business, it is crucial to have a mission and a plan to execute, but you had better be willing to tweak and optimize it over time.

Rule #4: Test before you invest

When I started my greeting cards company, I put a lot of time into the creation of the products and the deals with the photographers. Before we had sold any products, we had already invested in the business. If I were to do it all over again, I would start by testing the waters, such as seeing what people thought about the cards, how much they would be willing to pay, how much interest there was in the idea, before putting so much into it. I apply this rule these days, especially in my clients’ ad campaigns. Whenever we start a new product launch, we begin by targeting their most engaged audience. We wait to see what these people think of the new product, and only then do we begin running ads to colder audiences.

When building a business, things may not always be in your favor. It is most important to remember that even if things go south, it is not too late. You will always have another chance, you will always get to try again, and you will always have another great idea.

I hope you enjoyed this article, and I would love to hear about the biggest lesson you learned from your previous failures down in the comments!

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Why You Should Use Pinterest to Grow Your Business

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Raise your hand if you’ve been snubbing Pinterest. If your hand is raised, know that you’re not alone because also I used to. Mind you, about two years ago I did actually take the time to set up an account, yet that’s where my Pinterest relationship began and ended. I took a few minutes to look around and checked out. I felt like a squirrel on acid. Too chaotic, too many recipes and so much mom and baby stuff!

This isn’t for me. I’m a personal development blogger and an inspirational/motivational Facebook page owner. I thought Pinterest was no place for me because I post quotes and self help blogs. Due to this, I closed my mind off to it until December 27, 2017.

With the constant urging of a friend, I cautiously opened the Pinterest door again, almost like I was expecting some casserole to come out and smack me upside the head.

I looked around and much to my surprise and delight, there were other bloggers and business peeps just like me on Pinterest. I was instantly hooked. With a new appreciation for this beast, I dove in and got to work. I had 15 followers and no boards. After a few weeks of burning the midnight oil, getting Pin ready images for my blogs, resizing quote images from my Facebook page, creating boards, and joining tribes and other group boards, this happened.

Pinterest statistics

It’s not just babies and crafts

If you are a blogger or business owner, Pinterest has a place for you. Let’s talk a bit about what it is and isn’t.

First and foremost, Pinterest is not a social media platform, it’s a search engine like Google but more colorful and fun. The great thing about Pinterest is that it has its own search engine within it. You can see what your people are searching for. 

Another thing to note is people buy things on Pinterest. Lots of things! Check out this link for Pinterest stats! Now that you know what it’s not, let me tell you what it is. It’s a powerhouse traffic driver.

There’s power behind using Pinterest to drive traffic to your blog. Just take a look at these astounding facts:

  • A pin is 100 times more spreadable than your average tweet
  • Each pin can drive up to 2 page visits and 6 pageviews
  • Ecommerce sites benefit from pinning as each pin can generate 78 cents
  • The life of a pin is one week! Compare that to 24 minutes for Twitter and 90 minutes for Facebook. (source bloggingwizard.com)

In February of this year, my organic reach was just over 1.2 mil views! Remember, I started working it at the end of December with nothing.

pinterest business

It’s not as hard as you think!

It’s time consuming but definitely not hard. Take a minute to think about this, you work hard on your business. You want to reach people, sell things, inspire others, and teach through Pinterest. Don’t you think it would be worth your time and effort to work at something that will actually produce mind blowing results? Of course it would be!

Here are a few tips to get you started on Pinterest:

  • Create a business account. 
  • Have a look around to see what other people in your niche are pinning. Take a look to see what pins attract your attention. 
  • Head over to Picmonkey or Canva and create some pins for your blog or your products. Images are everything! Take extra time on these, you want them to be engaging and you definitely want repins.
  • Create boards and keep them secret until you have enough pins in them to go public. I usually wait until I have about 15 (as I’m creating new boards).
  • Find groups to join so you can share your stuff and repin others. Groups and Tailwind tribes (you should join Tailwind-tons of my traffic comes from there) are key! Think of them as an online networking/marketing event. You need them. I checked out big pinners in my niche, had a look at the group boards they belonged to and then asked to join. 
  • Get active. Pin from other people’s boards, connect with others, join Facebook groups for pinners. Aim to pin 20–50 times a day. It’s really up to you how often you want to, I’ve settled for 30 a day. Don’t let those numbers frighten you. Tailwind takes care of that for you!
  • Keyword your descriptions, boards, pins, everything! Remember, search engine.

Now get going!

Obviously there’s a tad more to it than that but once you get set up and get going, you will quickly become addicted to Pinterest (as I have) and be blown away at the growth of your business.

When you think about it, how much time are you spending (wasting) on social media platforms that just aren’t doing it for you? You’re pulling your hair out wondering why things aren’t working. Stop running the hamster wheel and head on over to Pinterest. It’s not just home decor, breastfeeding pumps and tuna salad recipes. There’s a whole other world you need to explore. If you discount it, you are leaving precious clients and money on the table.

“Social media is about sociology and psychology more than technology” Brian Solis

Have you used Pinterest for your business before? If so, did you like it? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!

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5 Steps to Turn Your Business Into a Well Oiled Machine

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A lot of online business owners that I interact with run “one man” operations. They spend most of their time delivering to their clients, leaving little room to bring in new ones, and generally grow their business. I’ve been there myself, and it’s incredibly easy to get stuck on solopreneur island, because in order to get off you have to jump into the unknown water and swim.

There are a two main problems with being a solopreneur, and if you are one these it may seem very familiar to you. First of all, as mentioned above, it’s easy to get busy delivering to clients, but that doesn’t actually grow your business, getting NEW clients does. The other big problem is that everything depends on you. You can’t get sick, tired, or go on a holiday, because as soon as you take your foot off the gas pedal, everything stops. Funnily enough, many of us start our own businesses in order to get freedom, yet many just end up creating another job for themselves.

The good news is that you can get off solopreneur island. I’ve done it, and here’s how to do it yourself:

Step #1 – Get clarity & package your offers

A lot of solopreneurs offer a wide range of services. They talk to prospects from all angles, and tailor make their services to fit each unique client’s needs. Sounds like a noble thing to do, but it’s not sustainable. A better approach is to look at the common denominator of the clients you’ve already worked with, and see if you can turn that into a front end offer.

I used to talk to prospects, listen to their needs, and then create a proposal, which usually got rejected. Since we sell video production, I told myself that every video is different, and you can’t turn that into a package. That was simply a limiting belief, and we eventually started offering 30, 60, and 90 second videos with either template or custom graphics.

Look at all the things you’re offering, and see if you can turn your offers into a menu, just like at a restaurant.

“Time = life; therefore, waste your time and waste your life, or master your time and master your life.” – Alan Lakein

Step #2 – Start treating your website like the asset it could be

Your website can get you new clients on autopilot. Don’t hold your website back by having 3 portfolio items and a contact form. Turn it into a salesman.

We get anywhere from 5-20 new clients every single month through our website. The way to accomplish this is to first and foremost realize that people cannot make a purchase if they have unanswered questions. Put all the information they need to make a decision right there on your website. If your prices are less than $1,000 for what you offer, I believe you can make the sale right there on the website. If it’s higher than $1,000 I generally recommend to get people on a phone call first.

These are some things you should do to your website: describe the problem your audience has, describe your solution, show lots of previous work, and tons of testimonials. You should also answer all the frequently asked questions, offer a guarantee, show pictures of your team and most importantly, go for the sale/phone call, not a contact form. Don’t hold your website back, let it work for you.

Step #3 – Build a high quality team

People freak out about hiring. They think hiring means you have to be able to pay someone $60,000 a year, but that’s not true. Like anything else, you can and should, start small. I hired my Project Manager for 3 hours per week when we started.

You’ll also note I wrote “high quality” above. This is crucial. When you hire a $3/hour graphics designer from India, I promise you’ll get $3 quality work. The problem with being cheap when you hire is that you get people that aren’t good at what they do, and can’t solve their own problems. When people can’t solve their own problems it’ll be up to you to do that. You’ll end up working just as much as if you didn’t hire them in the first place, therefore you are effectively paying money to give yourself stress. Does that sound like a good deal to you?

It’s better to hire a $25/h person for 3 hours than a $5/h person for a month. Once I decided to try hiring a high quality freelancer instead of a cheap one, I instantly saw the benefits and have never gone back.

Step #4 – Build systems and procedures

You should have a process in place for everything that is done in your business, especially the stuff that is done repeatedly. Use project management software so that your client facing work always follows the same structure. Use Trello for internal processes. Create documents and checklists showing how to do things.

If you’re training a new employee, record a video rather than doing the training live as you should expect to have to train another person on the same exact thing in the future.  This way a ton of the training will already be ready to go if your employee quits on you (this happened to me and I was able to successfully replace a project manager and have the new one up and running within one week!)

“To be happy, we must not be too concerned with others.” – Albert Camus

Step #5 – Automate when possible

Make a list of every task that happens in your business from when a prospect finds you to when your product is delivered to them. Then, look at how many of those things can actually be done by a computer, and get to work using Zapier and all your other tools. I even recorded a video series where I educate the client along the way.

If you find yourself having the same conversations over and over again, just record a video and save yourself the time! Every automation you put in place is going to save you minutes and eventually hours every single week. This frees up your time so that you can focus on growing your business, instead of just delivering to your clients.

Summary

Getting off solopreneur island is not rocket science. You’ll need to get clear on what your packages are, put your client acquisition on autopilot, get a high quality team in place, document and checklist everything, and finally automate what you can.

Once you actually go through with this you’ll find that your business can run without you, but more importantly you’ll be able to spend your time on growing the business, and not being forced to do the day-to-day operations.

What’s your main takeaway from this article? Comment below!

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