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8 Tips for Startups Wanting to Pitch to Large Organisations

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At Addicted2Success we want to bring you worldwide game changers and success advice. With this in mind, I recently had the pleasure to interview the Managing Director of the Thankyou Group, Daniel Flynn. He is an amazing inspiration to talk to and he has so much wisdom. Daniel won the 2014 JCI 10 Young Outstanding People of the World and Victorian Young Australian of the Year 2014, as well as a host of other awards for his social enterprise startup, Thankyou Group.

His startup sells a range of products including, bottled water, food and body care. The profits go overseas to where they are needed, to help with safe access to water, as well as food and hygiene solutions.  The code on the packaging of the products allows you to follow where your money goes via an app, as well as showing you the exact GPS location and notifying you when the project is complete.

In the below article, you will learn some amazing advice from Daniel that will help you with your own startup.

 

1. Choose the right one just like you choose your holiday spots

Make sure that you narrow the list of large corporations you wish to approach to ones that you know well, understand their business model, are a good brand fit for your startup and know they have the ability to deliver what you need them to. In the case of retailing, it might be that the organisation can sell multiple brands as opposed to some, which can only sell one.

 

2. Find out who the decision makers are

Sometimes the right decision maker is at a lower level of the organisation. The natural tendency is to want to go straight to the top of the organisation on everything. It can sometimes work to go to CEO level or head of a department, but you shouldn’t rule out going to someone at a lower category level who has the decision-making power as well.

It’s also important to research everything from their LinkedIn profiles to articles that have been written about them. If you’re pitching a really big concept you need to think to yourself, who’s the visionary of that brand?

 

3. Method of contact is crucial – we are all kids at heart

There are many ways to approach the key decision maker once you determine who the best person is. Daniel says that he often doesn’t send them a note on LinkedIn, but actually puts a call through to the organisation and speaks with a Personal Assistant or Executive Assistant, to let them know he is sending through a package to their respective manager without giving away any more information. He also mentions that he will be following up with a call.

The reason, why you should think of sending a package, is that key decision makers have 100’s of people contacting them every week via emails (too many to read), letters and packages. If you think about your own life, aren’t you like a kid on Christmas when a package arrives? A package has more intrigue, so consider sending your product sample to them via courier so they need to sign for it. All of this might seem like a lot of effort with the cost of couriers and packages, but it’s hard to cut through, especially with large corporations.

Once the organisation knows that there is a package is coming you then write a letter. If your handwriting is really good it’s a great idea to hand write it, if you’re like me, best to type the letter, print and sign it with a pen. The reason why you do this is that it’s personal. If you send someone a generic mail out you will probably find that they won’t respond to it. Make sure you send the letter by courier (not post) because it seems to have this magic sense of urgency.

The key when writing the letter is to make sure it connects with them. It can often take hours to write the letter and even rewrite the letter a few times, to make sure its short, sharp and succinct.  In the letter, you ask them if you can catch up with them for 15 minutes.  15 minutes is the magic amount of time because it’s almost rude to say no to. If you ask for an hour then you can understand why they might not be able to catchup, but 15 minutes is a lot different.

 

So there may be some out there who want to supercharge this process, so listen to what Daniel did.

He once sent a one metre by half a metre wooden crate to a CEO of a big distributor. In the crate was a letter to the CEO requesting a 15-minute meeting. The funny part was that they hammered the crate shut and got their friend to wear a high visibility vest to look like a courier, and then deliver the crate with a hammer to the front reception of the organisation. Their thinking behind doing this was that they may not open it at first, but eventually they will wonder what’s inside and open it. This stunt ended up working for them and they got through to the CEO and had a response.

“Stand out and be remarkable. “

 

4. Make sure you pitch an opportunity not an idea

Daniel said they spent years going around presenting ideas, but what really changed the game was when they started presenting opportunities. The right time is when you actually have an opportunity not just an idea. You need to make it clear to them why you chose to see them before their competitors, and that you will most likely approach their competitors very soon.

To be successful in this you almost need to make them feel they are missing out without being too high pressure. If you take this approach and do it with good intention, you may even find that you will get a yes at the end of the pitch and not even have to wait for an answer!

When you present them a good opportunity, that’s really when you have the chance to partner with them. One lever, that you can use, is to pitch to multiple large originations and their competitors, at the same time. As a startup, you probably don’t have millions of dollars to impress them but what you do have is the ability to pitch to their competitor.  Use that lever to present to two large organisations that are in competition with each other so that both of them know that one could say yes, and makes them want to be first.

If your startup is a social enterprise with a cause, this might get you some smiles but it ultimately comes down to the commercial offer and whether it stacks up. Remember that most large organisations already support some sort of charity so make sure you present an opportunity to them.

Even if you’re only 18 or 19 years old don’t be afraid of your age. A bit of naivety can actually help you stand out. At the same time, you should mention if you have any mentors or board members who are older to balance out your inexperience.

 

5. Presenting the perfect pitch – Be BOLD and OUTLANDISH

Don’t rush the process of coming up with your pitch. For Daniel, he learnt after 4 years of getting no’s from the supermarkets, to take his time and not to rush things. He then spent the next 12 months with his team, coming up with what they call the “ultimate pitch”.

In a great pitch, you need to cover off all the commercials, who you are, your concept, the future marketing plan and the demand for what you do. The most important factor of the pitch is that you want them to remember it so that it cuts through all the other pitches. When arranging your slides, consider having more images and keywords, and then have a few slides that are more detailed. The slides should back up your pitch but don’t walk in and read off your slides. Make sure that each pitch deck you do is tailored and it addresses their objectives, how they measure success and how they measure profit. It’s worth spending the time to make your pitch deck good because you may only get one shot at it.

Before you get into the room decide what it’s going to take for your pitch to cut through. Daniel often finds that he won’t know whether he is going to pull out his pitch deck until he is in the room and then he will go with his gut. He finds the greatest pitch is a conversation where you look them in the eye and take them on a journey. See the next paragraph for an example.

 

There were two architects pitching for a $200 million dollar development. One went into the boardroom looking like a slick salesman in a suit with all the flip charts etc. The second architect was an older guy who was dressed casually. After the first guy is finished with his flip charts, the second guy walks into the room with only a pencil. He then asks for a piece of paper and sticks it up on the wall. From there he tells the story of the building he wanted to create as he drew it. The decision was later reached and architect number two won the contract. Large organisations are used to getting pitched to all the time with slick, sharp presentations but what are you going to do to stand out?

 

Once your pitch is ready to present you need to think about how many people are going to be involved in the face-to-face pitch from both sides. The general rule of thumb is however many people you are meeting with, that’s how many people you should take. If you’re meeting 5 people you might take 3-5 people with you but turning up on your own could be strange. If you meet with one person from the company it’s going to be hard for them to sit back and relax when they are meeting a lot of new people for the first time. Too many people from your team can create an imbalance in the room. If you’re meeting 1 person you might meet 1 on 1 or maybe 2 on 1, but 3 is pushing it.

 

Image Credit: TedX Brisbane

Image Credit: TedX Brisbane

6. How to cut the decision time down using Social Media

If you want to be really clever and ensure you setup your pitch for success, consider using the power of Social Media like the Thankyou Group did. When you do your pitch the biggest question a large organisation will have is whether or not your product or services will actually sell. If it’s an established business doing the pitch, they could solve the problem by saying that they are going to put millions of dollars into marketing to make sure it sells. The way you can alleviate this problem, if you’re a startup, is through social media and getting your support base or followers to commit that they will buy the product or service if the large organisation agree to partner with you.

“ Social Media can help you prove demand.”

To be able to leverage social media and get your followers to show there is demand for what you’re doing, you need to have built a community first.  You can do this through events, networking and posting really great content. Once you have some sort of community then you would typically do a mail out to your email list and tell them what you’re trying to do. In turn, they would then go to the large organisations Facebook wall, Twitter etc, and tell them they will buy your product or service if the partnership with your startup goes ahead.

“People are not consumers or customers they are part of your community.”

For the success junkies out there who want to supercharge this process, you could then reach out to celebrities and get them to do the same. If you approach a 100 you might get 10 to say yes. Use a similar strategy to the previous advice on approaching key decision makers, and write a hand written letter with an ask of a 15 minute meeting.

Some of you might be thinking that you need to have millions of people to make all this work.

When Daniel and his team pitched for 7-Eleven they only had about 12,000 in their community, and now they have over 130,000 in their community. Daniel thought initially that he would need a few hundred thousand supporters backing his 7-Eleven campaign for it to be successful. It ended up being just a few thousand people posting on Facebook, that convinced them the deal should proceed.

‘It doesn’t take a lot of people to convince someone of a good idea.”

 

7. Don’t let the decision time required discourage you

Often it can take 1-2 years to get a large organisation to say yes and start rolling out your products or service. This cycle is the same whether you’re a startup or a global company. Just because that’s the timeframe that it can take, it does not mean that you can’t get a decision sooner. A lot of it comes down to the terms of the deal you negotiate and how well you communicate the opportunity.

Daniel said an important lesson he learnt the day he did his first ever pitch, is that you can get a yes instantly. When he got his first yes for a large order, he didn’t have a company registered or any of the backend legal stuff completed! This is because, like most startups, he thought it would take months to get an answer. The key here is have faith and be prepared to deliver instantly.

Just getting a yes in the boardroom is still not the final hurdle though. You need to get the actual roll out to occur and this can also take some time. There are still plenty of examples though when this can happen within a month like it did for Daniel after he got a yes from two of the Largest Australian Supermarkets. The caveat for Daniel on having such a fast delivery to market was that he spent 5 years beforehand, trying to get them into the supermarkets. It’s through an utter persistence and a belief in what they were doing, that made it happen.

 

8. Dealing with failure and no’s – Persistence pays off

When you’re a startup it’s a pretty big call to think you will get the pitch right the first time. Getting a no to some, or even all of your pitches, is a reality. At the time you get a no, you can often feel like you want to give up and that you don’t really need the support of that large organisation anyway. You can easily say a lot of things to yourself because there is a lot of emotion involved. If your team is strong you will unite together and learn from the failure. Ask yourself, why didn’t the pitch work? This process of failing multiple times can really help to refine your startup and your process for future pitches.

“Your failures are your lessons learned which become your road to success.”

If you get a no it’s worth going back a second time later on, with a different offering. When you fundamentally believe that they are the right fit for your startup and there is a benefit for them, you don’t stop. As you follow up later on, every contact is a pitch and you want them to feel that they missed out and you’re having massive success. Daniel’s team has worked on some deals with large organisations for 5 years and never got a result.

All of this persistence ended up paying off for Daniel because they eventually came up with the ultimate pitch which will go down in history. You can watch it below on Youtube right now.

 

 

The one business book that Daniel recommends you read is called “Do Purpose by David Hieatt”.

If you would like to continue to follow Daniel’s story and his company, then you can visit thankyou.co

 

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.

Startups

The Best Way to Create a Six-figure Startup From Scratch

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how to create a six figure startup

Many solo entrepreneurs make good six-figure income living selling products and services online. If you’re a technical person, it’s even better, as you can create a highly-scalable cloud-based business. For non-technical founders, there are still many ways to make a six-figure or, even, seven-figure annual revenue.

Several years ago, I started an online publishing startup selling e-books written by myself and several co-authors. In one year, it started generating a six-figure income annually.

To me, that experience has been a determining factor for staying true as an entrepreneur. Today, I own several online ventures that sell both digital and physical products. Each of them uses a different business model.

During my journey to online success, I learned the following lessons related to running an online business:

1. Select products or services that you’re passionate about and the skills you’ve mastered

Only offer things that you’re already familiar with like the back of your hands. This provides you with the upper hand that other competitors might not have. You want your customers to be confident in your products by trusting you. This being said, don’t choose “the more trendy products” to sell. Don’t follow other people’s choices of products because what works for them might not work for you.

2. Find a proven business model that works for the specific product or service you’ll be offering

For instance, you want to sell women’s fashion, because you’ve had experiences in dressmaking or styling. Choosing women’s fashion products to sell is excellent, but you’d need to be more specific. You’d need a niche, because “women’s fashion” is such a huge category.

Let’s say you eventually choose to sell casual women’s apparel. Next, choose the business model carefully. Do you buy from a wholesaler in bulk and sell them? Do you accept consigned products from direct producers? Do you dropship products? Consider the pros and cons based on your strengths and weaknesses.

“The value of an idea lies in the using of it.” – Thomas Edison

3. Be familiar with the tools needed for each business model

Choose the most suitable e-commerce platform for the niche chosen. For instance, since you’ll be selling fashion, the images must include zooming capability, so customers can see the products in more detail. Each type of product requires different e-commerce platform. Selling e-books, for instance, requires a different approach, as it involves digital product download.

It takes time to choose the most appropriate platform for your business, yet it needs to be done properly. Take note of all the features you’d need. Get inspired by popular stores, so you can find some ideas that would work.

4. Optimize the online store with the most updated customer service tools

Today, customers want every service to be speedy and accurate. Make sure that you’re familiar with the most updated technologies, including CRM (Customer Relationship Management) and chatbots. Learn the benefits of each new plugin and how they can be adapted to your business.

As a startup, the first year is always the hardest to go through. The following are proven ways that I’ve been practicing through the years in keeping my focus and enthusiasm as an entrepreneur intact:

1. Be extra aware of changes, no matter how small

Being aware begins even before you start the business. By following your passion, you’re supposed to be already extra aware of what’s going on within this scope of expertise. Competitors, technologies, consumer behaviors, business tools, references (books and other materials)

2. Stay focused and determined to grow the business

It’s easier said than done. Staying focused requires more than a wish. It needs the strongest will to make things happen at any cost. When you’ve decided to do something, stick with it. Give yourself deadlines to complete and finish them off in time with the highest quality possible.

While psychologists disagree with being a perfectionist, to be successful as an entrepreneur, it would require a dash of perfectionism. Your products must be perfect before they can be sold to the public. And there is no way around it than being a perfectionist.

3. Lead yourself well before you lead the team

If you begin the business as a solo entrepreneur, self-direction is key. Working by yourself doesn’t mean you can sleep late, awake at noon, and work only if you want to. Being a solo entrepreneur is a commitment, especially if you seriously want to grow the business and take it to the next level. By learning to lead yourself well, you’d be accustomed to thinking as a leader, which is useful when you’re leading a team.

“The first person you have to conquer is you. This is because when at last you win over million people, the first person to bring you down could be you. Discipline yourself!” – Israelmore Ayivor

4. Build a positive startup culture by staying relaxed and flexible as a leader

The best leader is someone who encourages positivity, adaptability, and flexibility with his or her relaxed demeanor. Remind yourself that your own and your team’s mental and physical health is much more important than anything else.

5. Only hire the right people with the right attitude that fits the culture

The right team comprises of people that get along with each other, who fit the culture, and have the right skills will determine the future of your business. Thus, never underestimate the power of cultural fit. You can always train people to be more skillful, but personality traits and characters can’t be taught.

At last, being successful as startup founder requires both understanding of the ins and outs of the business and how to maintain the soft skills needed to keep the enthusiasm running. Stay true to your choice as an entrepreneur and remain eager to continue progressing. You’re on your way to become a six-figure (or seven-figure) online entrepreneur.

Do you want to start a business? If so, how are you going to put into action these steps? Let us know by commenting below.

Image courtesy of Twenty20.com

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3 Effective Ways to Build a Disruptive Startup Company

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how to build a startup

You probably know of some startups in your country. Even if you know only a few things about business, you probably know how competitive all markets are. Yet some people are crazy enough to build an innovative business disrupting very competitive markets. That’s what entrepreneurs do.

Here are 3 tactics I learned reading their stories about building a disrupting startup from the ground up, personally and technically:

1. Disrupt Yourself

Entrepreneurship, at its core, is a big change, and every change—no matter its size or importance—begins inside of you. You have to initiate it. Successful people initiate proactively. Nobody can help you if you are not ambitious to change and grow.

It’s not an autonomous process. Change happens when you step out of your comfort zone, and it’s not supposed to be easy. In fact, facing uncertainty has always been the hardest part of every success story.

Therefore, to be successful, you have to disrupt yourself first. How?

Fortunately, it can be learned and practiced. According to Whitney Johnson, author and consultant, disrupting yourself involves seven steps:

  •         Taking the right risks.
  •         Playing to your distinctive strengths.
  •         Embracing constraints.
  •         Battling entitlement.
  •         Stepping back to move forward.
  •         Planning for failure.
  •         Letting your strategy emerge.

So to disrupt markets, you have to start with yourself.

“The more you seek the uncomfortable, the more you will become comfortable.” – Conor McGregor

2. Identify “Jobs to Be Done”

Finding a smart idea is another challenging aspect. Watch and research interesting markets and industries carefully. Don’t focus on products and features. Look for everything that companies in an industry are not good enough at doing—the poorly performed jobs.

Look for the real reasons behind buying a product or service.

  •         Does that product/service satisfy customers?
  •         Why don’t some people use a product/service?
  •         What don’t they like about an industry?
  •         What experience do they expect?

Answering these questions helps you know your customers’ real needs and to identify what Clayton M. Christensen, a Harvard Business School professor, calls “jobs to be done.” In other words, it helps you understand the real business you’re in.

This could be emotional or social, but it is less likely to be functional. Use your intuition. Talk to your target customers. Think about what jobs they might hire you to do for them. Pick an idea, create a business model, validate it, and run!

3. Change the customer process

The next challenge is crafting an innovative business model that accomplishes jobs for customers and solves their problems in the best way—and from a fresh perspective. To do this, you have to view the problems through the customer’s’ eyes.

Build a product that rocks and conquers the market. Then create an exceptional set of experiences along with your product/service. This will be possible by focusing not on touchpoints but on customers’ end-to-end journey.

A company’s processes should be aligned to support the journey. It may be easy to copy a business model, but it’s not easy to copy the process and customer experience, even in the most competitive markets.

“A man without a smiling face must not open a shop.” – Chinese Proverb

Remember that disrupting a market takes time. Learn to embrace the change and uncertainty that entrepreneurship entails and set yourself apart from others.

Do you want to start a business? Tell us what you have your heart set on so we can help you along the way!

Image courtesy of Twenty20.com

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Your Competition Is Magnificent – Quit Being A Sook

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I’ve got this friend and he’s always crying about the competition. He spends a lot of time sooking about them and coming up with plans to take them down.

I’ve put up with it for a while, but now it’s driving me nuts. I started to think: how can we learn to love our competition in business?

Here are some thoughts I had about your competition:

 

Thought #1 – You say they’re lying. Good!

My friend says his competition is lying. Many businesses lie and that’s fantastic news for you. When a business lies, they are playing the short game.

“The long game in business is about being so vulnerable, authentic and real that it punches your ideal customer in the face every time they hear about your brand”

Trust in business, leads to incredible progress. All those marketing campaigns your competitor’s use are mostly to make them sound like something they are not. When your business is trustworthy, you don’t need to market as much.

Being honest cuts through the hype and because it’s so rare, your ideal customer runs towards you at 110km, with their arms wide open. Right behind them are all of their network who are begging to hear from a business that is a real – a business that is like you and me.

Don’t hate your dishonest competition: learn to love them from the bottom of your heart. See the love in your competition.

 

Thought #2 – There’s enough room for everyone

This scarcity mindset that you have to own 100% of the market in your first three years of operations is bulldust. There’s room for you and your competitors. It’s not a sprint; it’s a marathon to reach the unicorn status that is success/world domination.

Feeling like you’re drowning in competition is exactly that. Focusing on your competition 24/7 makes you feel like absolute garbage after a while. It stops you from having a good night sleep full of dreams that contain growth, prosperity, optimism and triumph towards your businesses mission.

I used to be that guy that couldn’t sleep because of competition. Every time someone brought out the same product that was cheaper than mine, I cracked it. I thought that business was so hard because there were so many people that wanted to cut my lunch.

What I forgot is that despite all the competition, people were still buying. Even if we weren’t the cheapest, it didn’t matter. Some people would find us and buy, and others wouldn’t.

The competition can only cut your lunch for so long. If you stick at it and not let the thoughts of their horrible shadows upset you, you’ll be soon making the lunches and cutting theirs.

 

Thought #3 – It’s ugly

Sooking like a pissed off brown bear with a crown on its head is ugly. You’re showing everyone you work with that you are a sore loser. Winners worry about their own business first.

“Winners know that their business isn’t an immaculate diamond on day one”

Every time my friend complained about his competitors; it made his business seem ugly. I stopped becoming drawn to it as I did at the start. The conversations became more about his competitors than his own business. The focus was lost on competitors which he couldn’t control.

 

Thought #4 – You can’t win every deal

No business wins 100% of the opportunities that are presented. There’s this lie that you have to be always winning to be successful. There’s this belief that some people have that says their business is unique and therefore it’s only normal that when they pitch, they will always win.

Again, this is total BS. Your business might have some unique strengths, but there’s always competition. Some deals you’ll win and some deals you won’t. You don’t need to win all the time to put food on the table and be successful.

I’m also competitive by nature and I’ve had to settle sometimes for the simple fact that I won’t win all the time. Sometimes losing a deal is only the beginning. The opportunities you lose are where all the lessons are.

“Your lost opportunities are what strengthen your entire value proposition to the market”

 

Thought #5 – Seeing your competitors suck is inspiring

When a competitor of yours has a major failure, you should be inspired. What I mean is that you should never want your own client base to suffer the same gunshot to the head. Instead of trash talking your competitors for their mistakes, use them as inspiration to not be like them.

Your competitors should form part of the reason why you exist. You should exist not to make the same dumb mistakes they do. You should exist so your customers have a better alternative. Having horrendous companies within the same industry has inspired many businesses like Uber and Airbnb.

Being a business full of inspiring people is easier when everyone else sucks.

 

Thought #6 – Complaining shows insecurity

By my friend complaining about his competition, what he revealed to me was his insecurity. He was showing me that he lacked the confidence in his own product and so it made sense for him to talk down everyone else’s.

The thing is when you love your product and genuinely believe it’s the best in its field, you forget about everyone else’s. Believing in your product offering comes from the confidence that as a business you believe in yourselves.

If you believe, your ideal customer will believe. Bagging your competition may make you feel better in the short term, but it will never make your business grow.

Thought #7 – You only have so much thinking space

Don’t waste it thinking about your competitors. Use your thinking space to come up with new ideas, to innovate and to WOW your customers. These habits will stop you from living in the scarcity that comes with being obsessed by your competition.

Thinking about your competitors is not going to make them go away. Complaining about them will not improve your product or service. To have a good business, you have to operate from a place of creativity. Being creative is hard work and so you don’t want throw away your thinking space.

Dreaming about your competitors puts you in a spiral of negative thoughts. These thoughts start to overtake the positive ones and pretty soon you can’t be relentlessly optimistic anymore. It’s this optimism that helps you come up with ideas that will change the world.

Much like we compare ourselves to the lives we live through looking at other people’s social media, focusing on your competitor’s forces you to always believe you don’t have enough.

I’m here to say you are good enough. Your business is good enough. Your business can be one of the great’s.

 

Thought #8 – You can actually do business with your competitors

Here’s the really stupid thing: You can actually do business with your competitors. See, your business can’t fulfill every customer need. Instead of saying “We don’t do that,” use your competitors as referral partners.

I can remember in a business that I was a part of, where we used our competitors over the road to supply us with stock when we ran out and had items on back order. We would do the same thing for them when they ran out of stock. As a result, we always had stock.

“Our competitors over the road taught us lots of things we would have never known if we tried to play the solo game. Business is a team sport”

 

***Final thought***

Your competition is not the problem. They’re not the reason why you are losing sales. The real reason you are focused on your competition is because something is wrong with the way you are thinking. Your competitors can force you to sabotage your own success if you don’t stop focusing on them.

Complaining about your competitors never get’s you anywhere. The way to fast-track your success is to get intimate with your competitors and find a way to be uniquely you. Find a way to be bold, authentic, real, sexy and unwavering in your businesses values. Be the honest, cool company that is friends with everybody. That’s how you go from being a sook to being the best in your field.

I want you to use your competition to be world-class. You deserve it.

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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5 Ways to Avoid Burning Out While Building Your Business

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how to avoid burnout

Isn’t it strange how mundane things can bring back really vivid memories? As the burnt toast hit the trash, I remembered how burn out meant my first online business ended up on the scrapheap (nearly taking me with it). 

Juggling a full-time job, family, volunteering and running an online business left me physically, emotionally and psychologically exhausted. Just like toast, the burn creeps in slowly and when complete, you’re left unable to nourish yourself or anything else.

You may have already heard run-of-the-mill advice like taking regular breaks to prevent burn out. But what’s the point of stepping away from work only to be stressed that things will fall apart?

Here are five not-so-obvious ways to become burn out proof:

1. Create the right systems

Having no systems (or the wrong systems) is a recipe for disaster. Unfortunately, systems get a bad rap because they can be seen as snooze fests. Who’s ever heard of a sexy system? I sure haven’t!

To make matters worse, traditional systems have a sterile and stuffy image that can make some entrepreneurs feel boxed into something that’s unsuitable for their needs.

The key to making systems work for your business is to design them with flexibility, so your creativity isn’t stifled. Systems that curb burn out are those that account for the ‘secret sauce’ of how you do business. This ensures authenticity, even when your business grows. I call these flexible and personalized systems ‘productivity recipes.’ Because, just like normal recipes, you have the core ingredients and you can make tweaks to suit your business taste.

We’re all different, so there’s no one-size-fits-all business system. Productivity recipes focus on the human side of systems. They bring order to repetitive tasks while taking into account the quirks that make your business unique.

Productivity recipes stop burn out by preventing you from biting off more than you can chew, especially when your business is growing.

2. Get apps ‘talking’ to each other

Automation is another way to hand over repetitive and stressful work. Services like IFTTT and Zapier connect the apps you use to automate your workflow. In other words, they get rid of the biggest time sucks in your business.

Part of creating productivity recipes is to spot tasks you can automate. This will help your business run like a well-oiled machine and save you money when outsourcing.

Start out automating everyday tasks, like social media and email management, by finding out how the apps can ‘talk’ to each other.

Do yourself (and your health) a favour and start to create productivity recipes to see what you can automate. The aim is to drop repetitive tasks like a hot potato to reduce the risk of burnt out. Get your apps communicating to free up time to chat with friends and family.

“The first rule of any technology used in a business is that automation applied to an efficient operation will magnify the efficiency. The second is that automation applied to an inefficient operation will magnify the inefficiency.” – Bill Gates

3. Outsource

Outsourcing should be done when you already have productivity recipes in place. It’s tempting to hand over parts of your business to a VA or freelancer and forget about it, but this approach could land you in hot water.

With productivity recipes, anyone you hire will have the blueprint of how you expect things to be done. You’ll also save time getting new hires up to speed. Most importantly, your clients won’t get any nasty surprises or unwelcome changes when you grow your team.

You’ll be able to take time out to recharge your batteries, having all the confidence that your business will continue to function properly in your absence.

4. Find some cheerleaders

Being part of a supportive group is crucial to making yourself burn out proof. Informal groups, like Facebook communities, are helpful networks that can prevent you going down the burn out road.

If you’ve been working non-stop and your brain feels as limp as the lettuce in the sandwich you’ve been too busy to eat, connect with people who can identify with where you are and encourage you to take a step back.

The best groups are those that aren’t strictly business. Look for a group with dedicated days for sharing things like inspirational quotes and jokes to lighten things up a little.

Feeling like you’re the only one who experiences overwhelm can be a lonely place. Being part of a community where people share their struggles helps to provide perspective that you can achieve your goals without compromising your health.

“Be strong, be fearless, be beautiful. And believe that anything is possible when you have the right people there to support you.” – Misty Copeland

5. Inject your personality into your passion

When you’re passionate about your work, it seems like you can work day and night without ever feeling tired. Of course, it’s advisable to make time for proper rest. I’ve found that, the more I enjoy work, the more I look after myself to reduce the risks of becoming ill. I’m passionate about helping entrepreneurs be more productive to avoid burn out. I’m also a huge foodie. That’s why I incorporate food and drink analogies in my work because being fed and watered is something we can all relate to.

Injecting your personality into your work makes everything easier. It’s very draining pretending to be someone you’re not. If you’re already pursuing your passion, add a splash of your personality to reduce the chance of burn out.

Suffering from burn out is a serious setback to your health and business. It’s a relief to know that, unlike the burnt toast that ends up in the trash, you can make a full recovery from burn out. But why take the risk in the first place? Put in place practical measures to avoid getting burnt when the heat is turned up in your business.

It’s good to share. What do you put in place to make sure you don’t burn out? Leave a comment below and share your thoughts.

How do you avoid burning out when things get tough? Let us know by commenting below!

Image courtesy of Twenty20.com

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7 Everyday Methods Go-Getters Use to Train Their Minds

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train your mind

A lot of importance is given to physical fitness, yet have you met anyone who says, “I am training my mind?” The world gives so much attention to a pretty package but what about the inside? (more…)

Luke writes about mental wellness and benefits of brain supplements at nootrina. He’s a big fan of Yoga and mindfulness and feels that these two are the real key to mental well-being. Being a foodie, Luke loves cooking and brings several cuisines to bear at his dinner table. He’s looking to improve the awareness about mental health issues and share ways to handle them among people of all ages.

Startups

The Best Way to Create a Six-figure Startup From Scratch

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how to create a six figure startup

Many solo entrepreneurs make good six-figure income living selling products and services online. If you’re a technical person, it’s even better, as you can create a highly-scalable cloud-based business. For non-technical founders, there are still many ways to make a six-figure or, even, seven-figure annual revenue.

Several years ago, I started an online publishing startup selling e-books written by myself and several co-authors. In one year, it started generating a six-figure income annually.

To me, that experience has been a determining factor for staying true as an entrepreneur. Today, I own several online ventures that sell both digital and physical products. Each of them uses a different business model.

During my journey to online success, I learned the following lessons related to running an online business:

1. Select products or services that you’re passionate about and the skills you’ve mastered

Only offer things that you’re already familiar with like the back of your hands. This provides you with the upper hand that other competitors might not have. You want your customers to be confident in your products by trusting you. This being said, don’t choose “the more trendy products” to sell. Don’t follow other people’s choices of products because what works for them might not work for you.

2. Find a proven business model that works for the specific product or service you’ll be offering

For instance, you want to sell women’s fashion, because you’ve had experiences in dressmaking or styling. Choosing women’s fashion products to sell is excellent, but you’d need to be more specific. You’d need a niche, because “women’s fashion” is such a huge category.

Let’s say you eventually choose to sell casual women’s apparel. Next, choose the business model carefully. Do you buy from a wholesaler in bulk and sell them? Do you accept consigned products from direct producers? Do you dropship products? Consider the pros and cons based on your strengths and weaknesses.

“The value of an idea lies in the using of it.” – Thomas Edison

3. Be familiar with the tools needed for each business model

Choose the most suitable e-commerce platform for the niche chosen. For instance, since you’ll be selling fashion, the images must include zooming capability, so customers can see the products in more detail. Each type of product requires different e-commerce platform. Selling e-books, for instance, requires a different approach, as it involves digital product download.

It takes time to choose the most appropriate platform for your business, yet it needs to be done properly. Take note of all the features you’d need. Get inspired by popular stores, so you can find some ideas that would work.

4. Optimize the online store with the most updated customer service tools

Today, customers want every service to be speedy and accurate. Make sure that you’re familiar with the most updated technologies, including CRM (Customer Relationship Management) and chatbots. Learn the benefits of each new plugin and how they can be adapted to your business.

As a startup, the first year is always the hardest to go through. The following are proven ways that I’ve been practicing through the years in keeping my focus and enthusiasm as an entrepreneur intact:

1. Be extra aware of changes, no matter how small

Being aware begins even before you start the business. By following your passion, you’re supposed to be already extra aware of what’s going on within this scope of expertise. Competitors, technologies, consumer behaviors, business tools, references (books and other materials)

2. Stay focused and determined to grow the business

It’s easier said than done. Staying focused requires more than a wish. It needs the strongest will to make things happen at any cost. When you’ve decided to do something, stick with it. Give yourself deadlines to complete and finish them off in time with the highest quality possible.

While psychologists disagree with being a perfectionist, to be successful as an entrepreneur, it would require a dash of perfectionism. Your products must be perfect before they can be sold to the public. And there is no way around it than being a perfectionist.

3. Lead yourself well before you lead the team

If you begin the business as a solo entrepreneur, self-direction is key. Working by yourself doesn’t mean you can sleep late, awake at noon, and work only if you want to. Being a solo entrepreneur is a commitment, especially if you seriously want to grow the business and take it to the next level. By learning to lead yourself well, you’d be accustomed to thinking as a leader, which is useful when you’re leading a team.

“The first person you have to conquer is you. This is because when at last you win over million people, the first person to bring you down could be you. Discipline yourself!” – Israelmore Ayivor

4. Build a positive startup culture by staying relaxed and flexible as a leader

The best leader is someone who encourages positivity, adaptability, and flexibility with his or her relaxed demeanor. Remind yourself that your own and your team’s mental and physical health is much more important than anything else.

5. Only hire the right people with the right attitude that fits the culture

The right team comprises of people that get along with each other, who fit the culture, and have the right skills will determine the future of your business. Thus, never underestimate the power of cultural fit. You can always train people to be more skillful, but personality traits and characters can’t be taught.

At last, being successful as startup founder requires both understanding of the ins and outs of the business and how to maintain the soft skills needed to keep the enthusiasm running. Stay true to your choice as an entrepreneur and remain eager to continue progressing. You’re on your way to become a six-figure (or seven-figure) online entrepreneur.

Do you want to start a business? If so, how are you going to put into action these steps? Let us know by commenting below.

Image courtesy of Twenty20.com

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3 Effective Ways to Build a Disruptive Startup Company

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You probably know of some startups in your country. Even if you know only a few things about business, you probably know how competitive all markets are. Yet some people are crazy enough to build an innovative business disrupting very competitive markets. That’s what entrepreneurs do.

Here are 3 tactics I learned reading their stories about building a disrupting startup from the ground up, personally and technically:

1. Disrupt Yourself

Entrepreneurship, at its core, is a big change, and every change—no matter its size or importance—begins inside of you. You have to initiate it. Successful people initiate proactively. Nobody can help you if you are not ambitious to change and grow.

It’s not an autonomous process. Change happens when you step out of your comfort zone, and it’s not supposed to be easy. In fact, facing uncertainty has always been the hardest part of every success story.

Therefore, to be successful, you have to disrupt yourself first. How?

Fortunately, it can be learned and practiced. According to Whitney Johnson, author and consultant, disrupting yourself involves seven steps:

  •         Taking the right risks.
  •         Playing to your distinctive strengths.
  •         Embracing constraints.
  •         Battling entitlement.
  •         Stepping back to move forward.
  •         Planning for failure.
  •         Letting your strategy emerge.

So to disrupt markets, you have to start with yourself.

“The more you seek the uncomfortable, the more you will become comfortable.” – Conor McGregor

2. Identify “Jobs to Be Done”

Finding a smart idea is another challenging aspect. Watch and research interesting markets and industries carefully. Don’t focus on products and features. Look for everything that companies in an industry are not good enough at doing—the poorly performed jobs.

Look for the real reasons behind buying a product or service.

  •         Does that product/service satisfy customers?
  •         Why don’t some people use a product/service?
  •         What don’t they like about an industry?
  •         What experience do they expect?

Answering these questions helps you know your customers’ real needs and to identify what Clayton M. Christensen, a Harvard Business School professor, calls “jobs to be done.” In other words, it helps you understand the real business you’re in.

This could be emotional or social, but it is less likely to be functional. Use your intuition. Talk to your target customers. Think about what jobs they might hire you to do for them. Pick an idea, create a business model, validate it, and run!

3. Change the customer process

The next challenge is crafting an innovative business model that accomplishes jobs for customers and solves their problems in the best way—and from a fresh perspective. To do this, you have to view the problems through the customer’s’ eyes.

Build a product that rocks and conquers the market. Then create an exceptional set of experiences along with your product/service. This will be possible by focusing not on touchpoints but on customers’ end-to-end journey.

A company’s processes should be aligned to support the journey. It may be easy to copy a business model, but it’s not easy to copy the process and customer experience, even in the most competitive markets.

“A man without a smiling face must not open a shop.” – Chinese Proverb

Remember that disrupting a market takes time. Learn to embrace the change and uncertainty that entrepreneurship entails and set yourself apart from others.

Do you want to start a business? Tell us what you have your heart set on so we can help you along the way!

Image courtesy of Twenty20.com

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Your Competition Is Magnificent – Quit Being A Sook

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I’ve got this friend and he’s always crying about the competition. He spends a lot of time sooking about them and coming up with plans to take them down.

I’ve put up with it for a while, but now it’s driving me nuts. I started to think: how can we learn to love our competition in business?

Here are some thoughts I had about your competition:

 

Thought #1 – You say they’re lying. Good!

My friend says his competition is lying. Many businesses lie and that’s fantastic news for you. When a business lies, they are playing the short game.

“The long game in business is about being so vulnerable, authentic and real that it punches your ideal customer in the face every time they hear about your brand”

Trust in business, leads to incredible progress. All those marketing campaigns your competitor’s use are mostly to make them sound like something they are not. When your business is trustworthy, you don’t need to market as much.

Being honest cuts through the hype and because it’s so rare, your ideal customer runs towards you at 110km, with their arms wide open. Right behind them are all of their network who are begging to hear from a business that is a real – a business that is like you and me.

Don’t hate your dishonest competition: learn to love them from the bottom of your heart. See the love in your competition.

 

Thought #2 – There’s enough room for everyone

This scarcity mindset that you have to own 100% of the market in your first three years of operations is bulldust. There’s room for you and your competitors. It’s not a sprint; it’s a marathon to reach the unicorn status that is success/world domination.

Feeling like you’re drowning in competition is exactly that. Focusing on your competition 24/7 makes you feel like absolute garbage after a while. It stops you from having a good night sleep full of dreams that contain growth, prosperity, optimism and triumph towards your businesses mission.

I used to be that guy that couldn’t sleep because of competition. Every time someone brought out the same product that was cheaper than mine, I cracked it. I thought that business was so hard because there were so many people that wanted to cut my lunch.

What I forgot is that despite all the competition, people were still buying. Even if we weren’t the cheapest, it didn’t matter. Some people would find us and buy, and others wouldn’t.

The competition can only cut your lunch for so long. If you stick at it and not let the thoughts of their horrible shadows upset you, you’ll be soon making the lunches and cutting theirs.

 

Thought #3 – It’s ugly

Sooking like a pissed off brown bear with a crown on its head is ugly. You’re showing everyone you work with that you are a sore loser. Winners worry about their own business first.

“Winners know that their business isn’t an immaculate diamond on day one”

Every time my friend complained about his competitors; it made his business seem ugly. I stopped becoming drawn to it as I did at the start. The conversations became more about his competitors than his own business. The focus was lost on competitors which he couldn’t control.

 

Thought #4 – You can’t win every deal

No business wins 100% of the opportunities that are presented. There’s this lie that you have to be always winning to be successful. There’s this belief that some people have that says their business is unique and therefore it’s only normal that when they pitch, they will always win.

Again, this is total BS. Your business might have some unique strengths, but there’s always competition. Some deals you’ll win and some deals you won’t. You don’t need to win all the time to put food on the table and be successful.

I’m also competitive by nature and I’ve had to settle sometimes for the simple fact that I won’t win all the time. Sometimes losing a deal is only the beginning. The opportunities you lose are where all the lessons are.

“Your lost opportunities are what strengthen your entire value proposition to the market”

 

Thought #5 – Seeing your competitors suck is inspiring

When a competitor of yours has a major failure, you should be inspired. What I mean is that you should never want your own client base to suffer the same gunshot to the head. Instead of trash talking your competitors for their mistakes, use them as inspiration to not be like them.

Your competitors should form part of the reason why you exist. You should exist not to make the same dumb mistakes they do. You should exist so your customers have a better alternative. Having horrendous companies within the same industry has inspired many businesses like Uber and Airbnb.

Being a business full of inspiring people is easier when everyone else sucks.

 

Thought #6 – Complaining shows insecurity

By my friend complaining about his competition, what he revealed to me was his insecurity. He was showing me that he lacked the confidence in his own product and so it made sense for him to talk down everyone else’s.

The thing is when you love your product and genuinely believe it’s the best in its field, you forget about everyone else’s. Believing in your product offering comes from the confidence that as a business you believe in yourselves.

If you believe, your ideal customer will believe. Bagging your competition may make you feel better in the short term, but it will never make your business grow.

Thought #7 – You only have so much thinking space

Don’t waste it thinking about your competitors. Use your thinking space to come up with new ideas, to innovate and to WOW your customers. These habits will stop you from living in the scarcity that comes with being obsessed by your competition.

Thinking about your competitors is not going to make them go away. Complaining about them will not improve your product or service. To have a good business, you have to operate from a place of creativity. Being creative is hard work and so you don’t want throw away your thinking space.

Dreaming about your competitors puts you in a spiral of negative thoughts. These thoughts start to overtake the positive ones and pretty soon you can’t be relentlessly optimistic anymore. It’s this optimism that helps you come up with ideas that will change the world.

Much like we compare ourselves to the lives we live through looking at other people’s social media, focusing on your competitor’s forces you to always believe you don’t have enough.

I’m here to say you are good enough. Your business is good enough. Your business can be one of the great’s.

 

Thought #8 – You can actually do business with your competitors

Here’s the really stupid thing: You can actually do business with your competitors. See, your business can’t fulfill every customer need. Instead of saying “We don’t do that,” use your competitors as referral partners.

I can remember in a business that I was a part of, where we used our competitors over the road to supply us with stock when we ran out and had items on back order. We would do the same thing for them when they ran out of stock. As a result, we always had stock.

“Our competitors over the road taught us lots of things we would have never known if we tried to play the solo game. Business is a team sport”

 

***Final thought***

Your competition is not the problem. They’re not the reason why you are losing sales. The real reason you are focused on your competition is because something is wrong with the way you are thinking. Your competitors can force you to sabotage your own success if you don’t stop focusing on them.

Complaining about your competitors never get’s you anywhere. The way to fast-track your success is to get intimate with your competitors and find a way to be uniquely you. Find a way to be bold, authentic, real, sexy and unwavering in your businesses values. Be the honest, cool company that is friends with everybody. That’s how you go from being a sook to being the best in your field.

I want you to use your competition to be world-class. You deserve it.

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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5 Ways to Avoid Burning Out While Building Your Business

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Isn’t it strange how mundane things can bring back really vivid memories? As the burnt toast hit the trash, I remembered how burn out meant my first online business ended up on the scrapheap (nearly taking me with it). 

Juggling a full-time job, family, volunteering and running an online business left me physically, emotionally and psychologically exhausted. Just like toast, the burn creeps in slowly and when complete, you’re left unable to nourish yourself or anything else.

You may have already heard run-of-the-mill advice like taking regular breaks to prevent burn out. But what’s the point of stepping away from work only to be stressed that things will fall apart?

Here are five not-so-obvious ways to become burn out proof:

1. Create the right systems

Having no systems (or the wrong systems) is a recipe for disaster. Unfortunately, systems get a bad rap because they can be seen as snooze fests. Who’s ever heard of a sexy system? I sure haven’t!

To make matters worse, traditional systems have a sterile and stuffy image that can make some entrepreneurs feel boxed into something that’s unsuitable for their needs.

The key to making systems work for your business is to design them with flexibility, so your creativity isn’t stifled. Systems that curb burn out are those that account for the ‘secret sauce’ of how you do business. This ensures authenticity, even when your business grows. I call these flexible and personalized systems ‘productivity recipes.’ Because, just like normal recipes, you have the core ingredients and you can make tweaks to suit your business taste.

We’re all different, so there’s no one-size-fits-all business system. Productivity recipes focus on the human side of systems. They bring order to repetitive tasks while taking into account the quirks that make your business unique.

Productivity recipes stop burn out by preventing you from biting off more than you can chew, especially when your business is growing.

2. Get apps ‘talking’ to each other

Automation is another way to hand over repetitive and stressful work. Services like IFTTT and Zapier connect the apps you use to automate your workflow. In other words, they get rid of the biggest time sucks in your business.

Part of creating productivity recipes is to spot tasks you can automate. This will help your business run like a well-oiled machine and save you money when outsourcing.

Start out automating everyday tasks, like social media and email management, by finding out how the apps can ‘talk’ to each other.

Do yourself (and your health) a favour and start to create productivity recipes to see what you can automate. The aim is to drop repetitive tasks like a hot potato to reduce the risk of burnt out. Get your apps communicating to free up time to chat with friends and family.

“The first rule of any technology used in a business is that automation applied to an efficient operation will magnify the efficiency. The second is that automation applied to an inefficient operation will magnify the inefficiency.” – Bill Gates

3. Outsource

Outsourcing should be done when you already have productivity recipes in place. It’s tempting to hand over parts of your business to a VA or freelancer and forget about it, but this approach could land you in hot water.

With productivity recipes, anyone you hire will have the blueprint of how you expect things to be done. You’ll also save time getting new hires up to speed. Most importantly, your clients won’t get any nasty surprises or unwelcome changes when you grow your team.

You’ll be able to take time out to recharge your batteries, having all the confidence that your business will continue to function properly in your absence.

4. Find some cheerleaders

Being part of a supportive group is crucial to making yourself burn out proof. Informal groups, like Facebook communities, are helpful networks that can prevent you going down the burn out road.

If you’ve been working non-stop and your brain feels as limp as the lettuce in the sandwich you’ve been too busy to eat, connect with people who can identify with where you are and encourage you to take a step back.

The best groups are those that aren’t strictly business. Look for a group with dedicated days for sharing things like inspirational quotes and jokes to lighten things up a little.

Feeling like you’re the only one who experiences overwhelm can be a lonely place. Being part of a community where people share their struggles helps to provide perspective that you can achieve your goals without compromising your health.

“Be strong, be fearless, be beautiful. And believe that anything is possible when you have the right people there to support you.” – Misty Copeland

5. Inject your personality into your passion

When you’re passionate about your work, it seems like you can work day and night without ever feeling tired. Of course, it’s advisable to make time for proper rest. I’ve found that, the more I enjoy work, the more I look after myself to reduce the risks of becoming ill. I’m passionate about helping entrepreneurs be more productive to avoid burn out. I’m also a huge foodie. That’s why I incorporate food and drink analogies in my work because being fed and watered is something we can all relate to.

Injecting your personality into your work makes everything easier. It’s very draining pretending to be someone you’re not. If you’re already pursuing your passion, add a splash of your personality to reduce the chance of burn out.

Suffering from burn out is a serious setback to your health and business. It’s a relief to know that, unlike the burnt toast that ends up in the trash, you can make a full recovery from burn out. But why take the risk in the first place? Put in place practical measures to avoid getting burnt when the heat is turned up in your business.

It’s good to share. What do you put in place to make sure you don’t burn out? Leave a comment below and share your thoughts.

How do you avoid burning out when things get tough? Let us know by commenting below!

Image courtesy of Twenty20.com

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