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9 Strategies Your Startup Can Use In The First Year

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In the first year of being an entrepreneur and deciding to go and do your own startup, you are going to uncover multiple challenges along the way. To help you with this journey, I recently interviewed David Henderson (CEO) and Dana Blouin (Chief Data Scientist) of the first year startup Drvr.

Drvr is a combination of a device and a sleek piece of software that allows companies to capture data on their fleet of vehicles and then use their platform to analyse the data to assist in optimising driver behaviour, vehicle safety, and resource management.

Thailand is rated the second worst country in the world for road accidents with almost 30,000 people dying on the roads last year. This alarming statistic is partly what makes Drvr’s business concept so compelling outside of the obvious data insights.

Throughout the interview, it was clear that David and Dana were creating something much bigger than fleet management, but more a change in society and a vision of something bigger. David was a wealth of knowledge and took me back to what it’s like to be in year one of a brand new startup.

Dana, on the other hand, is clearly a thought leader in the tech space and has a very impressive career background. His expertise in “The Internet Of Things,” came across loud and clear, and is obviously a key motivation for him joining Drvr. He regularly speaks at technology conferences, is studying a Ph.D. and has an audience of 53K worth of Twitter followers.

What makes Drvr unique, as a startup is that it started in Australia and then moved to Bangkok in the first year to be closer to the most under-utilised customer-base. While the challenges exist, many of the lessons David & Dana taught me had some unique insight because of the change of locations.

Below are the nine strategies they gave me that you can use in year one of your own startup.

 

1. Frustration in the corporate world is useful in the startup world

If you are just beginning your first startup, then there is a high chance that you have probably left a corporate job of some form to follow your passion. Now in the first year it’s going to be very hard so you will need some pretty strong motivation.

David told me his own corporate story, which was the seed for starting Drvr. While working a corporate job in Australia, he was always getting enquiries from Asian companies trying to solve traffic and fuel stealing issues.

On a number of occasions he took a proposal to the board of his company and recommended that they expand into the region. On many occasions, he was consistently rejected (a key ingredient in successful startups).

He puts the rejection down to the fact that corporates can often be too conservative and even worried about things in a new market such as political risk, lack of understanding of the market, underdevelopment of the country and even corruption.

“Unless we take a few risks as entrepreneurs we won’t be able to succeed in business” – David Henderson

Dana puts the issue down to the suggestion that size can hamper mobility of a company and the bigger they are, the harder it is to pivot and make adjustments. He says, “it’s not that large business is not interested in innovation it’s just that they can’t move quick enough to take advantage of it.”

So David used his frustration in the corporate world as his strategy to join forces and form a startup with his colleagues Damien Williams and Eugene Peresada. So if you were previously working a day job and being told you couldn’t do something, then that’s your motivation for the first year of your startup.

Do you want to go back to being told you can’t do something every day? If not, continue with your startup and keep pivoting your idea until you find a revenue generating market.

 

2. Validate your idea with pilots

The first step to validation is to get feedback from industry professionals about your product or service. Assuming the feedback is good, you can then get your sales people (or you if you don’t have any) to offer pilots to prospective customers

If the customer feedback is positive, then your sales people should then get the clients to sign a contract for your product or service. Once you have customers with recurring revenue each month, then you have essentially proven your concept.

This is the exact strategy Drvr used to prove their startup concept and direction.

 

3. Make tough money decisions

As a startup founder, every day you have to make decisions about things you would like to do but can’t afford to do. In Drvr’s case, they were forced to make decisions like whether to spend money on going to conference, or whether to rent a new office.

Get used to making these tough decisions because the first year will require you only to fund the essential strategies of your startup.

 

4. Sales people are more powerful than marketing

If there was one strategy that came out loud and clear from Dana & David, it was that in the first year of a startup, unless you are focused on the consumer market, marketing should be a low priority. The best strategy that both of them continually recommended was to get sales people that have existing networks to customers you want to do business with.

Drvr has been successful because they have hired great sales people, focused on one clearly defined region to begin with and sold their service – simple. In places like Asia, more so than anywhere else, email is looked at as spam, cold calling doesn’t work and businesses don’t tend to look at Facebook or Newspapers to find services.

Leverage your business development efforts with existing networks before spending any money on marketing to make sales.

 

5. Time your first capital raise

Don’t raise funds immediately. You need to validate your idea first because most startups tend to pivot at least once. For Drvr, they pivoted within the first few months of their launch. If they hadn’t done the pivot, then they would have burnt through their cash.

The initial idea for Drvr was a user behaviour insurance that monitored driver behaviour and sent the data back to the insurance company and the driver. While this feature is still part of the product, it’s not their core offering.

Through their experience of attempting a seed round capital raise, David strongly believes you need to have some traction; otherwise it can become an impossibility to raise money. Now that Drvr has that traction, they are very likely to raise their seed round in the coming months.

 

6. Social enterprise elements drive culture and engagement

A trend that I see more and more, which I also saw with Drvr, is startups having almost a side business in some form of social enterprise. To drive great team culture, Drvr has a major goal of working on projects that have a benefit to the overall society that they serve.

Recently Drvr partnered with another Thai startup to help an off grid school with some much-needed school supplies and help to assess future needs for the school. This gets the Drvr team really excited and gives them a social enterprise element to their business.

How can your startup make an impact and change socially with your community?

If a startup team member’s primary motivation is to make money, then they are in the wrong place at a startup. David says they are better off working in a large organisation where over a five-year period they will probably earn more money.

Using the social enterprise aspect to Drvr, David gets his team to stay engaged by getting them to think of the opportunities they are going to have in advancing their career, being able to make a difference, having a large amount of responsibility and getting to work on some cool projects.

Dana Blouin With Thailand School Kids

Dana Blouin With Thailand School Kids

 

7. Develop a new kind of customer service strategy

By being a Thai startup, Drvr learnt that the expectation of customer service in Asia is much higher than other parts of the world. Asian business expects a startup to not only provide a service but to participate actively in their business. This creates an opportunity for a startup to win a client for the long term.

Asian business taught Drvr that you have to provide them with training and be the one that answers their questions when they need it. These businesses don’t expect to ring a call centre and talk to someone reading off a script.

“This strategy for customer service that Drvr learnt in Asia not only applies to the Asian market,” Dana told me, “it will be the differentiator between successful startups and the ones that fall by the wayside by using call centres and scripts.”

 

8. Attract talent and engage them

Drvr hired one of the first iOS developers in Myanmar Arkar Min Aung who has become a bit of a tech celebrity in the region for his work. What attracted him the most was the opportunity to work with a quality software development team and the chance to learn from Drvr’s co-founder Eugene, who is a very talented back end programmer.

So the lesson we can get from Drvr here is that money is not the only motivation to attract talent. When people get the chance to work with someone they can learn from and whom they respect, this will often outweigh the bias that money can have on attracting talent.

Dana Blouin Drvr Quote On Addicted2Success
When people join your startup team ask them if they have a Plan B. If they are leaving a corporate job then they won’t have a Plan B if they intend on putting everything into Plan, A which will hopefully be your startup.

The same advice should be said for you as the startup founder. Using your own capital to bootstrap a startup means that the only way you will stay motivated in the first year and not second-guess yourself is to have no backup plan. You must lead the team by example.

David & Dana told me that once you attract good talent, there are a number of ways to keep them engaged but that most of all you need to make your startup a place where people want to work.

In the first year, you really need to focus on measuring results and not the hours people work. Your motto should be “there are projects and we need them done, not how many hours did someone work.”

An easy way that Drvr found to attract talent and keep them engaged is to give each team member equity in the business (even if it’s only small), which helps give team members skin in the game. Combine this element with a social enterprise model, and you have a recipe for startup success.

 

9. Outsource basic functions

In year one for Drvr, they have remained very lean and outsourced most of the non-core roles. It’s no secret that being lean in year of your startup will set you up for success. Have all your information stored in the cloud using something easy like Google Apps For Business so you can add new users easily to your startup and allows users to work from anywhere.

For graphic design, try marketplaces like Design Crowd or Fiverr to find freelancers to outsource quickly too – Drvr found someone on Fiverr that ended up becoming their main graphics person. Outsource all your bookkeeping and ideally have someone local review the outsourced work regularly.

Regarding office space, start in a co-working space and scale out until it becomes more cost effective to get your own startup office space. These few little tips will help you stay lean in your first year and ensure you’re in business for year two.

 

***Entrepreneur Quick Tips***

Dana – Entrepreneurship is a beautiful thing and drives a lot of the innovation and creativity that we see in society. It’s not for everyone because it can be stressful and demanding. If you want to take the journey of entrepreneurship, the benefits far outweigh the challenges if you are ready for it.

Flush out your idea first, and validate it. Check if it’s feasible, something the market wants and something that’s economical. If you can answer yes to these things, then there is nothing stopping you from moving forward and making your own success.

David – Entrepreneurship is not an individual endeavour. You can’t do this as a one-man band. Every successful startup is built around a great team of people. Work with people you can trust and rely on and don’t put everything on your own shoulders.

Dana’s Favourite Book’s – “The Hundred Dollar Startup” and “Where Good Ideas Come From”

David’s Favourite Book – The Lean Startup

Visit Drvr’s Website for more information about their company or follow them on Twitter @Drvrapp.

Tim is best known as a long-time contributor on Addicted2Success. Tim's content has been shared millions of times and he has written multiple viral posts all around personal development and entrepreneurship. You can connect with Tim through his website www.timdenning.net

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2 Comments

2 Comments

  1. Nihar Pradhan

    Jan 18, 2016 at 7:16 am

    Entrepreneurship is such a fascinating experience, that it is just not about being able to get passionately attached to one’s idea but also get meaningfully engaged to one’s purpose in life. Starting up in not easy and at the same time all such big things come only after investing good amount of effort and having strong commitment.
    I agree it is not always about the capital, it is more about the idea, the right idea that can solve real problem, solutions that can connect with the consumer experience. It is always a good idea to outsource activities those that are not core to the business venture and focus on the core competency that can always give the competitive advantage…good people makes all the difference, developing the ability to spot talent and seize the fitment is vital to talent sourcing and management.
    Indeed entrepreneurship is a beautiful thing involving a whole world of continuously innovation and playing with creativity and creative people.
    Thanks for the lovely article.

    • Tim Denning

      Feb 6, 2016 at 5:28 am

      Nihar thanks for taking the time to leave an in-depth response. You are on the right track in terms of focusing on the idea and not the capital. I used to think you never outsource anything but now I see things a bit differently.

      Cheers Nihar

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4 Tips to Overcome Your Toughest Hardships When Starting a Business

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Successful entrepreneurs have long been known to embody specific traits that can be very useful in many aspects of life. Some of these traits include hard work, devotion and continuous solid effort. The different skills that entrepreneurs naturally gain through years and years of professional experience, have equipped them to effectively manage and continuously expand their business.

Nonetheless, if we backtrack to the beginning of most entrepreneurs journeys, we see that the majority of them almost always faced professional or personal challenges when first starting a new venture.

Entrepreneurs usually endure professional trials better than anyone else because they were prepared during the early stages of their careers. Yet, the power of perseverance, devotion and quality performance is truly tested when faced with powerful hardships at a personal level.

To provide some context in regards to these hardships, let me ask this question. Would you effectively run your newly established business if within the first three months, you were faced with the fact that a family member was admitted to the hospital, another got divorced after 20 years of marriage, and you were left by the woman you had decided to spend the rest of your life with?

New entrepreneurs can ensure their way to success when involuntarily having overcome personal challenges life has thrown at them. After all, the true measure of an entrepreneur’s character and ability, is in how they handle themselves in the face of adversity or failure.

Below are 4 tips to overcome life hardships when starting a business:

1. Focus on your business

Hard work is an important technique that can help you forget. Focus on your business and daily tasks and you will find yourself momentarily forgetting about the personal issues that may be troubling you.

In other words, all kinds of activities including office work, home chores or small errands will help your mind break the loop you may find yourself in. Not only you will be doing something productive, but you will also get the opportunity to improve your business during this unexpected situation.

“The way to get started is to quit talking and start doing.” – Walt Disney

2. Welcome the support of your friends and family

Being dealt with a bad hand doesn’t mean that there are no people willing to help and support you. Your family and friends are still here and willing to provide you with the emotional comfort and empowerment you need to go through this.

Make sure to contact them on a daily basis and let them know of your thoughts and issues, by becoming a part of their lives and engage in activities together. Participating in social events is a great way to keep your mind busy, meet new people and experience new things.

3. Practice acceptance and let it go

We sometimes find ourselves creating the perfect fantasy where all aspects of our lives are perfect, thus, it may be so difficult to let go of or accept a sudden turn of events. Focus on accepting the situation as is by reflecting on it.

Try meditating, take deep breaths and appreciate the people and things you still have in your life. One day you may find your own explanation as to why these events may have happened.

“In the process of letting go, you will lose many things from the past, but you will find yourself.” – Deepak Chopra

4. Read on a daily basis

Reading can provide an abundance of mental health benefits including stress relief, anxiety reduction, knowledge increase, and improved focus and concentration. Similarly to focusing on your business, reading can help you to briefly forget about personal issues while learning something new.

With reading, you will be able to develop different perspectives which can help you better evaluate life, self-reflect and even perceive everything from a different viewpoint.

Regardless of the techniques you choose to follow when life throws personal hardships at you, it’s important to remember that this is not an overnight achievement. Nevertheless, you can focus all your efforts on getting on with your life and continuously improving yourself.

How have you overcome hardships in your life? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!

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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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How You Can Effectively Achieve Your Goals by Using the Puzzle Analogy

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Image Credit: Twenty20.com

I was building a 500 piece puzzle the other day with many tiny little pieces. When I opened the box, I was completely overwhelmed. There were so many pieces and many of them were very similar in color. I took a breath and thought “just do one piece at a time”. I knew that I had to come up with a plan and organize the pieces into groups before I got started. This helped me to focus and take away some of the overwhelming feelings that were coming up. I came up with a plan and executed that plan. (more…)

Meghan Olsgard is the creator and writer of www.infinitesoulblueprint.com where she writes articles about self-empowerment and creating a fulfilling life. She shares her personal experiences and the obstacles she has overcame to help and inspire others to do the same. You can get more information at her website or follow her on Facebook.

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2 Comments

2 Comments

  1. Nihar Pradhan

    Jan 18, 2016 at 7:16 am

    Entrepreneurship is such a fascinating experience, that it is just not about being able to get passionately attached to one’s idea but also get meaningfully engaged to one’s purpose in life. Starting up in not easy and at the same time all such big things come only after investing good amount of effort and having strong commitment.
    I agree it is not always about the capital, it is more about the idea, the right idea that can solve real problem, solutions that can connect with the consumer experience. It is always a good idea to outsource activities those that are not core to the business venture and focus on the core competency that can always give the competitive advantage…good people makes all the difference, developing the ability to spot talent and seize the fitment is vital to talent sourcing and management.
    Indeed entrepreneurship is a beautiful thing involving a whole world of continuously innovation and playing with creativity and creative people.
    Thanks for the lovely article.

    • Tim Denning

      Feb 6, 2016 at 5:28 am

      Nihar thanks for taking the time to leave an in-depth response. You are on the right track in terms of focusing on the idea and not the capital. I used to think you never outsource anything but now I see things a bit differently.

      Cheers Nihar

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Startups

4 Tips to Overcome Your Toughest Hardships When Starting a Business

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Successful entrepreneurs have long been known to embody specific traits that can be very useful in many aspects of life. Some of these traits include hard work, devotion and continuous solid effort. The different skills that entrepreneurs naturally gain through years and years of professional experience, have equipped them to effectively manage and continuously expand their business.

Nonetheless, if we backtrack to the beginning of most entrepreneurs journeys, we see that the majority of them almost always faced professional or personal challenges when first starting a new venture.

Entrepreneurs usually endure professional trials better than anyone else because they were prepared during the early stages of their careers. Yet, the power of perseverance, devotion and quality performance is truly tested when faced with powerful hardships at a personal level.

To provide some context in regards to these hardships, let me ask this question. Would you effectively run your newly established business if within the first three months, you were faced with the fact that a family member was admitted to the hospital, another got divorced after 20 years of marriage, and you were left by the woman you had decided to spend the rest of your life with?

New entrepreneurs can ensure their way to success when involuntarily having overcome personal challenges life has thrown at them. After all, the true measure of an entrepreneur’s character and ability, is in how they handle themselves in the face of adversity or failure.

Below are 4 tips to overcome life hardships when starting a business:

1. Focus on your business

Hard work is an important technique that can help you forget. Focus on your business and daily tasks and you will find yourself momentarily forgetting about the personal issues that may be troubling you.

In other words, all kinds of activities including office work, home chores or small errands will help your mind break the loop you may find yourself in. Not only you will be doing something productive, but you will also get the opportunity to improve your business during this unexpected situation.

“The way to get started is to quit talking and start doing.” – Walt Disney

2. Welcome the support of your friends and family

Being dealt with a bad hand doesn’t mean that there are no people willing to help and support you. Your family and friends are still here and willing to provide you with the emotional comfort and empowerment you need to go through this.

Make sure to contact them on a daily basis and let them know of your thoughts and issues, by becoming a part of their lives and engage in activities together. Participating in social events is a great way to keep your mind busy, meet new people and experience new things.

3. Practice acceptance and let it go

We sometimes find ourselves creating the perfect fantasy where all aspects of our lives are perfect, thus, it may be so difficult to let go of or accept a sudden turn of events. Focus on accepting the situation as is by reflecting on it.

Try meditating, take deep breaths and appreciate the people and things you still have in your life. One day you may find your own explanation as to why these events may have happened.

“In the process of letting go, you will lose many things from the past, but you will find yourself.” – Deepak Chopra

4. Read on a daily basis

Reading can provide an abundance of mental health benefits including stress relief, anxiety reduction, knowledge increase, and improved focus and concentration. Similarly to focusing on your business, reading can help you to briefly forget about personal issues while learning something new.

With reading, you will be able to develop different perspectives which can help you better evaluate life, self-reflect and even perceive everything from a different viewpoint.

Regardless of the techniques you choose to follow when life throws personal hardships at you, it’s important to remember that this is not an overnight achievement. Nevertheless, you can focus all your efforts on getting on with your life and continuously improving yourself.

How have you overcome hardships in your life? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!

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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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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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