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The 10 Biggest Small Business Startup Mistakes & How You Can Avoid Them

Joel Brown (Founder of Addicted2Success.com)

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Startup Mistakes

Mistakes made can be our greatest teacher, so the best startup advice comes from the first-hand knowledge of what not to do. We spoke to some business owners who shared their hard-earned experience and the insight they gained from their own lapses in judgment.

If you’re looking to get your business off the ground, consider these following pitfalls.

 

The 10 What Not To Do’s When Starting Your New Business

 

#1: Not Anticipating Your Customers’ Potential Needs

If you decided to open up a cake business, did you even consider that a good number of your future customers will also need to have the goods delivered to them as well?

Many businesses entail additional needs aside from their core product or service. If you can’t provide this yourself, coordinate with a third party to make your respective services a seamless package for your clients.

Taking the time to plan ahead will add to customer satisfaction and avoid headaches before they happen.

 

#2: Jumping The Gun

Although skimping on the essentials (e.g. a reliable computer) is a no-no, it’s dangerous to squander all of your resources at once. Allow yourself enough time to make the inevitable mistakes that will help you refine your business plan.

Give your business time to evolve organically and hold off on spending too much capital in the beginning. In the long run, you’ll need the financial leverage to make the necessary adjustments after you’ve experienced the hands-on feel of your business.

 

#3: Not Having A Unique Selling Point

Surprisingly, an alarming number of new business owners ignore this piece of startup advice. Everything starts with a vague idea, but you won’t get far if you haven’t refined exactly what you want your business to do.

To help you with this, think of the top three problems that your product or service solves. Being very specific about these fundamental goals adds clarity to your business goals and focuses your limited resources in the right direction.

 

#4 Starting Without An Online Presence

This one here could be the #1 mistake moving forward in the future of business. Nearly every company out there nowadays have some sort of an online presence whether it be a Facebook page, Twitter account, website or domain name & e-mail. If you have none of the before mentioned then you have made it incredibly hard to be found by the rest of the world.

We are in the age of silicon business, where most people shop online, google for company contacts and e-mail instead of picking up the phone. If you have not even considered being part of the online world, you will be left behind as most competition understands that the eye balls have shifted from hard copy Yellow Pages to search engines and mobile internet access.

Even if you have drummed up enough interest in your startup, you also need to be prepared when word gets around and people beyond your network start looking you up online.

 

#5: Relying On One Client

In a perfect world, every customer you acquire will remain loyal to the end, but everyone knows how fickle-minded they can be.

Are you prepared when your “cash cow” suddenly leaves you for greener pastures? Try to keep your eyes open for other clients who can bring in solid business.

 

#6: Believing The Flexible Hours Myth

When your business already has some considerable momentum going and you’ve gone past the growing pains, you’ll eventually be able to work less hours.

When you’re still starting out however, this really isn’t an option just yet. Remember, the amount of time you invest in your startup is just as valuable as the monetary capital needed to make the business grow.

The reality is that you’ll probably need to put in longer hours than your employees in the beginning. Until things have settled down a bit, you may want to hold off on your dreams of working four days a week.

 

#7: Being A Control Freak

Learn the importance of delegation. Although we said that you need to put in the hours to make your business grow, that doesn’t mean you should do all the work. In many ways, you need to see things from an eagle-eye perspective and appropriate the right staff to make whole machinery work.

Furthermore, don’t hog the decision-making process to yourself. Get your staff involved and collaborate ideas. Like they say, there’s more than one way to skin a cat.

 

#8: Ignoring Your Customers

What kills most business startups is simple ignorance of consumer feedback. Bear in mind that one of the most basic goals of any business is to help your customers achieve their dream scenario.

So, it’s important to consider these questions: is my company moving towards or away from this goal? Am I asking my customers for feedback so I can improve potential parts of my business and am I engaging with the public to find out their needs and how we can best supply them with our service.

Setting up a system that helps you answer these question from time to time is the closest thing to having a crystal ball that will help you see a bright and potentially strong future.

 

#9: Not Having Enough Nerve

More than a few owners have claimed that the best way to build a startup is by using other people’s money and none of their own.

This startup advice might be too extreme for you, but you can apply this in a more realistic way. For instance, your web programmer cousin could build your website for free; maybe your best friend who happens to be a lawyer will be happy to lend a hand with the legal paperwork.

Don’t be afraid to pull some strings or call in some favors. Chances are, your family and friends will be more than happy to offer their support – and it doesn’t always have to be the monetary kind. But you’ll never know if you don’t ask!

 

#10: Not Knowing Your Market

Who exactly are you targeting? Tech-savvy computer users? Other business owners interested in results and not data? Web-challenged homeowners who need your caring guidance?

Zeroing in on your niche is a must because your marketing and all other business operations will depend on this key aspect. By having a crystal-clear idea of who you’re selling to, you can further sharpen your unique selling point (see # 3) and give your customers what they want.

 

Every business owner wants to be their own boss, so heeding sensible startup advice will help you enjoy the benefits of entrepreneurship and avoid the typical mistakes that will slow you down.

 

Article By Joel Brown | Addicted2Success.com

I am the the Founder of Addicted2Success.com and I am so grateful you're here to be part of this awesome community. I love connecting with people who have a passion for Entrepreneurship, Self Development & Achieving Success. I started this website with the intention of educating and inspiring likeminded people to always strive for success no matter what their circumstances. I'm proud to say through my podcast and through this website we have impacted over 100 million lives in the last 6 and a half years.

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11 Comments

11 Comments

  1. David

    Mar 8, 2016 at 12:26 pm

    Completely agree with these startup mistakes.

    These are the most common startup mistakes which almost every startup founder is making. There are so many common startup mistakes including:

    1. Having only one founder
    2. Launching too early
    3. Spending too much

    These 3 mistakes are very much common.

    If any startup has only one founder then they are more likely to fail because one single person can’t be able to handle all aspects.

    Having multiple founders helps find different solutions when you have any kind of problem because different brains think differently and generate different ideas.

    Some people launch their startups too early even if they aren’t ready for it. So It is not good.

    And people also spend too much money after starting their startup in order to generate instant result which isn’t good either. They just have to keep calm and work hard.

    I am glad that you have listed all the major mistakes here. So Thanks for sharing it. 😀

  2. Shunmuga

    Nov 16, 2015 at 6:51 am

    Thanks Joel for this great article. I become a die hard fan of Addicted2Success for a year and so and you are doing great. I follow Addicted2Success on both FB and Twitter.

    This is really a great article . May be I read it late but I read it at right time. I am planning to start a small business in my city to BE MY OWN BOSS but I struggle to do it because I am working in a Corporate and I desparate to lose my default earnings. And I get no mental support from my family to start a new business on my own.

    They are afraid of the risks involved and they are not willing to leave my job. But I still have hope and get a great motivation and support from Addicted2Success through all your articles and inspired day to day.

    Hope I start my new small business soon. 🙂

  3. Shelley

    Mar 7, 2013 at 6:55 pm

    Great tips! I need to go back reread #7.

  4. Chris Enderby

    Jan 5, 2013 at 10:44 pm

    Wow what a great article, simply laying out the common mistakes that we as leaders so often overlook. Talking about Internet marketing, I see it all the time with new business’s neglecting the great and wonderful world of the Internet. If your not on the net, statistics show that you will loose 54% of potential customers, wow that matters!!

  5. Dora

    Jan 5, 2013 at 10:18 pm

    One of the best decisions I’ve made this far is following this account on Twitter. I’ve learned so much within a matter of days. Thank you.

    • Joel

      Joel

      Jan 6, 2013 at 10:30 am

      Great to hear Dora, thank you for letting us know that 🙂

      Hey Chris, thanks for those Stats, that definitely shows how much the internet really matters to your business.

  6. Shirley Mansfield

    Dec 4, 2012 at 3:58 pm

    Great reminders for us all as each point is just as valid for an existing business as they are for a start-up.

    My number 11 would be ‘Not Knowing Where you Are Going!’

  7. Dave Kot

    Jun 4, 2012 at 2:14 pm

    Thanks so much for creating a great ToDo list- this information is a great reminder to me, and a grand refresher to keep my business in line now!

  8. Build Seo

    Apr 16, 2012 at 11:16 pm

    I think there are going to be mistakes anytime a business is started but some mistakes can b detrimental to success. I was a controll freak when I first started my business and that is something I am still working on.

    Businesses starting without an online presence is the whole reason I started my Internet marketing business.

  9. Julia

    Mar 23, 2012 at 7:26 am

    Great article! I just realized that I don’t have clear understanding what are the three problems my business solves. Makes me think about it.

  10. EntreVille.ca

    Mar 20, 2012 at 3:10 am

    I sooo agree with #4, that BUSINESSES MUST HAVE AN ONLINE PRESENCE! The first thing I do when I come across a new business is check out their website and I get very frustrated these days when restuarants don’t have a website with a menu on it! How can I order from you if I don’t know what you have. come on I’m hungry here! 😉

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Startups

10 Things The Corporate World *Didn’t* Teach Me

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I’ve just left the corporate world. It’s been seven years and I don’t regret a single second of it.

You’d think I would have learned everything there is to know about business in the corporate world. I didn’t.

There were a lot of gaps which I luckily was able to fill in during my entrepreneur days.

Here’s what the corporate world didn’t teach me:


1. How to think for myself

In the corporate world, you’re often told what to do.

If you don’t have the answer then some smart person, in some department will probably have the answer for you. The answer may not be the latest and greatest strategy, but it will be based on some prior knowledge.

As an entrepreneur, none of this was available to me. I’d roll up to the old Milkbar that was our office, and I’d start stacking boxes into the little van we had. More boxes of soft drink and chips meant more gold coins in our vending machines.

Gold coins could be banked at our local branch at the end of the day and that’s how petrol, electricity, uniforms and the occasional Macca’s dinner was paid for. No one told me how to do that.

I either collected the gold coins, or I didn’t. No gold coins meant game over. As an entrepreneur, that meant failure and during your 20’s that’s often the last thing you want.

Thinking for myself wasn’t taught to me it was a survival tactic. I took this tactic with me to the corporate world and people were surprised.

As my former colleague said to me the other day You don’t overthink Tim youjust get shit done while everybody else is scratching their head.


2. Time management

The corporate world is full of big companies with lots of resources.

With an abundance of anything you always have wastage. The corporate world definitely didn’t tell me how to manage time.

What could have been a five-minute phone conversation often ended up in huge email chains. It was a bit of a game.

“Every email involved another person or persons being cc’d. The ultimate trick was to blind cc people within your company. Like magic, bombs start going off and no one can work out who did what. That’s the power of BCC”

None of this was good for time management though. Lot’s of time was spent trying to communicate with one another. Meetings are a thing in the corporate world.

Every problem that exists must have a meeting. Even if it’s about whether we call the shared folder “Sales” or “Customer Files” a meeting had to be held.

Meetings in the corporate world not only suck up time but are also a fashion parade where all the biggest egos can strut their stuff.

“I’m more important and have a better job title.”

“No, I’m more important!”

This dialogue goes on for days and sometimes months. Understanding the politics is often more critical than understanding the business. Still, none of this is good for time.

The time wasted is used by the tech startup opposition to improve a bug, rethink the customer experience or out-market corporates using social media.


3. A passion for what you love

Passion in the corporate world can often be lacking. Working at a corporate for many is a way to pay the bills rather than do their life’s work.

Passion can often be traded for money, bonuses and even more impressive job titles — all of which leave you feeling more empty”

It’s not all full of zero passion, though. There are a few people that are insanely passionate and those folk shine through.

The corporate world taught me to put my passion on hold rather than use it to WOW customers with the very thing that sets me apart.


4. What people are really buying

Working at a corporate taught me that it’s all about marketing.

I knew, though, from the startup world that this very idea was wrong.

People are buying you. They’re buying the people they deal with and what those people stand for.

No client in my corporate career ever gave a damn about the commoditized products I was selling. All of my clients gave a damn about my obsession to inspire the world through personal development and entrepreneurship. They were intrigued by my five years as an entrepreneur and what I learned.

This led to customers becoming friends as opposed to people that bought widgets from me and had the money they laid tracked in a CRM as ‘revenue.’

Not once in my corporate career did I have something to sell that couldn’t be bought from somewhere else, at a lower price or with better product features. The product feature my clients bought was me


5. The power of an audience

People are often too afraid to be vulnerable in the corporate world.

I never learned the power of an audience during my career working in corporates. All of that was learned between 6 pm and 8 pm every night when I was at home from work posting on LinkedIn.

Social media is not so prominent in the corporate world because it requires you to remove the corporate mask and show your flaws. Fakeness on social channels like LinkedIn just doesn’t work. People don’t engage.

Many people told me that the audience I was building on social media was career suicide. I ignored every one of them and I’m so glad I did.

These same people that warned me to stay off social media are the same ones asking me now to help them with their own social accounts.

With an audience, you can test ideas.

With an audience, you can inspire.

With an audience, you can recruit people to your team.

With an audience, you derive meaning for your life.


6. Doing the important vs. the mediocre

In corporate business, there’s a lot of noise.

Everything looks important. Everything looks like it could become a lawsuit (especially for a corporate). Everything looks like it could become a PR scandal. Everything looks risky to that next job promotion and to the business.

That’s where mediocrity thrives. With so much noise it’s easy to spend your days filing bits of paper or moving widgets from Point A to Point B without having any clue of why you’re doing it or how it contributes to humankind.

I didn’t learn the discipline of doing the important work in corporate life.

Doing the important came out of the entrepreneurial trait of problem-solving through a vision. It came from wanting to see things better than they are.

Doing the important was fuelled by a desire to achieve a goal that everybody said wasn’t possible. It’s a rebellious philosophy that pushes mediocrity the hell out of the way.


7. The way to have a meeting (ideally no meeting)

Running a meeting in corporate life follows a formula.

This formula will put almost all attendees to sleep. It’s why when you walk into a corporate board meeting, most of the execs are looking at their phone rather than paying attention to who’s speaking.

The formula goes like this:

  • Introduce everybody in the meeting (most don’t need to be there)
  • Pretend there’s an agenda (it will get hijacked…guaranteed)
  • Pretend to solve the problem by agreeing to invite more people to a future meeting
  • Pass ownership around of the problem whilst ignoring the potential solutions
  • Assigning action items which everybody ignores (thus triggering another meeting)

“The best way to have a meeting is not to have a meeting”

Meetings are needed in the corporate world because of a lack of trust and having too many cooks in the kitchen.

Have only the people that can solve the problem in the meeting, make it short and trust in the outcome and vision you’re trying to achieve.

That very philosophy makes meetings for the most part irrelevant.


8. How to make better PowerPoint presentations

You’d think with all the PowerPoints you have to do in the corporate world to educate internal stakeholders, you’d be a freaking expert at doing them.

Quite the opposite is true.

Because of the number of PowerPoint decks you have to do in the corporate world, you get worse at them.

The decks get longer, filled with more words, more acronyms and more promises to take more action.

It’s like for every year in the corporate world you add another acronym to the sentence you’re currently writing.

The belief in the corporate world is that all problems must first begin their life in a PowerPoint.

No problem can be solved without a PowerPoint. I once tried to do a presentation with only one slide. Once I explained the one slide I had prepared with a simple diagram that a four-year-old watching Peppa Pig could understand, I then blacked out the screen.

I wanted the attention on what I was saying instead of some Times New Roman, white slide, with Size 12 Font that nobody could read.

Death by PowerPoint is a real cause of death in the corporate world. It kills dreams, ideas, free speech and the will to live.


9. The way to treat people

The corporate world taught me nothing about how to treat people.

Treating people well came from my eBay days where I learned that if you give someone on eBay the thing they want, and do what you say, you’ll get what you want.

This philosophy didn’t translate into corporate life. I was told to treat people well based on what they could do for me. If they couldn’t do anything for me then what’s the point of knowing them? Right?

Wrong.

The people I treated well who seemed to have no benefit to me ended up becoming the Managers, General Managers and Inspiring Leaders five years down the road.

By not asking for stuff all the time, by treating these future leaders with respect and by being as close to a good human being as I could be, I got all the promotions and all the hard to reach opportunities.

My career in the corporate world looked like it was entirely built by luck. It wasn’t. My corporate career was built on respect, honesty and treating people well because it makes sense in the long run.


10. The true meaning of startup buzzwords

Lean startup. Agile. Disruptive. Act like a startup. Minimum viable product.

We hear these words every day in the startup and tech world. Every corporate is trying to adopt them as their own. I didn’t see any of these buzzwords in my corporate career ever be used successfully.

Lean startup meant Throw seven figures at it and see if it swims. If not, kill it fast!”

Agile meant plan the next five years of a new product, try to deal with every possible situation in the beginning and invite some management consultants.

Act like a startup meant adopt the word but still be a corporate because a sizeable business always knows best.

Minimum viable product meant fix every customer pain point in existence and build the mother of all solutions that’s going to take years to build and leave all competitors for dead. Let’s not fix one thing when we can fix everything thus fixing nothing in the process.


So what can you learn from the corporate world?

It’s not all bad. Park my humor for just one second. You can learn plenty in the corporate world and it’s not all bad.

The corporate world can teach you:

1. Leadership fundamentals

2. Corporate decision-making

3. Community values

4. The rate of technology disruption

The corporate world in some ways shows you what the past looks like so you can build the future. It shows you that size does not necessarily mean better results or more improved solutions.

What I’ve outlined above comes from dealing with hundreds of corporates over the last seven years and the commonalities around how they think.


The grass is not greener.

The corporate world sure has its problems. So does the startup world. So does medium sized business as well.

All business just has a different set of problems to solve.

The way to deal with this conundrum is to become an expert problem solver who enjoys the challenge. It’s not always easy to do.

The business world can get you down and suck the life out of you.

That’s why you need to take a break and get some perspective. Try small, medium and big business for yourself and make your own assessment.

The grass may be longer, shorter or in need of a mow but it’s definitely not greener.

<<<>>>

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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How to Change Your Bad Habits for the Benefit of Your Business

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If you are like most people, you probably like to complain from time to time about the economy, about the markets, about how things are changing too fast or how you don’t get enough time. Moan moan moan!

However, moaning doesn’t solve problems. Instead, you can follow the “No BCD” theory and avoid blaming, complaining and defensiveness. This way you will have a totally different outlook, handle situations a lot better, and take control over your destiny. A really practical way to do this is to develop better habits.

What are the bad habits you have?

Everyone has different bad habits, but when it comes to business here are the 4 most common ones:

  • Lack of focus: Every single day, there are going to be things you intend to do and then you “run out of time” or succumb to distractions. But if you’re honest, you had the time and there was a way – you just lacked focus.
  • You’re too kind: How many times have you taken on a project which wasn’t profitable, because you “felt sorry for them”. Not only does this actually hurt you, but it also in many ways hurts the relationship you have with that client or customer.
  • Promising and not delivering: Whether it’s something you said to your team, your clients, or your suppliers, if you’re not matching your words with your actions, over time others will believe you less and less.
  • Leaving opportunities on the table: So often people complain in business they don’t have enough (money/sales/support), when actually they do – they just didn’t ask for it. Within your existing network there is probably everything you need, you just have to ask.

“Successful people are simply those with successful habits.” – Brian Tracy

Think about it. You can look at each of these bad habits and replace them with new and better ones. Imagine…

  • If you created habits that made you focus better: you’d be more productive, with the same amount of time.
  • If you learned good ways to set boundaries: you’d have a better time delivering your services or products, and you’d feel more rewarded.
  • If you kept better track of your promises: You’d feel less stressed and overwhelmed.
  • If you picked up on more of those opportunities: You’d make more money, and inject welcome energy into those who are ready and willing to work with you. The side effect would be that you could delegate things you don’t love and aren’t good at to others more capable, and replace those activities with the things you love!

Breaking those bad habits

Over the years, I have managed to create more boundaries and space for me to be efficient and effective in my work. There are ways to do that  – some habits I have learned from others who have experienced and overcome similar issues, and some are the product of my own experiments. See below!

1. Sprints (for productivity)

I have to say this is so effective. I meet at least one other person at a coffee shop or members club – if it’s not in my office with my fellow team members. We plan to do 30 or 45 minutes of work and do between 3-5 sprints in a session. Blocking out 4 hours together I find works well.

We each say what we will work on and then we get going. No talking allowed, focusing only on the task we talked about. When the timer rings we stop, compare notes on progress, have a mini break and do another one. It’s honestly my most productive time, and it makes you realise how much time we waste on distractions and even moaning about having too much work on!

“A bad habit never disappears miraculously. It’s an undo-it-yourself project.” – Abigail Van Buren

2. A tiny assignment (for motivation to break a bad habit)

I have done this now twice with 2 different friends. We talk about the bad habits we each have, whatever they might be. We give each other a new rule or habit to follow over a two week period. It has to be a “SMART” goal assignment – specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-bound.

3. Low hanging fruit (for grabbing opportunities)

You simply make a list of people you already know who:

  • Fit into your target market but don’t work with you yet
  • Fit into your target market but haven’t worked with you for a while
  • Experience problems you know you can solve
  • Have their own network of contacts or audience which is very similar to the people you want to talk about
  • Have the expertise in things you find challenging, and very likely the answers to your current challenges

Once you have this list, you come up with some drafted initial outreach scripts for either text, email or phone calls and then you work through your list – sending out the requests, hellos, questions, etc. If you draft your communication well, considering the mindset of the people who are receiving these outreach messages, you will find each conversation will be at the very least a learning opportunity and would certainly lead to more “yeses” than if you didn’t do this exercise.

4. The minimum criteria (for setting boundaries)

If you find that your bad habits involve you saying “yes” too often when you should be saying “no” – then this one works great. You just need to write a specific list of criteria to answer the question “Any time I will do this, I need the following things to be true first”.

For example, you only take on a client who pays less than a certain minimum threshold, who has made a written commitment that they will comply with your specific set of guidelines for their responsibilities during the project. There are so many ways you can use the “minimum criteria” technique and you can share your rules with friends and colleagues to hold yourself accountable.

Now, with all this insight I hope you feel more motivated and you can’t even remember your excuses anymore!

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The Advantages and Disadvantages of Starting a Business in College

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College is a time of opportunity. Students are given a chance to learn a variety of new skills and to put those skills to use. One way to do this is to start a business. Starting a business isn’t something you should jump into without careful consideration, though. You need to take a look at what you stand to gain from it and what negative aspects come from starting a business are.

Sole Proprietorship or Partnership

The first distinction that needs to be made when you start a business is what kind of business it’s going to be. Will you be the sole owner? Will someone else be co-owning with you? If it is the former, this is referred to as a sole proprietorship. The advantages of this type of business are the fact that they are easy to start up and close if need be as well as giving the owner the flexibility of being their boss. Owners of this type also retain all profits earned.

There are downsides to this type of ownership. The biggest one is that the owner has unlimited liability. In other words, if the business fails, struggles, or falls into debt, it’s entirely on the owner.

On the other hand, if a student wanted to start a business with a friend, they could go into it as a partnership where each person holds a certain level of responsibility for the company. For one, two students starting a business can pool their resources and knowledge. Unfortunately, the development of a partnership doesn’t take away the idea of unlimited responsibility for the owners if they are general – meaning equal – partners.

“Never start a business just to make money. Start a business to make a difference.” – Marie Forleo

A Chance to Do Something Important to You

When a student is in college, they might end up taking whatever job they can to make ends meet. After all, the price of college is high, and many college students work entry-level jobs. It means that the posts you work at the start of your career might not be the ones that you are passionate about.

Owning a business, on the other hand, gives you more freedom. This is because a student’s business can be revolved around anything they are knowledgeable about. It gives them a chance to find their passion and profit off of it while having a job that they love.

The opposing side to this is that college students do work on lower funds than someone who has settled into a career further down the road and has savings built up from that. It means that for a student, start-up costs can be a little more challenging to reach.

The silver lining to that train of thought is that college students are only starting their career. They don’t have to worry about leaving a job that they’ve been working on for decades to take a risk and start their own business.

It Takes Dedication

Starting a firm, as we’ve pointed out, isn’t something that you do on a whim. The owner has to be dedicated to the business to have a successful company. It can be difficult at first because many people start their own business with the idea that they will create their hours. The truth is that you will probably find yourself working overtime and doing every menial task that the company needs to be done at first

It is mainly because you will be starting out on your own. Even if you have a partner, you won’t have employees to start out so there won’t be many delegations of tasks. If you are genuinely passionate about a topic, you will be able to find the dedication it takes to get your business off the ground. Remember, as the company grows, you’ll be able to hire more help – if the industry is a success, all responsibilities won’t fall on the owner forever.

“Don’t wait for the right moment to start a business. It never arrives. Start whenever.” – Lauris Liberts

Leadership

We already looked at the fact that owning a business means that you are in charge of all the goings on within your business. As such, this is an excellent opportunity to show your skills as a leader. If you don’t have strong leadership skills, this is a great chance to develop them fast because, without them, you will be watching your business go under.

Leadership doesn’t just mean organizing teams and delegating tasks. You will also have to take responsibility for less desirable functions within your business. For instance, as the owner, it is your job to fire someone when it comes time to let them go. It isn’t a job that anyone wants, but it is a task that needs to be done to keep a business running smoothly.

It all boils down to risk and reward. Starting and owning a business in college is something that can bring you a lot of good as well as a lot of bad. If you want a company to succeed, you have to consider both sides of this and decide if starting a business in college is the right choice for you.

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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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Startups

10 Things The Corporate World *Didn’t* Teach Me

Published

on

Image Credit: Unsplash

I’ve just left the corporate world. It’s been seven years and I don’t regret a single second of it.

You’d think I would have learned everything there is to know about business in the corporate world. I didn’t.

There were a lot of gaps which I luckily was able to fill in during my entrepreneur days.

Here’s what the corporate world didn’t teach me:


1. How to think for myself

In the corporate world, you’re often told what to do.

If you don’t have the answer then some smart person, in some department will probably have the answer for you. The answer may not be the latest and greatest strategy, but it will be based on some prior knowledge.

As an entrepreneur, none of this was available to me. I’d roll up to the old Milkbar that was our office, and I’d start stacking boxes into the little van we had. More boxes of soft drink and chips meant more gold coins in our vending machines.

Gold coins could be banked at our local branch at the end of the day and that’s how petrol, electricity, uniforms and the occasional Macca’s dinner was paid for. No one told me how to do that.

I either collected the gold coins, or I didn’t. No gold coins meant game over. As an entrepreneur, that meant failure and during your 20’s that’s often the last thing you want.

Thinking for myself wasn’t taught to me it was a survival tactic. I took this tactic with me to the corporate world and people were surprised.

As my former colleague said to me the other day You don’t overthink Tim youjust get shit done while everybody else is scratching their head.


2. Time management

The corporate world is full of big companies with lots of resources.

With an abundance of anything you always have wastage. The corporate world definitely didn’t tell me how to manage time.

What could have been a five-minute phone conversation often ended up in huge email chains. It was a bit of a game.

“Every email involved another person or persons being cc’d. The ultimate trick was to blind cc people within your company. Like magic, bombs start going off and no one can work out who did what. That’s the power of BCC”

None of this was good for time management though. Lot’s of time was spent trying to communicate with one another. Meetings are a thing in the corporate world.

Every problem that exists must have a meeting. Even if it’s about whether we call the shared folder “Sales” or “Customer Files” a meeting had to be held.

Meetings in the corporate world not only suck up time but are also a fashion parade where all the biggest egos can strut their stuff.

“I’m more important and have a better job title.”

“No, I’m more important!”

This dialogue goes on for days and sometimes months. Understanding the politics is often more critical than understanding the business. Still, none of this is good for time.

The time wasted is used by the tech startup opposition to improve a bug, rethink the customer experience or out-market corporates using social media.


3. A passion for what you love

Passion in the corporate world can often be lacking. Working at a corporate for many is a way to pay the bills rather than do their life’s work.

Passion can often be traded for money, bonuses and even more impressive job titles — all of which leave you feeling more empty”

It’s not all full of zero passion, though. There are a few people that are insanely passionate and those folk shine through.

The corporate world taught me to put my passion on hold rather than use it to WOW customers with the very thing that sets me apart.


4. What people are really buying

Working at a corporate taught me that it’s all about marketing.

I knew, though, from the startup world that this very idea was wrong.

People are buying you. They’re buying the people they deal with and what those people stand for.

No client in my corporate career ever gave a damn about the commoditized products I was selling. All of my clients gave a damn about my obsession to inspire the world through personal development and entrepreneurship. They were intrigued by my five years as an entrepreneur and what I learned.

This led to customers becoming friends as opposed to people that bought widgets from me and had the money they laid tracked in a CRM as ‘revenue.’

Not once in my corporate career did I have something to sell that couldn’t be bought from somewhere else, at a lower price or with better product features. The product feature my clients bought was me


5. The power of an audience

People are often too afraid to be vulnerable in the corporate world.

I never learned the power of an audience during my career working in corporates. All of that was learned between 6 pm and 8 pm every night when I was at home from work posting on LinkedIn.

Social media is not so prominent in the corporate world because it requires you to remove the corporate mask and show your flaws. Fakeness on social channels like LinkedIn just doesn’t work. People don’t engage.

Many people told me that the audience I was building on social media was career suicide. I ignored every one of them and I’m so glad I did.

These same people that warned me to stay off social media are the same ones asking me now to help them with their own social accounts.

With an audience, you can test ideas.

With an audience, you can inspire.

With an audience, you can recruit people to your team.

With an audience, you derive meaning for your life.


6. Doing the important vs. the mediocre

In corporate business, there’s a lot of noise.

Everything looks important. Everything looks like it could become a lawsuit (especially for a corporate). Everything looks like it could become a PR scandal. Everything looks risky to that next job promotion and to the business.

That’s where mediocrity thrives. With so much noise it’s easy to spend your days filing bits of paper or moving widgets from Point A to Point B without having any clue of why you’re doing it or how it contributes to humankind.

I didn’t learn the discipline of doing the important work in corporate life.

Doing the important came out of the entrepreneurial trait of problem-solving through a vision. It came from wanting to see things better than they are.

Doing the important was fuelled by a desire to achieve a goal that everybody said wasn’t possible. It’s a rebellious philosophy that pushes mediocrity the hell out of the way.


7. The way to have a meeting (ideally no meeting)

Running a meeting in corporate life follows a formula.

This formula will put almost all attendees to sleep. It’s why when you walk into a corporate board meeting, most of the execs are looking at their phone rather than paying attention to who’s speaking.

The formula goes like this:

  • Introduce everybody in the meeting (most don’t need to be there)
  • Pretend there’s an agenda (it will get hijacked…guaranteed)
  • Pretend to solve the problem by agreeing to invite more people to a future meeting
  • Pass ownership around of the problem whilst ignoring the potential solutions
  • Assigning action items which everybody ignores (thus triggering another meeting)

“The best way to have a meeting is not to have a meeting”

Meetings are needed in the corporate world because of a lack of trust and having too many cooks in the kitchen.

Have only the people that can solve the problem in the meeting, make it short and trust in the outcome and vision you’re trying to achieve.

That very philosophy makes meetings for the most part irrelevant.


8. How to make better PowerPoint presentations

You’d think with all the PowerPoints you have to do in the corporate world to educate internal stakeholders, you’d be a freaking expert at doing them.

Quite the opposite is true.

Because of the number of PowerPoint decks you have to do in the corporate world, you get worse at them.

The decks get longer, filled with more words, more acronyms and more promises to take more action.

It’s like for every year in the corporate world you add another acronym to the sentence you’re currently writing.

The belief in the corporate world is that all problems must first begin their life in a PowerPoint.

No problem can be solved without a PowerPoint. I once tried to do a presentation with only one slide. Once I explained the one slide I had prepared with a simple diagram that a four-year-old watching Peppa Pig could understand, I then blacked out the screen.

I wanted the attention on what I was saying instead of some Times New Roman, white slide, with Size 12 Font that nobody could read.

Death by PowerPoint is a real cause of death in the corporate world. It kills dreams, ideas, free speech and the will to live.


9. The way to treat people

The corporate world taught me nothing about how to treat people.

Treating people well came from my eBay days where I learned that if you give someone on eBay the thing they want, and do what you say, you’ll get what you want.

This philosophy didn’t translate into corporate life. I was told to treat people well based on what they could do for me. If they couldn’t do anything for me then what’s the point of knowing them? Right?

Wrong.

The people I treated well who seemed to have no benefit to me ended up becoming the Managers, General Managers and Inspiring Leaders five years down the road.

By not asking for stuff all the time, by treating these future leaders with respect and by being as close to a good human being as I could be, I got all the promotions and all the hard to reach opportunities.

My career in the corporate world looked like it was entirely built by luck. It wasn’t. My corporate career was built on respect, honesty and treating people well because it makes sense in the long run.


10. The true meaning of startup buzzwords

Lean startup. Agile. Disruptive. Act like a startup. Minimum viable product.

We hear these words every day in the startup and tech world. Every corporate is trying to adopt them as their own. I didn’t see any of these buzzwords in my corporate career ever be used successfully.

Lean startup meant Throw seven figures at it and see if it swims. If not, kill it fast!”

Agile meant plan the next five years of a new product, try to deal with every possible situation in the beginning and invite some management consultants.

Act like a startup meant adopt the word but still be a corporate because a sizeable business always knows best.

Minimum viable product meant fix every customer pain point in existence and build the mother of all solutions that’s going to take years to build and leave all competitors for dead. Let’s not fix one thing when we can fix everything thus fixing nothing in the process.


So what can you learn from the corporate world?

It’s not all bad. Park my humor for just one second. You can learn plenty in the corporate world and it’s not all bad.

The corporate world can teach you:

1. Leadership fundamentals

2. Corporate decision-making

3. Community values

4. The rate of technology disruption

The corporate world in some ways shows you what the past looks like so you can build the future. It shows you that size does not necessarily mean better results or more improved solutions.

What I’ve outlined above comes from dealing with hundreds of corporates over the last seven years and the commonalities around how they think.


The grass is not greener.

The corporate world sure has its problems. So does the startup world. So does medium sized business as well.

All business just has a different set of problems to solve.

The way to deal with this conundrum is to become an expert problem solver who enjoys the challenge. It’s not always easy to do.

The business world can get you down and suck the life out of you.

That’s why you need to take a break and get some perspective. Try small, medium and big business for yourself and make your own assessment.

The grass may be longer, shorter or in need of a mow but it’s definitely not greener.

<<<>>>

If you want to increase your productivity and learn some more valuable life hacks, then join my private mailing list on timdenning.net

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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11 Comments

11 Comments

  1. David

    Mar 8, 2016 at 12:26 pm

    Completely agree with these startup mistakes.

    These are the most common startup mistakes which almost every startup founder is making. There are so many common startup mistakes including:

    1. Having only one founder
    2. Launching too early
    3. Spending too much

    These 3 mistakes are very much common.

    If any startup has only one founder then they are more likely to fail because one single person can’t be able to handle all aspects.

    Having multiple founders helps find different solutions when you have any kind of problem because different brains think differently and generate different ideas.

    Some people launch their startups too early even if they aren’t ready for it. So It is not good.

    And people also spend too much money after starting their startup in order to generate instant result which isn’t good either. They just have to keep calm and work hard.

    I am glad that you have listed all the major mistakes here. So Thanks for sharing it. 😀

  2. Shunmuga

    Nov 16, 2015 at 6:51 am

    Thanks Joel for this great article. I become a die hard fan of Addicted2Success for a year and so and you are doing great. I follow Addicted2Success on both FB and Twitter.

    This is really a great article . May be I read it late but I read it at right time. I am planning to start a small business in my city to BE MY OWN BOSS but I struggle to do it because I am working in a Corporate and I desparate to lose my default earnings. And I get no mental support from my family to start a new business on my own.

    They are afraid of the risks involved and they are not willing to leave my job. But I still have hope and get a great motivation and support from Addicted2Success through all your articles and inspired day to day.

    Hope I start my new small business soon. 🙂

  3. Shelley

    Mar 7, 2013 at 6:55 pm

    Great tips! I need to go back reread #7.

  4. Chris Enderby

    Jan 5, 2013 at 10:44 pm

    Wow what a great article, simply laying out the common mistakes that we as leaders so often overlook. Talking about Internet marketing, I see it all the time with new business’s neglecting the great and wonderful world of the Internet. If your not on the net, statistics show that you will loose 54% of potential customers, wow that matters!!

  5. Dora

    Jan 5, 2013 at 10:18 pm

    One of the best decisions I’ve made this far is following this account on Twitter. I’ve learned so much within a matter of days. Thank you.

    • Joel

      Joel

      Jan 6, 2013 at 10:30 am

      Great to hear Dora, thank you for letting us know that 🙂

      Hey Chris, thanks for those Stats, that definitely shows how much the internet really matters to your business.

  6. Shirley Mansfield

    Dec 4, 2012 at 3:58 pm

    Great reminders for us all as each point is just as valid for an existing business as they are for a start-up.

    My number 11 would be ‘Not Knowing Where you Are Going!’

  7. Dave Kot

    Jun 4, 2012 at 2:14 pm

    Thanks so much for creating a great ToDo list- this information is a great reminder to me, and a grand refresher to keep my business in line now!

  8. Build Seo

    Apr 16, 2012 at 11:16 pm

    I think there are going to be mistakes anytime a business is started but some mistakes can b detrimental to success. I was a controll freak when I first started my business and that is something I am still working on.

    Businesses starting without an online presence is the whole reason I started my Internet marketing business.

  9. Julia

    Mar 23, 2012 at 7:26 am

    Great article! I just realized that I don’t have clear understanding what are the three problems my business solves. Makes me think about it.

  10. EntreVille.ca

    Mar 20, 2012 at 3:10 am

    I sooo agree with #4, that BUSINESSES MUST HAVE AN ONLINE PRESENCE! The first thing I do when I come across a new business is check out their website and I get very frustrated these days when restuarants don’t have a website with a menu on it! How can I order from you if I don’t know what you have. come on I’m hungry here! 😉

Leave a Reply

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Startups

10 Things The Corporate World *Didn’t* Teach Me

Published

on

Image Credit: Unsplash

I’ve just left the corporate world. It’s been seven years and I don’t regret a single second of it.

You’d think I would have learned everything there is to know about business in the corporate world. I didn’t.

There were a lot of gaps which I luckily was able to fill in during my entrepreneur days.

Here’s what the corporate world didn’t teach me:


1. How to think for myself

In the corporate world, you’re often told what to do.

If you don’t have the answer then some smart person, in some department will probably have the answer for you. The answer may not be the latest and greatest strategy, but it will be based on some prior knowledge.

As an entrepreneur, none of this was available to me. I’d roll up to the old Milkbar that was our office, and I’d start stacking boxes into the little van we had. More boxes of soft drink and chips meant more gold coins in our vending machines.

Gold coins could be banked at our local branch at the end of the day and that’s how petrol, electricity, uniforms and the occasional Macca’s dinner was paid for. No one told me how to do that.

I either collected the gold coins, or I didn’t. No gold coins meant game over. As an entrepreneur, that meant failure and during your 20’s that’s often the last thing you want.

Thinking for myself wasn’t taught to me it was a survival tactic. I took this tactic with me to the corporate world and people were surprised.

As my former colleague said to me the other day You don’t overthink Tim youjust get shit done while everybody else is scratching their head.


2. Time management

The corporate world is full of big companies with lots of resources.

With an abundance of anything you always have wastage. The corporate world definitely didn’t tell me how to manage time.

What could have been a five-minute phone conversation often ended up in huge email chains. It was a bit of a game.

“Every email involved another person or persons being cc’d. The ultimate trick was to blind cc people within your company. Like magic, bombs start going off and no one can work out who did what. That’s the power of BCC”

None of this was good for time management though. Lot’s of time was spent trying to communicate with one another. Meetings are a thing in the corporate world.

Every problem that exists must have a meeting. Even if it’s about whether we call the shared folder “Sales” or “Customer Files” a meeting had to be held.

Meetings in the corporate world not only suck up time but are also a fashion parade where all the biggest egos can strut their stuff.

“I’m more important and have a better job title.”

“No, I’m more important!”

This dialogue goes on for days and sometimes months. Understanding the politics is often more critical than understanding the business. Still, none of this is good for time.

The time wasted is used by the tech startup opposition to improve a bug, rethink the customer experience or out-market corporates using social media.


3. A passion for what you love

Passion in the corporate world can often be lacking. Working at a corporate for many is a way to pay the bills rather than do their life’s work.

Passion can often be traded for money, bonuses and even more impressive job titles — all of which leave you feeling more empty”

It’s not all full of zero passion, though. There are a few people that are insanely passionate and those folk shine through.

The corporate world taught me to put my passion on hold rather than use it to WOW customers with the very thing that sets me apart.


4. What people are really buying

Working at a corporate taught me that it’s all about marketing.

I knew, though, from the startup world that this very idea was wrong.

People are buying you. They’re buying the people they deal with and what those people stand for.

No client in my corporate career ever gave a damn about the commoditized products I was selling. All of my clients gave a damn about my obsession to inspire the world through personal development and entrepreneurship. They were intrigued by my five years as an entrepreneur and what I learned.

This led to customers becoming friends as opposed to people that bought widgets from me and had the money they laid tracked in a CRM as ‘revenue.’

Not once in my corporate career did I have something to sell that couldn’t be bought from somewhere else, at a lower price or with better product features. The product feature my clients bought was me


5. The power of an audience

People are often too afraid to be vulnerable in the corporate world.

I never learned the power of an audience during my career working in corporates. All of that was learned between 6 pm and 8 pm every night when I was at home from work posting on LinkedIn.

Social media is not so prominent in the corporate world because it requires you to remove the corporate mask and show your flaws. Fakeness on social channels like LinkedIn just doesn’t work. People don’t engage.

Many people told me that the audience I was building on social media was career suicide. I ignored every one of them and I’m so glad I did.

These same people that warned me to stay off social media are the same ones asking me now to help them with their own social accounts.

With an audience, you can test ideas.

With an audience, you can inspire.

With an audience, you can recruit people to your team.

With an audience, you derive meaning for your life.


6. Doing the important vs. the mediocre

In corporate business, there’s a lot of noise.

Everything looks important. Everything looks like it could become a lawsuit (especially for a corporate). Everything looks like it could become a PR scandal. Everything looks risky to that next job promotion and to the business.

That’s where mediocrity thrives. With so much noise it’s easy to spend your days filing bits of paper or moving widgets from Point A to Point B without having any clue of why you’re doing it or how it contributes to humankind.

I didn’t learn the discipline of doing the important work in corporate life.

Doing the important came out of the entrepreneurial trait of problem-solving through a vision. It came from wanting to see things better than they are.

Doing the important was fuelled by a desire to achieve a goal that everybody said wasn’t possible. It’s a rebellious philosophy that pushes mediocrity the hell out of the way.


7. The way to have a meeting (ideally no meeting)

Running a meeting in corporate life follows a formula.

This formula will put almost all attendees to sleep. It’s why when you walk into a corporate board meeting, most of the execs are looking at their phone rather than paying attention to who’s speaking.

The formula goes like this:

  • Introduce everybody in the meeting (most don’t need to be there)
  • Pretend there’s an agenda (it will get hijacked…guaranteed)
  • Pretend to solve the problem by agreeing to invite more people to a future meeting
  • Pass ownership around of the problem whilst ignoring the potential solutions
  • Assigning action items which everybody ignores (thus triggering another meeting)

“The best way to have a meeting is not to have a meeting”

Meetings are needed in the corporate world because of a lack of trust and having too many cooks in the kitchen.

Have only the people that can solve the problem in the meeting, make it short and trust in the outcome and vision you’re trying to achieve.

That very philosophy makes meetings for the most part irrelevant.


8. How to make better PowerPoint presentations

You’d think with all the PowerPoints you have to do in the corporate world to educate internal stakeholders, you’d be a freaking expert at doing them.

Quite the opposite is true.

Because of the number of PowerPoint decks you have to do in the corporate world, you get worse at them.

The decks get longer, filled with more words, more acronyms and more promises to take more action.

It’s like for every year in the corporate world you add another acronym to the sentence you’re currently writing.

The belief in the corporate world is that all problems must first begin their life in a PowerPoint.

No problem can be solved without a PowerPoint. I once tried to do a presentation with only one slide. Once I explained the one slide I had prepared with a simple diagram that a four-year-old watching Peppa Pig could understand, I then blacked out the screen.

I wanted the attention on what I was saying instead of some Times New Roman, white slide, with Size 12 Font that nobody could read.

Death by PowerPoint is a real cause of death in the corporate world. It kills dreams, ideas, free speech and the will to live.


9. The way to treat people

The corporate world taught me nothing about how to treat people.

Treating people well came from my eBay days where I learned that if you give someone on eBay the thing they want, and do what you say, you’ll get what you want.

This philosophy didn’t translate into corporate life. I was told to treat people well based on what they could do for me. If they couldn’t do anything for me then what’s the point of knowing them? Right?

Wrong.

The people I treated well who seemed to have no benefit to me ended up becoming the Managers, General Managers and Inspiring Leaders five years down the road.

By not asking for stuff all the time, by treating these future leaders with respect and by being as close to a good human being as I could be, I got all the promotions and all the hard to reach opportunities.

My career in the corporate world looked like it was entirely built by luck. It wasn’t. My corporate career was built on respect, honesty and treating people well because it makes sense in the long run.


10. The true meaning of startup buzzwords

Lean startup. Agile. Disruptive. Act like a startup. Minimum viable product.

We hear these words every day in the startup and tech world. Every corporate is trying to adopt them as their own. I didn’t see any of these buzzwords in my corporate career ever be used successfully.

Lean startup meant Throw seven figures at it and see if it swims. If not, kill it fast!”

Agile meant plan the next five years of a new product, try to deal with every possible situation in the beginning and invite some management consultants.

Act like a startup meant adopt the word but still be a corporate because a sizeable business always knows best.

Minimum viable product meant fix every customer pain point in existence and build the mother of all solutions that’s going to take years to build and leave all competitors for dead. Let’s not fix one thing when we can fix everything thus fixing nothing in the process.


So what can you learn from the corporate world?

It’s not all bad. Park my humor for just one second. You can learn plenty in the corporate world and it’s not all bad.

The corporate world can teach you:

1. Leadership fundamentals

2. Corporate decision-making

3. Community values

4. The rate of technology disruption

The corporate world in some ways shows you what the past looks like so you can build the future. It shows you that size does not necessarily mean better results or more improved solutions.

What I’ve outlined above comes from dealing with hundreds of corporates over the last seven years and the commonalities around how they think.


The grass is not greener.

The corporate world sure has its problems. So does the startup world. So does medium sized business as well.

All business just has a different set of problems to solve.

The way to deal with this conundrum is to become an expert problem solver who enjoys the challenge. It’s not always easy to do.

The business world can get you down and suck the life out of you.

That’s why you need to take a break and get some perspective. Try small, medium and big business for yourself and make your own assessment.

The grass may be longer, shorter or in need of a mow but it’s definitely not greener.

<<<>>>

If you want to increase your productivity and learn some more valuable life hacks, then join my private mailing list on timdenning.net

Continue Reading

Startups

How to Change Your Bad Habits for the Benefit of Your Business

Published

on

bad habits
Image Credit: Unsplash

If you are like most people, you probably like to complain from time to time about the economy, about the markets, about how things are changing too fast or how you don’t get enough time. Moan moan moan!

However, moaning doesn’t solve problems. Instead, you can follow the “No BCD” theory and avoid blaming, complaining and defensiveness. This way you will have a totally different outlook, handle situations a lot better, and take control over your destiny. A really practical way to do this is to develop better habits.

What are the bad habits you have?

Everyone has different bad habits, but when it comes to business here are the 4 most common ones:

  • Lack of focus: Every single day, there are going to be things you intend to do and then you “run out of time” or succumb to distractions. But if you’re honest, you had the time and there was a way – you just lacked focus.
  • You’re too kind: How many times have you taken on a project which wasn’t profitable, because you “felt sorry for them”. Not only does this actually hurt you, but it also in many ways hurts the relationship you have with that client or customer.
  • Promising and not delivering: Whether it’s something you said to your team, your clients, or your suppliers, if you’re not matching your words with your actions, over time others will believe you less and less.
  • Leaving opportunities on the table: So often people complain in business they don’t have enough (money/sales/support), when actually they do – they just didn’t ask for it. Within your existing network there is probably everything you need, you just have to ask.

“Successful people are simply those with successful habits.” – Brian Tracy

Think about it. You can look at each of these bad habits and replace them with new and better ones. Imagine…

  • If you created habits that made you focus better: you’d be more productive, with the same amount of time.
  • If you learned good ways to set boundaries: you’d have a better time delivering your services or products, and you’d feel more rewarded.
  • If you kept better track of your promises: You’d feel less stressed and overwhelmed.
  • If you picked up on more of those opportunities: You’d make more money, and inject welcome energy into those who are ready and willing to work with you. The side effect would be that you could delegate things you don’t love and aren’t good at to others more capable, and replace those activities with the things you love!

Breaking those bad habits

Over the years, I have managed to create more boundaries and space for me to be efficient and effective in my work. There are ways to do that  – some habits I have learned from others who have experienced and overcome similar issues, and some are the product of my own experiments. See below!

1. Sprints (for productivity)

I have to say this is so effective. I meet at least one other person at a coffee shop or members club – if it’s not in my office with my fellow team members. We plan to do 30 or 45 minutes of work and do between 3-5 sprints in a session. Blocking out 4 hours together I find works well.

We each say what we will work on and then we get going. No talking allowed, focusing only on the task we talked about. When the timer rings we stop, compare notes on progress, have a mini break and do another one. It’s honestly my most productive time, and it makes you realise how much time we waste on distractions and even moaning about having too much work on!

“A bad habit never disappears miraculously. It’s an undo-it-yourself project.” – Abigail Van Buren

2. A tiny assignment (for motivation to break a bad habit)

I have done this now twice with 2 different friends. We talk about the bad habits we each have, whatever they might be. We give each other a new rule or habit to follow over a two week period. It has to be a “SMART” goal assignment – specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-bound.

3. Low hanging fruit (for grabbing opportunities)

You simply make a list of people you already know who:

  • Fit into your target market but don’t work with you yet
  • Fit into your target market but haven’t worked with you for a while
  • Experience problems you know you can solve
  • Have their own network of contacts or audience which is very similar to the people you want to talk about
  • Have the expertise in things you find challenging, and very likely the answers to your current challenges

Once you have this list, you come up with some drafted initial outreach scripts for either text, email or phone calls and then you work through your list – sending out the requests, hellos, questions, etc. If you draft your communication well, considering the mindset of the people who are receiving these outreach messages, you will find each conversation will be at the very least a learning opportunity and would certainly lead to more “yeses” than if you didn’t do this exercise.

4. The minimum criteria (for setting boundaries)

If you find that your bad habits involve you saying “yes” too often when you should be saying “no” – then this one works great. You just need to write a specific list of criteria to answer the question “Any time I will do this, I need the following things to be true first”.

For example, you only take on a client who pays less than a certain minimum threshold, who has made a written commitment that they will comply with your specific set of guidelines for their responsibilities during the project. There are so many ways you can use the “minimum criteria” technique and you can share your rules with friends and colleagues to hold yourself accountable.

Now, with all this insight I hope you feel more motivated and you can’t even remember your excuses anymore!

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Startups

The Advantages and Disadvantages of Starting a Business in College

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College is a time of opportunity. Students are given a chance to learn a variety of new skills and to put those skills to use. One way to do this is to start a business. Starting a business isn’t something you should jump into without careful consideration, though. You need to take a look at what you stand to gain from it and what negative aspects come from starting a business are.

Sole Proprietorship or Partnership

The first distinction that needs to be made when you start a business is what kind of business it’s going to be. Will you be the sole owner? Will someone else be co-owning with you? If it is the former, this is referred to as a sole proprietorship. The advantages of this type of business are the fact that they are easy to start up and close if need be as well as giving the owner the flexibility of being their boss. Owners of this type also retain all profits earned.

There are downsides to this type of ownership. The biggest one is that the owner has unlimited liability. In other words, if the business fails, struggles, or falls into debt, it’s entirely on the owner.

On the other hand, if a student wanted to start a business with a friend, they could go into it as a partnership where each person holds a certain level of responsibility for the company. For one, two students starting a business can pool their resources and knowledge. Unfortunately, the development of a partnership doesn’t take away the idea of unlimited responsibility for the owners if they are general – meaning equal – partners.

“Never start a business just to make money. Start a business to make a difference.” – Marie Forleo

A Chance to Do Something Important to You

When a student is in college, they might end up taking whatever job they can to make ends meet. After all, the price of college is high, and many college students work entry-level jobs. It means that the posts you work at the start of your career might not be the ones that you are passionate about.

Owning a business, on the other hand, gives you more freedom. This is because a student’s business can be revolved around anything they are knowledgeable about. It gives them a chance to find their passion and profit off of it while having a job that they love.

The opposing side to this is that college students do work on lower funds than someone who has settled into a career further down the road and has savings built up from that. It means that for a student, start-up costs can be a little more challenging to reach.

The silver lining to that train of thought is that college students are only starting their career. They don’t have to worry about leaving a job that they’ve been working on for decades to take a risk and start their own business.

It Takes Dedication

Starting a firm, as we’ve pointed out, isn’t something that you do on a whim. The owner has to be dedicated to the business to have a successful company. It can be difficult at first because many people start their own business with the idea that they will create their hours. The truth is that you will probably find yourself working overtime and doing every menial task that the company needs to be done at first

It is mainly because you will be starting out on your own. Even if you have a partner, you won’t have employees to start out so there won’t be many delegations of tasks. If you are genuinely passionate about a topic, you will be able to find the dedication it takes to get your business off the ground. Remember, as the company grows, you’ll be able to hire more help – if the industry is a success, all responsibilities won’t fall on the owner forever.

“Don’t wait for the right moment to start a business. It never arrives. Start whenever.” – Lauris Liberts

Leadership

We already looked at the fact that owning a business means that you are in charge of all the goings on within your business. As such, this is an excellent opportunity to show your skills as a leader. If you don’t have strong leadership skills, this is a great chance to develop them fast because, without them, you will be watching your business go under.

Leadership doesn’t just mean organizing teams and delegating tasks. You will also have to take responsibility for less desirable functions within your business. For instance, as the owner, it is your job to fire someone when it comes time to let them go. It isn’t a job that anyone wants, but it is a task that needs to be done to keep a business running smoothly.

It all boils down to risk and reward. Starting and owning a business in college is something that can bring you a lot of good as well as a lot of bad. If you want a company to succeed, you have to consider both sides of this and decide if starting a business in college is the right choice for you.

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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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