It is no secret that to be a successful entrepreneur and in order for your business to be successful, you have to make money. How one goes about accomplishing that though can leave you feeling more lost than when you started. However, countless others have gone before you. By understanding those who have been successful, you can focus your time and attention on the activities that will provide the best return and make your business the achievement it was meant to be.
Successful Entrepreneurial Secret #1 – You Can’t Make Money If You Don’t Know How to Sell
While this might not be a unique insight, many entrepreneurs easily forget it. Some focus on the development and manufacturing of their product, others pour money into marketing, and others are worried about simply looking the part of a successful entrepreneur. However, the bottom line is that if you cannot sell, you will not make money.
“If you want to enter the world of business, you must learn how to sell.”
To improve your sales and negotiation skills, take on a sales job not for the paycheck, but for the opportunity to learn. Recognize that if you can overcome fears and doubts by learning how to cold call, make a presentation, and close a deal; you would possess a skill set that would allow him to negotiate with business partners, secure funding for investment opportunities, and lead with authority.
If you are an entrepreneur—or considering becoming one—you must honestly evaluate your ability to sell. One of the keys to evaluating your sales skills is to consider how well you communicate with others. If you can effectively communicate with others, you will be well on your way to master the art of selling.
The first step in becoming a master communicator is learning how to listen. Most people pretend to listen, but are actually thinking about what they will say the moment the person they are listening to shuts up.
As a result, they make responses and statements that often have little to do with what the buyer was talking about in the first place. If you are anxious for the person to whom you are presenting to be quiet so you can get to your pitch, odds are that you will end up missing the mark.
Too often salespeople offer a solution (the product or service) without even listening to the problem or goal of the buyer. They are focused on making a sale.
They see the buyer more as an obstacle to overcome than an individual to serve.
“True selling means being passionate about your company’s product or service and being compassionate with the wants, dreams, and needs of your fellow human beings.” Learn to listen and serve and you already know how to sell.
Successful Entrepreneurial Secret #2 – Why pursuing Your Passion Being an entrepreneur is hard
Typically, when starting out, you wear all of the hats. Your business card may say “Founder and CEO” but you are also the janitor (and, there is nothing wrong with that). Many people are drawn to entrepreneurship because they like knowing that the success or failure of the venture lies solely with them.
Where the problem lies is when the day-to-day grind of collecting payments, keeping the doors open, and handling complaints begins to make you lose sight of why you signed up for all of this in the first place
If you are not careful, you can easily become disconnected from your passion and once your passion is gone, your days are numbered. Most entrepreneurs become detached from their passion because the get caught up in the “thick of thin things.” In other words, by spending so much time, energy, and effort on the administrative activities of the business, they have little, if anything left over to devote to the visionary activities.
The key to overcoming this obstacle is to schedule time for your passion
Also, understand why you are getting into a business. If you love golfing, running an golf course may keep you so busy you don’t really get to do any golfing at all. Wouldn’t it make more sense to run a business and systematize it and streamline it so you don’t have to be there all the time and you can spend your days golfing?
In the big picture, there are three parts to any business, production, operating and marketing.
The majority of business owners spend their time in operating and production portion of their business and outsource or delegate the marketing portion. When doing survey’s on more successful business, the business owner spent most of his or her time on marketing and delegating the production and operating day to day tedious activities. Who would be know your business more than you? No one, hence you should be the one marketing and selling the business, and let your team take care of the rest.
The idea is to be creative and break with the status quo. Once your business is generating income and increasing your pipeline of sales leads. Thinking critically about each area of your business and think about how to allocate your time and energy. Notice I mention energy, this is because while time is finite and cannot be created, having time and no energy things cannot get done.
Notice how your energy levels change in various business activities, do you get drained doing cold calls, or listening to customer service, then delegate it and hire someone else to do it. Energy is vital to keeping your business running at peak performance.
Also, another black hole I see is entrepreneurs spending a lot of time and money on activities that are not money making activities. They spend hours and weeks working on website design or business card designs and they haven’t gotten a single customer. With so many online courses, workshops and even college courses prepping you on all these new gadgets, tools to help you market your business. It’s easy to get sucked in and spend a lot of time learning new tools versus finding yourself new clients . Shift your energy and time to money making activities, activities that help you produce results and income.
Successful Entrepreneurial Secret #3 – Don’t Be Afraid to Ask for Money (a.k.a. Know the Value of Your Product)
Selling your product or service short—and yourself—is what you do every time you wonder if you are charging too much. Even if you do it subconsciously, your lack of confidence is conveyed to the consumer loud and clear.
Nowadays, there are low-cost and in some instances a free version of just about every product out there. Because of this, you may be tempted to follow suit and price your product solely on what is cheaper than your competitor’s is. Here is what you need to remember: If people love your product or service, they will be willing to pay top dollar for it.
Think about Apple products for a minute. People are willing to pay hundreds of dollars more for computing devices that are essentially the same as their competition. Macs and PCs both can surf the Internet. They both can edit pictures and play media. They both are basically the same thing. However, if any die-hard Apple disciples were to read that last statement, they would come back with a litany of why Macs are better than PCs. And THAT is the point. Steve Jobs knew—and believed—in the value of his product and wasn’t afraid to ask consumers to pay more for not only what the product could do, but also for the experience it brought
Successful Entrepreneurial Secret #4 – Know Your KPIs
If you want your business to make money, you had better know which activities truly drive your business’s success and how to measure them. This is where KPIs come in to play.
KPI stands for Key Performance Indicator. Every industry has their own and if you expect to compete with them, learning why each KPI is important and what levers you can pull to better them can often be the difference between success and failure.
For example, you may want to consider tracking “lead response time” or how quickly your company responds to a potential customer’s request for additional information. You could measure “rate of contact” if your business does outbound prospecting. Alternatively, maybe you track the “click-through rates” of your marketing emails. Two things to keep in mind though, do not measure something just for the sake of having something to measure. You need to understand how what you are measuring affects your success or failure.
And that doesn’t mean whether or not you can explain it to someone. You need to be able to prove it with numbers. Even then, you can run the risk of the correlation of your KPI and success being coincidental. This is why identifying your true KPIs in the beginning may be an experiment of trial and error. The second thing to remember is just because you can measure something doesn’t mean you should. Try to limit the number of KPIs that you are monitoring to the most essential ones. If you begin tracking too many they will create noise and take away from your ability to analyze the health of your business. Develop the habit of measuring what you expect from your business and you will always know where it stands
Successful Entrepreneurial Secret #5 – Fail Fast, Fail Often Most entrepreneurs and investors are not risk adverse.
If they were, they would still be playing it “safe” in their 9-to-5 jobs. However, in order to make money, you need to experiment, take chances that may frighten you, and even be willing to lose money. As an entrepreneur, if you have hopes of not making any mistakes, then you have already made your first mistake.
Do not look at mistakes as something to be avoided at all costs, but as unique learning opportunities custom-tailored to you, your circumstances, and your business. The more lessons you can learn from, and the quicker you can learn them, will help shorten your learning curve and place you in a position to grow your business.
By adopting the mindset of “fail fast and fail often,” you begin to leverage the power of iteration—the process of repeating and refining a process in order to meet a goal. The ultimate goal for your business is to make money and to thrive. In order to accomplish this goal, you must iterate until you find the “breakthrough” that makes your business a self-sustaining entity.
When you are starting a business, speed is critical for success. The tighter you can run experiments and the faster you can iterate, the more chances you will provide yourself to find that winning combination. That winning combination helps you become scalable.
And scalability is what allows you to realize your big dream. So do not be afraid of making mistakes. Fail fast, fail often, and learn even quicker. You have to try, make mistakes, learn, and try again. If you try, make a mistake, and give up, you will never be the success you could have been.
Being an entrepreneur is hard, but the reward that comes from being successful is true freedom. It is freedom to do what you want, when you want, with whom you want, all while making money for yourself. By carefully considering and implementing the entrepreneurial secrets listed here, you can become more successful in building a business.
Selling, having passion, believing in your product, knowing what activities bring success, and a willingness to learn from mistakes will all make you better than you are today and help your business to be profitable. You just need to go do it.