Business lessons to become a successful entrepreneur

‘Tough times never last, but tough people do’ so goes an old age saying and has strong relevance in today’s entrepreneurial setup. Entrepreneurship has its own set of responsibilities and challenges to deal with. That is, from turning dreams into reality to forming a capable team to arranging finances. An entrepreneur often feels that road leading to success is never-ending and is full of bumpy rides. Depending upon sector or industry sometimes it may take years to make profit which tests entrepreneur’s resilience and persistence. Though everyone cannot become a successful entrepreneur or maybe he/she is not cut to become one.

Business lessonsLet us look at the lessons every entrepreneur should learn along the way towards success.

Search financial opportunities

One of the important steps towards building any business is to have finance in place. With passion alone your company cannot take off, you will require starting capital. It is also important to understand the operational and maintenance cost your enterprise will need.  Before you plan to start your venture you will have to calculate the total required costs that you will incur and you have to manage how to get those funds. You will have look beyond the traditional approach by surrounding yourself with industry insiders who can also invest in your business. Another method is to crowdfund your business. In simple words, you should not leave any stone unturned to see that your finance is in place perfectly.

Aim for the bigger picture

If a business survives for three years consecutively then it has better chances of success. One can see many startups die prematurely due to lack of a visionary leader. One should focus more on long-term goals instead of short-term ones for running the enterprises successfully. There can be few hiccups on the way which the entrepreneur has to overcome. One should understand the fact that success cannot be achieved immediately. You have to make a few years planning to register growth and profit from it. You may not get the expected results right in the first year but it is better to stick to your plan and stay committed to your long-term goal plans.

Learning from mistakes

‘Failures are the pillar to successes’ goes the old age proverb which is true even in this current scenario for the entrepreneur. Every business has few shortcomings along its way. One should have the ability to learn from mistakes that were committed in the past and negative feedback received from the customers and co-workers. One should access the past performance on regular basis to know which thing worked for you and which did not. Entrepreneurship is not about committing mistakes but using them to your advantage for the future.

Hire capable and talented employees

Human capital is one of the most valuable assets of any enterprise.  They function as an intangible source of profit. It is important to hire skilled, hardworking, and efficient employees who give their 100 percent to the enterprise. They may be needed to acquire job-related skills; they should be self-motivated and action-oriented.  Before taking final decision to hire an employee, try to spend some time with him/her. You will understand their thoughts, know their nature, and know their personality. To hire any employee do not base your decision only on academic qualification or an impressive biodata.

Entrepreneur’s job is not an easy one and you need to have a certain amount of commitment before you become a successful one.

How to convert your fabulous new business idea into practice?

There are many youngsters who have great business ideas but are unable to put it to work in a practical world. They do not know how to turn that fabulous new business idea into reality.

new business ideaAccording to a report nearly five hundred and fifty thousand people wish to become entrepreneurs every month or who want to start their own business. There is no sure shot formula to start a successful business but there are steps that you can take in the planning stage itself which will increase your chances of being a successful one.

The first and foremost thing as soon as a new business idea strikes your mind is to determine “why” and the “who” of it. You may think that your idea is awesome and fabulous one but your business will not succeed if you are unable to answer ‘why’ it is a good solution and for whom it would be a good solution. We will focus on “why”.

To begin with, what problem your business idea solves? Does it solve only your problem or the problem of others? If nobody faces the problem that you are facing then ‘why’ will anybody buy your solution?

You will have to think deeply and carefully ‘why’ your business is needed in the first place, who will be the target customers of your business. Think about the demographics to whom you will sell your solutions to, how will you communicate with them and what is important to them. A business is not a business if you do not have a customer.

There will be business similar or somewhat similar to yours out there in the world, which proves that market does exist for what you will be doing. You have to think about your competitor and what exactly they are providing. And what you will do differently or better than what they are doing.

If you want to stand out from your competitors, you should know your unique selling point that sets you apart from them. Research about your competitors, their target audience, how much do they charge, and things like that. It is not necessary to do things from the beginning or scratch but see to it what these companies are lacking in and how you can improve upon in those areas.

After the study of competitors, you should divert your efforts to study your potential customers. Start talking to your potential customers regarding the services/product offered by you that they can use, how much they are ready to pay for it, and comparable product/services that they are using at present.

Another way is to get a survey done by asking people to fill out forms; this will help to know your customers even better. Do not worry about the negative feedback as it can help refine your idea.

Note down all the finer points in details. The offering (product or service you plan), the cost at which you will sell, the marketing model, etc. It will be better if you know the concept of your business inside out. Organize your thoughts in a systematic way and step by step through tools and software available on the internet.

How to navigate your businesses through tricky growth stage?

Startup businesses have to struggle with environment volatility. The next stage companies which are in the growth stage struggle with volatility and complexity. These growing companies sometimes behave in unnerving and unexpected ways.

business growthThe entrepreneurs and leaders of the scaling (growing) companies require new skills and different approaches to navigating this challenging phase. It is the ‘middle’ period where the decline in businesses must be endured, and growth must be optimized. There can be swift alternating swings between both the situations. The entrepreneur should take ambitious risks along with his own leadership ways.

Here are few useful tips how one can navigate through this phase.

Leaders should leave the urge to control everything

Startup companies usually have a small team in which everyone is clear on the vision of the company and strive to act on it. Communication between members is frictionless. But as team size grows, to a single question like what are we trying to do, or what is the priority of the company, you start getting different answers, then it is the time to align the whole team. That is the company’s vision should be more focused upon and ingrained in everybody’s mind.

Leaders who start losing touch with their members as the organization grows should avoid regular check-ins of members and unnecessary sign-offs, which they do to maintain the feeling of control. Procedures and mechanisms should not be created in a vacuum. One has two options, to brainstorm people in a group or let members dream up ideas on their own and that idea should be discussed with everyone.

Discontinue weekly meetings

Processes which started when the company was a startup may have outlived their utility and usefulness. Like you may be conducting meetings every Saturday which may not be possible now just because today is Saturday and the meeting has to be conducted as it did in initial stage. Improving on the process or stopping it outright,  as everyone has to assemble leaving their current work.

Encouraging collective participation

If the team device their own work process, the entrepreneur should not get in the way. Though entrepreneur may know better than anyone else what the business needs to succeed. There are chances that other new team members may know better than you what it needs to get work done.

Alignment of thoughts and ideas in one direction improves the process. But as companies grow this alignment weakens. New members join in, new products are developed and the mission gets obstructed. So in the growth stage once in a while, the entrepreneur must convey the company’s goal, aim, and mission loud and clear to all the employees as they do to their clients or public at large.

Before developing new products share with employees

Companies spend large sums of money to market themselves to the general public but too little to market themselves to their own people.

Any new product that the company plans to develop, the idea should be shared among all present there and their views and opinion should be considered, as everyone around sees the usefulness of the product from the different angle.

The main job of the leader in a growing company is that when the company is going for a change, there can be many different views and after discussion and deliberations point out to the whole team where to focus all their energies and attention to. It should be the central theme for everyone in the company.

Everyone wants to cross the growth stage smoothly but only few succeed.

How to make your business successful internationally?

Indian economy is growing and so the businesses that are operating in the country also growing. Businesses are now poised to throw their hats in international markets through collaborations abroad and that is really great.

business

There should be a fruitful collaboration across cultures and businesses for both the partnering companies and mutually beneficial for all those involved. When any businesses wish to cross the national boundaries to form collaboration, a crisis can develop due to improper communication, lack of cultural knowledge and poor leadership between the two.

Here are a few suggestions to overcome the problem.

Prepare yourself, your company, and team for going international

In your company, you can conduct cultural understanding training that will help understand and familiarize the team with the unfamiliar culture of the foreign country. Though it may look absurd and an unnecessary expense but in a long run it will save your time and money. The training can either be permanent or temporary but it infuses your team with a new perspective and challenges other than the basic cultural assumption one has of the partnering companies’ country.

Gain knowledge

It is always better to know more about your prospective market. There can be a lot of difference in behavior, norms, values, etc. between the two countries and their markets. It is good to know what is valued and appreciated in the country you want to develop your market. Many a time a word in your country can have a different meaning in some other countries. For example, take the word ‘quality’. In some countries it can mean delivering on time, maybe in other, it can be the best possible product and to other, it can be completely different.

Make a plan

You should make a strategy and plan it out how you are going to enter the new market. The technical skills that you are familiar and the experience that you have gained through these years can be your formula for success. Many IT companies which have gone abroad have failed because they did not know what the client expected as there did deficiency of cultural understand on both the sides. When you plan it out let someone from outside evaluate and assess your plan and it is one of the methods that you can develop a winning business development plan.

Feedback from clients

If feedback is taken seriously it helps to improve your shortcoming. It is good when your client praises you. You can ask for feedback with every commitment that your company has accomplished. Allow the client to fill in the feedback form and do not forget to ask at the end how can things improve. One can use feedback to improve and make changes whenever needed.

Strategic alliance with companies

Getting into strategic alliances with companies abroad will broaden your perspective in the business activities you are involved in. One should be aware of own company’s strength and weaknesses that are real and practical which in long run will lead to your successes and failures.

Diversified team

Your team should be as diversified as possible on parameters like age, gender, education, language skills etc. This diversification will help you succeed more likely than you may think of, as each member will have a different view and opinion. Initially, you may not be comfortable with the team but you will have a very wide range of options that you can work upon.

You can easily face the competition in a foreign country by doing things smarter than your competitors.

 

How to stay motivated in the startup journey?

According to the research 5 out of 10 startups close in the first year. There are lots of reasons behind it like not having sufficient funds, lack of knowledge etc. However, one thing that also plays a major role in the startup journey is “motivation”. If founders are not motivated then their startup journey may stop soon.

startupWhen someone dreams about the startup he thinks that he will work for self, make unlimited income, will have own schedule to work etc. because he is highly motivated during dreaming startup. However, sometimes entrepreneurship journey may be boring and dull. So, it is important to stay motivated in a startup or entrepreneurship journey.

There are some tips that can help you in this regards:

1. Celebrate each goal you achieve

It is important in a startup journey to observe your progress. For this, you should set small sized goals that can be achieved on the daily, weekly or monthly basis. Whenever you accomplished any set goal celebrate it. Celebrating each set goal not only help to stay motivated but also increase confidence.

2. Never forget your dream

Startup journey starts with a dream that you want to make true in the future. However, in entrepreneurship, you may have to face frustration and disappointments as well. In such condition, you may forget your dream behind the startup. So, it is necessary to focus on purpose and set goal. Always think you are not alone who are facing these problems, even all successful entrepreneurs had to combat against these obstacles.

3. Obstacles are learning opportunities

Unexpected obstacles are very common in the entrepreneurship and due to this many beginners lose their motivation. They throw their startup dream aside. Getting discouraged is not a solution to the problem even it is a learning opportunity for you. Refusing obstacle is the first step to defeat obstacle. You should take each problem as a challenge that is making you strong to face big problems.

4. Reading stories of successful entrepreneurs

It is possible that you may lose confidence and motivation due to a number of obstacles. Reading stories of successful entrepreneurs will help you to know what types of challenges and problems they also had to face during building their company or ventures. The success stories of the successful startup always start with great challenges. So, it will encourage you to continue your startup journey.

5. Take time to relax

At the start, you may have to perform many tasks together and soon. It may feel you tired and bothered. Due to that focus on the important task may be difficult that may away you from set goals.

You should take time to recharge yourself. You can do anything that makes you relax like spending valuable time with a loved one, watching the movie, go to an outdoor ride, taking adequate sleep etc. It will help you to rid of from work tension.

You will feel better and free mind when you will return on work after relax. It will increase your productivity that may benefit to your startup.
Motivation and confidence are the two tools that help to continue the startup journey, therefore, you never leave these.

How to use social media websites effectively?

These days, social media is the easiest way to reach thousands of people across the world. It makes networks among people, businesses, companies that connect with each other for the different purpose. Due to the existence of a number of people, it has become the number one online marketing platform for all businesses. All small, mid and big size brands and companies are using it to increase their clients’ number and base. However, some forget the basics of the social media and did not get a desirable return.

use of social mediaHere, we have discussed some social media tips that will help you to use these websites effectively.

1. Purpose of the share (posting)

First of all, you should have a clear purpose of the using these websites and share like people engagement, lead generation, brand awareness or any other. Your marketing strategy should be based on social share or posting.

2. Use of hashtags

All most all social media websites allow hashtags (#). However, each website has its own algorithm to use it for the different purpose. Using hashtags is in trend in Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest. Hashtags help to get more visibility and find people, posts, images, videos with similar interests. You should not use the hashtag on each word, using on keywords is good and a number of hashtags also should be less.

3. Your targeted audience

There is a big difference between audience and targeted audience. You should go behind the targeted audience. This is the audience or people who can become your customer/client in the future or are interested in your products or services. On social media websites, people, brands, agencies, and companies are in the race to increase followers, likes however, having targeted followers and like may help to grow business.

4. Mix use of pictures, audio and videos

Each social media site allows sharing different media files like images, audio, video, illustrations etc. You should go for the mix of these all related to your products or services which people may like. These media files are the easiest way to increase engagement and stay active on shared posts. Share interesting, useful and related things with your business.

5. Your Bio

If anyone is interested to know more about you or your business then he/she can check your about or bio details. The details mentioned on the about or bio page should be real. It should include what you are, what you do, the business you deal with, each and everything that you want other people should know about you.

6. Stay active

There is no sunrise and sunset in the social media world. It is a 24×7 world so be active is one of the success parameters in social websites. Some people use these websites only when their business season come and on rainy days forget marketing. You should stay active on these websites and share on regular basis like daily or weekly. You also can share something useful related with your industry that your audience like if you have not anything to share.

How to start a startup brick by brick?

When people start their business they make mistake and some make many mistakes. By making mistake they waste a lot of time doing work that is not aligned to their business or may be counter-productive. Here are a few points that can help startup to minimize their mistakes.

start a startupKnow what exactly you are doing

Doing what should and needs to be done. Startups require a lot of hard work and need extra time from the normal. If you do not enjoy what you are doing or things are unexciting you will lose all motivation for doing it in a short period of time.

Starting from a point you should know what solutions you are building that will solve the problem. Be crystal clear what you are doing. Your market size will depend upon the people who are facing some problems; more the number of people who are facing a specific problem, larger will be your market size.

Your startup should be a solution provider

Successful startups are those which are built around the solution to a problem. Do not create solutions for artificially created problems. Being a startup founder you should not have a narrow vision.

Most of the startup start with creating something but end up finding solutions for something else after few failures and trial and errors.

Team

Do not plan to go ahead alone; always have a team or at least a co-founder who will share your joys, pain, expenses, problems, and workload.

It is usually seen that college friends are the best co-founders and the team size of 2 to 3 is the best. If the team size is too big chances of splitting is more.  It can be your wife, sister and brother as a co-founder but see to it that all co-founders share the responsibility and within a certain time frame finish the task assigned to them.

Many startups try to ‘add’ big names to their company to garner publicity and create a false illusion as if it is something big.

Your core team should be build based on the character of the person and not skill sets. Skill sets can be acquired or learned but the character cannot be built. As you will be spending most of your time with your team, see to it that everyone enjoys and is joyful in the work they do.

Funding and finances

This is the important ingredient in your startup that is oxygen for any startup. Never chase angle investor or venture capitalist, let them chase you. Investors value to good startups and they may be attracted towards you if they see the value. It may take a bit of a long time, but you will have an upper hand while negotiating terms and conditions. They should not interfere too much in your line of working. Another thing is you can raise the good amount in the initial phase itself as raising funds is difficult, time and energy consuming. Building your business should be your main aim and not raising money.

As regarding finance, keep as clean as possible. You will have to adhere to government rules and regulations like filing quarterly, half-yearly and yearly returns etc. so as not to get into unnecessary trouble and waste your time and energy on it. You can hire services of friendly Chartered Accountant who will advise you from time to time and will not cost much.

You may run startup on a tight financial position and hence you will have to keep all your costs and expenses under control.

Almost all startups dream to become big, but it should not be at cost of your family time, health and relationships. In the initial period, you may have to work long hours but see to it that as you progress you devote your time judiciously and have a healthy work-life balance.