We asked some of the most successful tech entrepreneurs for advice on cracking the industry
Why work for someone else when you can make your own dream come true? The appeal of starting your own business is clear: work on something you’re passionate about and, if successful, potentially bank a couple of million pounds in the process.
Yet, for every Raspberry Pi, Skyscanner or Huddle, there are plenty more that don’t succeed. A report from the RSA Group suggested at least half of new businesses don’t survive past five years, and three-quarters of venture-backed firms don’t return investor capital, according to Harvard Business School research.
That doesn’t stop thousands of people from trying each year, though. “Tech entrepreneurs are entering one of the most exciting industries around,” said Marko Balabanovic, innovation director at government-backed startup supporter Digital Catapult. “In 2014, 581,173 businesses registered with Companies House, while 98% of digital companies analysed in Tech City UK’s recent report were small businesses. This also means competition is frenzied and it takes a lot of determination to bring products or services to market. No road to success is smooth – there will be hurdles, but they can be overcome.”
“At least half of new businesses don’t survive past five years.”
You’ll need a good idea, the skills and wherewithal to make it happen, and plenty of luck. To make the road to startup success a little easier to traverse, we asked several leading British tech entrepreneurs to share their advice. Here’s what it takes to find success – from those who have made it.
1. Know who’s in charge
Going into business with friends or former colleagues is fraught with risk, not least if there’s no clear hierarchy. Even Google co-founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page brought in Eric Schmidt to take over the day-to-day running of the company, before Page took the reins back in 2011.
Divide power, said Sara Murray, co-founder and CEO of home-care tech firm Buddi, arguing that 50-50 partnerships “don’t work”. She added: “Make it 51-49, because one day you’ll need the extra vote.”
Make sure the chain of command is clear, both internally and legally. “Seek legal advice from the start and have a clean structure,” said Serge Didenko, co-founder of modular smartwatch startup Blocks. “Don’t obsess over details, but try to find a lawyer friend or a firm that can help you structure correctly.”
2. Start early
Got a great idea? Don’t sit on it. “Start today,” said Buddi’s Murray. “It takes around eight years for a business to become bankable. Don’t wait for a better idea – get started today.”
Blocks’ Didenko agrees. “Just do it,” he said. “It’s all about starting hands-on. If you wait for everything to be perfect, you’re never going to start. The perfect idea will come to you when you’re working on another idea. The perfect co-founder will come when you’ve already started working on it. Start doing something and then refine it.”
And that means starting young – if that’s still possible. “Do it early,” said Debbie Wosskow, founder of Love Home Swap, the travel home-swapping site. “Starting my first business at 25 meant I had nothing to lose.”
3. Find the right people
Surrounding yourself with the right people is critical. It’s not only staff who have to buy into your company’s philosophy, but outsiders too. “Take the time to assemble a really top-flight team: top-flight investors and top-flight customers and partners,” said Pilgrim Beart, founder of smart-home firm AlertMe and Internet of Things company 1248, among others. “Getting to success usually takes longer than you think, and there’ll be plenty of challenges along the way, so choose your fellow travellers carefully.”
Co-founder and president of collaboration-software firm Huddle, Alastair Mitchell, said finding the right staff is the “classic struggle” for startups. “You need a team of people who can deliver the expertise, and who are the top of their field, whether it’s development, sales or marketing,” he said. “A truly successful team should also be full of founders, of people who when they do something will do it better than you could, rather than doing what they’re told. It’s really exceptional, but it makes the difference between an okay business and a great business.”
What does he look for when hiring? “People who think big, who are motivated and who have the entrepreneurial instinct,” Mitchell said. “In my questioning, I’m looking for almost the rough edges – the things on their résumé that look different or reveal an inner drive.”
The company culture your staff create can be the difference between success and failure, added Jon Reynolds, co-founder and CEO of the virtual-keyboard firm SwiftKey. “One of the most important things I’ve learned along the way is the impact of the people that you surround yourself with and the company culture that you cultivate together,” he said. “From the beginning, we’ve found that investing in great people is one of the best ways to grow the company and increase our chances of success.”
4. Drop the ego
While every business needs a good leader, success is all about finding a team that works together. In fact, Human Innovation’s CEO Lee Powney believes that for any entrepreneur to succeed, they have to drop the ego.
“People say that ego drives success and that it’s just a natural product of being an entrepreneur,” explains Powney. “I think that’s absolute bullshit… From my experience you have to let that ego go.”
While ego can surely drive a business in meetings and the public eye, it’ll only get you so far in the workplace. “Ultimately, you want to find people who are better than you and inspire you, because setting up a business is the most painful high-and-low roller coaster you could possibly ride.
“Lose the ego and map out the type of people you want around you. Go find the stars and don’t build a business around yourself.”
5. Do what you love
One of the most successful tech ideas to come out of Britain in the past decade is the Raspberry Pi, the barebones microcomputer designed to help get children interested in programming. Five million of the devices have been sold, but Raspberry Pi creator Eben Upton pointed out that he doesn’t measure success based on his bank balance. “It would seem kind of strange to start a business because you’ve got to make money,” he said. “You’ve got to think that you’re going to accomplish something that’s worthwhile.”
“It’s easier to “sustain the work level” if you enjoy what you’re doing.”
It’s more fun that way, he said, and while that may sound flippant, Upton points out that it’s easier to “sustain the work level” if you enjoy what you’re doing. “Most startup companies fail… but one of the things that makes a difference is the work rate that the people who have started the company can sustain,” he said. “It’s much easier to sustain a high work rate if you believe in what you’re doing. I don’t know many people who can sustain a high work rate because of the prospect of a big payday.”
6. Do things your own way
Learning from others is always key, but to retain that true entrepreneurial spirit, you’ve got to keep your core ideas in focus. If Brin and Page had taken some of the terrible advice they were given in the early days of Google, would it be the powerhouse it is today? Probably not. If you want to grow, you’ve got to stick to your guns.
“The primary lesson is that you have to build a company your own way,” explains Zendesk CEO and co-founder Mikkel Svane. Sure, you have to go to somebody and look at their formulas and learn their lessons, but you can’t have them making all the decisions for you, that’s how Zendesk jumped from being three of guys coding in a Copenhagen kitchen to one of the largest SaaS companies in the world.
“It’s like [having] kids. You can’t tell them how things are, you can’t tell them how to do things, they have to try them on their own. Our lives are all unique in many different ways.”
7. Look after your own mental wellbeing
Working your way through the early days of any startup is no easy feat. While it’s obvious that setting up a new company won’t be a breeze, Udemy CEO Dennis Yang believes many young entrepreneurs may not realise just how stressful it can be.
“People embark on their journey, but a lot of [the journey] is how to manage your own psychology in all of the [emotional] ups and downs. It’s a huge thing that I think people don’t really understand.”
Trying to keep your cool in any situation, both during the highs and during the lows is key to your startup’s success. Go overboard during the good times and you risk crashing and burning when the low times roll around again, perhaps just a few hours later. “[managing your own psychology] is hugely important if you want to be successful”.
Setting up your business and developing your product is the easy part of creating a startup. The real challenge begins when you have to start convincing others of its worth. The trick is to not become disheartened and deterred from your great idea.
“There’s a lot of people out there who are ‘yes, but…’,” Nigel Shanahan, founder and chairman of Rant & Rave, told us. Obviously, some ventures work out and others don’t, but it’s about discovering that for yourself. Don’t decide your business is worth canning because someone else told you it shouldn’t exist.
“Naysayers will give you lots of reasons for why you’ll fail, but you’ve just got to persevere. The really talented people out there are the ones who end up persevering.”
9. Take your holidays
The stereotypical startup entrepreneur works 20-hour days, seven days a week to make their dream come true. While that’s often the case, you’ll burn out if you don’t take a break. “When you’re working in situations that seem to demand that you don’t take your holidays, I have learned to always take them,” said Celia Francis, CEO of Rated People. “I remember one summer working the whole three months and finding myself completely burnt out in the autumn as a result. I could not bring my usual positive, creative, fun energy to my team, and it did not help me or the company succeed. And, of course, I missed a chance to spend time with friends and family that will never come back to me.”
“While many startups appear to become an overnight success, that doesn’t normally happen.”
Starting a business isn’t a three-month effort – you’ll be at it for years, so pace yourself. While many startups appear to become an overnight success, that doesn’t normally happen straight away, said Huddle’s Mitchell. “Anyone who wants to pursue a startup in the industry needs to be prepared to make a holistic long-term commitment,” he said. “It doesn’t matter if you’re the founder, president or the CEO, you have to be in it for the long haul and you have to manage yourself, your health, and your family life. That’s why I coach founders who are currently on this journey to encourage them to find a balance in their own lives. They need to learn how to manage the pressure and expectations they place on themselves.”
Finding that work-life balance means you’ll need to cede control. “Entrepreneurs become the bottleneck to growth because they struggle to delegate,” said Buddi’s Murray. “You have to learn to let people do things you know you could do better.”
Blippar co-founder Jess Butcher agreed, saying learning how to delegate “took me far too long, aided only by having a baby and an enforced period of time out of the business!”
10. Learn to listen – and communicate
Those flappy things on the side of your head? Use them. “When you’re asking for people’s feedback, listen with open ears,” said Blocks’ Didenko. “Asking the correct question really matters in getting useful feedback that you don’t necessarily want to hear. Think about your questions.”
“Make sure you’re also telling customers and investors everything they need to know.”
But that doesn’t mean you need to heed every word of business advice. “Don’t listen to anyone and everyone who tells you it will never work,” said Wosskow. “That’s an easy thing to say. Seek out people who will motivate and support – but also tell you the truth.”
Make sure you’re also telling customers and investors everything they need to know – they’re what will make you a success, after all. “At AlertMe we – correctly in my opinion – launched our proposition to market as soon as we possibly could, when it was barely in a beta stage. This was fantastic for shaking out bugs in the technology, the UX and the proposition,” said Pilgrim Beart. “But we hadn’t realised how clear we needed to be with our B2C early adopters that this was indeed a beta, and so we had to do a lot of damage limitation, as we initially failed to meet their expectations. If we’d set clearer expectations upfront, I think we could have saved ourselves a lot of pain and still had a lot of good learning.”
11. Check your attitude
Of all the qualities required of a startup entrepreneur, mental toughness is near the top of the list. “This stuff is hard,” said Wosskow. “It requires grit. The staying power matters more than the initial enthusiasm that comes with the idea.”
Her and our other entrepreneurs offered advice that holds true to the rest of life: get up early; never burn a bridge; develop a thicker skin; keep trying. “If you feel like every day you have tried to be the best you can be, then that’s a reason to bounce out of bed the next morning,” Wosskow said.
12. Have a vision – but don’t let it overwhelm you
What’s the goal of your startup? Does it scale to tens of thousands of users and hundreds of staff? “The importance of creating a shared vision as to where we want to be as a company – it’s as vital now, with a team of over 700, as it was when there were three of us working from my spare room,” said Gareth Williams of Skyscanner, the booking site that’s disrupted how web-savvy travellers find discount flights. “I strongly believe time can barely be wasted in the communication of vision and strategy.”
“Throwing mud at the wall can be a good initial strategy, but you do have to pay attention to what’s sticking.”
And while you’ll need to be flexible with that vision, so it can evolve as you learn, make sure you stay focused, advised Pilgrim Beart. “I caused a lot of problems for my first startup as I repeatedly rushed after the latest, most exciting opportunities, when instead I should have worked out which was the most important one and stuck with it,” he said. “Throwing mud at the wall can be a good initial strategy, but you do then have to pay attention to what’s sticking.”
The vision for your startup may be so grand that it’s intimidating. “Don’t let yourself be overwhelmed by the task ahead and use that as a reason not to start,” said Blippar’s Butcher. “Have a big-picture vision against which you plot your course and keep referring back, but then break it down into a micro to-do list and just start ploughing through it. You’ll be amazed at how prolific and productive you can be when that to-do list is for your personal vision and not someone else’s.”
13. Think big, think global
There’s no point in starting up a new business unless you have ambition, and while thinking about the day-to-day of running a company is important, you should always keep the larger picture in mind.
“By far, the most common mistake for European entrepreneurs is that people still don’t think globally enough”, says Prezi co-founder and CEO Peter Arvai. Having built his business out of Hungary, Arvai has seen many other companies believe that the UK is the real hallmark of success. However, from a global perspective Britain is small beer.
“You tend to run the risk of becoming a regional player in Europe, rather than a global player [if you only focus on the UK].”
Don’t worry about rushing into it, though – Arvai believes you should just keep the goal in mind and work towards it. “I don’t think it’s a first step, but I do think other markets offer tremendous growth opportunities.”
14. No regrets
Don’t forget that you chose to start a business — this is your dream. Throw yourself into it so you’ll never look back wondering: what if? Huddle’s Mitchell has a test for ensuring he avoids regrets: how would he feel if he were hit by a bus? Other than squashed, that is.
“One of the guiding principles in my life – and everyone I know gets very bored hearing me talk about it – is what I call the big red bus,” he explained. “It’s basically about the fear of death… The idea is to think about what would happen if I were to walk out across the street and be struck by a big red bus. In that brief moment before it hits me, what would be the thing that I would regret not doing?”
“Instinctively, people know the right answer, but it can be buried under so many layers of doubt and questions that it’s sometimes hard to find,” he added. “Starting my own business came from one of those moments. I just decided one day that I was going to do this. It was at the height of everything going well for me in my job, but I knew if I were staring down the big red bus without having gone for it, I would have died regretting it.”
Are you launching a new store or trying to take your business to the next level? We recently asked some of our clients to share their best tips for fellow entrepreneurs on how to sell online — successfully. Here’s what 10 successful store owners had to say from optimization to data to social media.
1. Focus on these three fundamentals
“Quality product, great imagery and good shop navigation.”
2. Optimize your design
“Work on a simple, clean and professional look that will be pleasing to your customers — make shopping with you an easy and pleasant experience.
3. Bring your products to life
“Well photographed images of your product make a huge impact on potential customers. Provide images that allow them to ‘experience’ your product online.”
4. Leverage data in your decisions
5. Build relationships with influencers
“We really, really like bloggers for our niche store. So if you’ve got a niche product, don’t be afraid to reach out to the community of bloggers that suit your product. Offer them samples and let them know of your sales. They’ll get you free publicity, and their word will be a lot stronger with their readers than your own words ever will be!”
6. Ask for honest feedback
“Find a group of people who are going to tell you the truth.”
7. Connect with your customers
“Build a community around your products.”
8. Always be selling
“Don’t get bogged down in social media… go out and talk to real people too!”
9. Make buying easy
“Streamline the purchasing process. Eliminate the barriers to entry and customer doubt.”
10. Enjoy the ride
“If you have fun your followers will have fun and will want to support you and your store. Make your sale about creating new relationships, not just making money or getting rid of extra inventory.”
Entrepreneurs rarely have the opportunity to speak about their experiences without someone asking for their top tips or secrets for success. Over the years I’ve heard about many such prescriptions for winning at the game of business. Words like “passion,” “persistence” and “initiative” are among the more common adjectives used to describe successful entrepreneurs. It was even a staple of my own undergraduate and MBA courses that students had to devise and submit their own “Top 10” lists for success in entrepreneurial ventures.
Sometimes, though, the most valuable lessons can be found between the lines. It’s not so much that they’re secrets (despite the deliberately provocative title of this article) as they are things left unsaid. When I’ve shared this list with entrepreneurs, they generally agree – so I’ll take that as partial validation – and I’ll leave it to you to decide whether they make sense for your situation. The first seven items are what I would call observations; things that I’ve found to be true more often than not. The last three are more advisory; suggestions on how to act that are consistent with the behaviours of many of the best entrepreneurs and leaders I know.
1. People are lazy.
This may sound harsh but, really, we are. Whenever possible, people will seek to accomplish whatever needs to be done with as little effort as possible. We also refer to this as efficiency, but it really amounts to the same thing. Think of the most successful innovations in the past year, or the past decade, or even the past century. Now ask yourself whether they involved reducing effort or made our daily lives harder and in fact required greater effort. Whether you thought of automobiles, computers, mobile phones or – my personal favorite – the TV remote control, reducing effort (or increasing efficiency) pays dividends.
Another way to think of it is to ask yourself why some innovations don’t succeed. A classic example is the Dvorak keyboard layout. It is much more “efficient” than the conventional QWERTY keyboard, but was doomed to failure because it required users to learn a new skill. Entrepreneurs should be cautious when trying to launch a new product or service that requires users to climb much (or any) of a learning curve. The magic of Apple devices has long been their intuitiveness. Easy-to-use doesn’t guarantee success, but hard-to-use is a recipe for disaster.
Laziness is also found in how we think. Nobel Laureate Daniel Kahneman refers to a “Law of Least Effort” in regard to how much mental energy we exert to solve problems. His findings are discouraging: we tend to do the bare minimum and end up making serious errors of judgment as a result. In a nutshell, thinking is hard work and we don’t do any more work than absolutely necessary (and often not even that much). Given a choice between exerting a bit more effort (mental or otherwise) or a bit less, how many of us choose to work harder? That’s right – we’re all a bit lazy.
2. People are impatient.
Just as we want things to be easier, we also want them to happen faster. As in, right now. Not later. How long are you willing to wait for a web page to load? How do you react to being put on hold? For most of us, the answers are: not very long and not very well.
One of the most famous experiments in psychology is known as the Marshmallow Test. Children were given the choice of one marshmallow (or Oreo cookie) immediately, or two if they could wait ten minutes. As you might expect, some took the immediate reward, while others were able to wait. The striking thing about this research came years later, when the research team was able to identify significant differences in the life trajectories of the now vs. later groups of kids. Those who were able to delay gratification at a young age were more likely to have finished school and obtained college degrees, had lower incidences of divorce, addiction, and obesity, and tended to be better off economically.
The lessons for us? If we can delay gratification, we can attain some significant advantages. But as entrepreneurs, we should be just as wary about launching a business that requires our customers to wait as we are about one that makes them work hard (as per point #1 above). The success of the fast food industry should tell us all we need to know about the value of instant gratification.
3. Everything takes longer than you think.
Despite the tendency of people to prefer instant gratification, the process of starting and building a new business is slow and deliberate, without immediate rewards. There are always a few exceptions – Facebook is often cited – but the definition of an exception is that it isn’t normal. And the greater the degree of novelty, the longer it will usually take to educate and persuade potential customers. That’s not to mention the core activities of developing the product, building a team and raising the capital to pay for everything.
I often describe this principle as the “universal law of everything.” It doesn’t seem to matter how much time I allow for any given task – whether it’s picking up dry cleaning or writing an article. Time seems to evaporate, leaving me scrambling to catch up. Watch entrepreneurs working during the start-up phase of a new venture and you’ll find them working whenever they’re awake; they almost never sleep. They’ll tell you it’s because there never seems to be enough hours in the day.
Bob Nourse, founder and former CEO of The Bombay Company, notes that “running out of time is failing.” If you can’t generate revenue and/or profits fast enough to keep the business afloat, you fail. Half of all startups experience this outcome within the first five years. Failing to allow enough time to make things happen is a major reason why.
4. One thing leads to another.
Investors are fond of saying they’d rather bet on an “A” team with a “B” idea than a “B” team with an “A” idea. They know that business models change, technologies evolve, and customer tastes are in a constant state of flux. Those same investors will tell you that most business plans are obsolete the second they come off the printer.
Simply put, there’s no substitute for being part of a market (launching your product or service without exhaustive market research). There’s tremendous value in simply getting started and learning as you go. Accept that the first (or first 10) version of whatever you’re selling won’t be perfect. The process of trying, fixing, and trying again is how entrepreneurs figure out what their customers really want and what it will take to deliver against those expectations.
Netflix is an online entertainment company. It began life when CEO Reid Hastings mailed some DVDs to himself to see whether it would actually work. The simple act of doing something triggers a reaction – sometimes good, sometimes not so much. But the difference between a dreamer and an entrepreneur is that only one of them takes action. Businesses can’t grow if they never start in the first place.
5. There is no free lunch.
Most of us learn early in life that you can’t get something for nothing. It’s a lesson we sometimes forget and have to re-learn (more than once). Choices are necessary, if not always pleasant. There’s only so much time and money and talent available. Spending an hour on one thing means that you can’t spend this hour on something else. A dollar spent on a cup of coffee in the morning is a dollar no longer available for pizza later that night.
Harvard Professor Michael Porter describes the essence of strategy as “deciding what not to do.” Leaders who aren’t able to make tough choices doom their organizations to mediocrity when they do too many things in an adequate way and nothing with excellence as the desirable standard. The hardest thing for a new company to do is say “No” to a customer. But if you chase every shiny penny you see on the sidewalk, you shouldn’t be surprised if you end up somewhere you didn’t want to be. Businesses evolve, but they can’t be everything to everybody. Recognizing when trade-offs have to be made, and having the mental discipline to make hard choices often separates the winners from the losers.
6. Stuff happens.
And sometime the stuff that happens is wildly outside our set of expectations. There are a number of labels for this: The Black Swan Effect, Tail Risk, or, the more prosaic, Sh*t Happens. We have different mental models to explain why things happen, including luck, karma, fate, destiny, chaos theory, and the law of unintended consequences. But whatever phrase or rationale we might use, there’s no denying the fact that we can’t plan for everything. Moreover, sometimes the very thing we expected least is the very thing that comes to pass.
Sometimes the surprises are predictable (see Max Bazerman and Michael Watkins’s book in References at the end of this article). But when we are caught by the unexpected, how do we react? In some ways, our ability to respond depends precisely on the nature of the trade-offs we’ve made in the past. Committing to a particular technology, for example, can lock a company into a dead-end trajectory if a new technology displaces the old. But failing to commit, which increases our options, may be too costly and lead to an uncompetitive position.
One type of “unexpected” event that is both common yet sometimes hard to imagine is the dissolution of a partnership. Just as newlyweds find it difficult to envision divorce, so too do entrepreneurial founders struggle with the notion that their partnership might not last forever. Building a “shotgun” clause (also known as the buy/sell provision) into a shareholders agreement is not unlike a pre-nuptial agreement in a marriage. A tough conversation to have, but well worth the effort.
7. We’re all animals.
I mean this in the literal sense. We are biological machines and we don’t work well if we neglect our bodies. If you don’t believe me, try a simple experiment: fast for a day or stay up all night and see how well you make decisions and get along with people. Research is continuing to show how closely our minds and bodies are connected; fatigue and low blood sugar are just the tip of this particular iceberg. Yet how often have you pushed far beyond the point at which you can think and function effectively? Don’t underestimate the value of a light snack or a power nap when it comes to making good decisions.
Taking care of our organic selves results in a lot of business opportunities. For example, what percentage of our incomes is allocated to the basics requirements of food and shelter? As population demographics begin to shift, the nature of those needs will also change; entrepreneurs are pursuing those opportunities as you read these words. So start treating your own body well and begin to think of yet-to-be launched businesses that can cater to our animal natures.
The final three items in this collection of not-so-secret secrets are less observational and fall into the category of basic, commonsense advice. They’re not magic and they won’t guarantee success, but if you choose not to heed them, don’t say I didn’t tell you so.
8. Sweat the details.
Understanding the intimate details of a venture is necessary. Not sufficient to ensure you’ll wind up on the cover of Fortune, but necessary to keep your head above water. The 2008 sub-prime lending meltdown was an extreme example of what can happen when decision makers lose track of the details. Forensic analysis has revealed how poorly corporate leaders understood the nature of the risks they were taking. Unfortunately, the consequences of their actions affected far more of us than those who made the decisions.
The example of a buy/sell clause in a shareholders agreement is another example of a detail, which, if overlooked, can literally destroy a business. When it comes to cost and revenue drivers, lacking a crystal clear sense of what influences each one, and how costs and revenues move together (or don’t) can be catastrophic. This is not meant to encourage micro-management (see point #10 below). Knowing the details is important. What you do with that knowledge is another thing altogether.
9. Learn from everything.
We can learn from success. We can learn from failure. We can learn from our own experiences and from what happens to others. We can learn from what we see and hear today as well as from history. The title of this paragraph really says it all. But just because we can learn from everything doesn’t mean that we actually do.
As an educator, I am passionate about learning. Most of the successful entrepreneurs and business leaders with whom I work share that passion. And I don’t think it’s a coincidence. When we stop learning, the world moves past us. Ask yourself what really new thing you’ve learned in the past 24 hours or the last week. And if you can’t, watch a TED talk, pick up a magazine you’ve never read before, or find a blog that sounds interesting. It might not help, but it’s hard to imagine how learning something new will do you any harm.
10. Don’t be a jerk.
Just because this is the end of the list, don’t think that this is the least important. If you want to build an organization with great people, you need them to want to be part of your team. And, since we all know life is too short to work with jerks, it’s a certainty that the best people will exercise their options to work with the best other people they can find.
You might be a technical genius, a visionary thinker, and/or a world-class salesperson. But that doesn’t mean you can’t also be kind, considerate and empathetic. The best organizations in the world (armies or companies or churches) are made up of volunteers – people who passionately believe in what they’re doing and choose to be there. If talented people are in your organization despite you rather than because of you, sooner or later they’ll be somewhere else.
Laziness. Impatience. Unpredictability. These are hardly virtues and it’s a list unlikely to appear in anyone’s advice column on how to get ahead in life. But I do believe these are characteristics that shape our lives – as do our inner animal selves. We don’t have to be proud of these particular aspects of human nature, but we should at least acknowledge them. And, if we’re willing to learn, pay attention to what matters, and be decent to one another, things might just work out all right despite our collection of dirty little secrets.
The job of an entrepreneur is to solve problems with services and monetize it smartly. Hiring the right team for the job is what an entrepreneur does; for instance if you need to have your organization digitally marketed you hire a Digital Marketing Company in Dubai. The same goes for everything else. No entrepreneur can be expected to be a master of every skill necessary to develop those problem-solving solutions, but not knowing even the basic is suicidal! Here are 5 things that every entrepreneur needs to know.
Mobile Centric Strategies Are Important, but There Is More
Yes, we know you know that mobiles are big these days. Search volume on mobiles surpassed desktop numbers a long time ago and we also know that you probably have a mobile centric strategy in place already. But what about other things you need to do to make the best of mobile supremacy. What we mean is, have you optimized your ads and paid campaigns for mobile users? Perhaps not, interestingly, many are yet to know what differentiates mobile marketing centric strategies from the regular ones. If that sounds familiar, waste no time in hiring a Digital Marketing Company in Dubai.
SEO is Never Complete
SEO is not a ‘do once and forget’ project. Continuous signals sent out by your website in terms of content freshness, relevance and quality need to be maintained. This has to be done on a constant basis. Your target audience will make a search for everything and if they can’t find your brand right away in the beginning few seconds, they won’t come to your website – mobile optimized or not! If you are unhappy with your current SEO Company, don’t stop abruptly; seek a smooth transition, gap in your SEO work will suddenly cause ranks to go through the floor.
Strive for Great Content Everywhere
Great content is the basis of all SEO, digital marketing and content marketing activities you do. The moment you drop priority for good content, everything else that’s based off it will suffer. The most unique and smartly conceived content is also the one that will ensure better traction for all of your paid and organic activities. Long story short, without good content, you are going nowhere.
When you approach a Digital Marketing Company in Dubai make sure you keep all of these things in mind and the rest will pan out just as you plan.
Most entrepreneurs spent years working long hours to reach the success they have today. Wonder how you can do that too? Study their best practices, mistakes and key character traits to emulate them and dramatically shorten your own path to success.
Usually, it takes years of trial and error to figure out these secrets. I’ve crushed that excuse of not knowing what to do and am giving them to you right here. But the only real secret is that it’s action, not knowledge, that fosters true accomplishment.
Ready to get started? Here are the seven secrets that I consider vital to any entrepreneur’s success:
1. Hire to succeed despite your limitations.
Everyone has limitations. Maybe you have trouble focusing on one thing at a time, say yes to too many things, have a health condition or don’t know much about technology. Maybe you’re great at ideas but bad at implementation. It doesn’t matter. You can still succeed by bringing the right people onto your team.
Related: 10 Tips That Will Help Launch Your Startup Faster
Billionaire founder of Spanx, Sara Blakely, says the best thing you can do is hire to make up for your weaknesses as soon as you can afford to. Jump past barriers and countless years of indecision by hiring a business partner that gives you the kick you need to stay motivated or a sales representative to get your product out in stores. Whatever your weakness is, identify it and hire it out as soon as possible.
2. Raise more money than you think you need.
Venture capitalist Sam Hogg suggests every founder raise twice the money they think they need, and plan on it taking twice as long as they expect. Founders worry about dilution, but as HelloSign founder Joseph Walla discovered, having enough money meant reaching cash flow positive, and it didn’t mean going out and raising another round during development.
The essential lesson here is that time spent raising money is time you aren’t spending growing your company. There’s a tremendous temptation to ask for less so that you aren’t disappointed if your bigger ask falls short, but curb the impulse for the good of your company. Get it done all at once, and in a way that gives you the working capital you actually need — not just what you think will do.
3. Research the market extensively.
The number-one reason that startups fail is a poor fit in their markets. Identify the value you can provide for your customers and how to reach them fast and effectively.
Do you have a compelling value proposition or short-term event that triggers a customer to make a purchase? Is your market timing finely tuned? Is the group of people whose problem you solve big enough to sustain your success? Forget about success in 30-days, or at all, if you don’t know who you’re trying to reach or if the market is even ready for you.
4. Use the right tools to acquire customers.
Successful entrepreneurs know which tools work despite the hundreds available and conflicting reviews circulating online. Don’t succumb to overwhelm by the sheer thought of available options. Instead, focus on what successful business owners have to say.
I personally recommend several tools such as Wyzowl to create web-ready videos and MailChimp if you’re just getting your feet wet with email marketing. Whether you follow my advice or someone else’s, do your own testing to figure out if tools you’re using are providing a solid return on your investment.
5. Prepare for change.
It’s no surprise that stuff happens and will challenge your business. Business can be unpredictable and throw a serious wrench into your plans.
Maybe a competitor just launched a beta version of the product you’re currently developing. Maybe your supplier has serious problems fulfilling orders and maintaining quality. Maybe your partner wants out to pursue another idea and wants a buy-out. Whatever the case may be, get ready to pivot and implement change quickly regardless of the challenges you’re facing.
Take inventory of issues that could leave your business exposed, then follow suit accordingly, such as putting a shotgun clause in your partnership agreement or investigating new technology.
6. Focus on the 20 percent.
Whether we’re talking about life or business, 80 percent of all results are achieved from 20 percent of your efforts. As a result, successful business owners focus on the 20 percent that matters the most, and many outsource the remainder.
Steli Efti, founder of Close.io, shared the lessons he learned while outsourcing non-essential tasks. Among them? Don’t outsource sales too soon, be hands-on during the onboarding of your contractors, and be sure to follow up with all prospects.
7. Provide customers with amazing service.
Many companies fail to reach their potential because they’re so focused on the sale that they forget to provide a phenomenal customer-service experience. Customer service isn’t just about handling complaints. It also involves loyalty programs, incentives for referrals and other customer-focused activities.
It’s been said that “Sales without service is like putting money into a pocket with a hole in it,” and I wholeheartedly agree. If you aren’t investing in this key area of growth, it’s time to allocate more resources to this critical need. You may find it helpful to spend a day working with your customer-service team to see where issues arise, or you can poll employees working in this department on the biggest challenges they encounter.
However you approach the issue, take action on your findings. Don’t just say you need to provide better service — do it. Follow through, and be sure you’re measuring the impact of your actions. If you don’t see a measurable improvement in the key performance indicators you’ve associated with your service metrics, keep iterating your process until you come across the winning combination.
No matter who you are or what you’re trying to do as an entrepreneur, you can find success by emulating the techniques entrepreneurs before you have used and personalizing them for your own business. Are you ready to take action?
How often have we heard motivational speakers say that an entrepreneur must have a positive mindset?
Before I go any further, I want to discuss the idea of a mindset. We all have a brain. In that brain, we place our thoughts, feelings, ideas and our concepts. When you start your own business, your business will take a lot of your time. In addition, you will have to sustain that business for as long as maybe 3 years before you see a return on investment.
Their will be many times in which you will want to quit and you will not want to invest any more capital to keep your company afloat. To give yourself the best chance of sticking it through, you must develop a positive mindset. Developing a positive mindset can be acquired by:
1. Listening to powerful gurus or motivational speakers
2. Listening to uplifting music or music that makes you happy
3. Read positive books or quotes
4. Hang around positive people and strong-minded people
Once your mind is conditioned to focus on the positive perspective on any situation, you will be able to get through the tough and negative times easier.
Me personally, I have had my share of negative moments and times I wanted to quit. However, because of my positive mindset, I was able to get through the tough time and start collecting a lot of returns on my investments.
I started out as a broke college student with a dead end job. I worked on week-ends because I was a full time college student majoring in computer engineering. I had to keep my company afloat on the little paycheck I was collecting every two weeks. However, because I hanged around positive people and only surrounded myself with positive quotes on my walls, the negative times did not crush me.
Bonus Tip For Developing A Positive Mindset!
You must get educated. I recommend doing some research and educating yourself on the type of business or industry you will like to be a part of. If you are able to find out all the requirements it will take for you to succeed in your business, you will be able to brace yourself when the tough times happen.
Luckily for you, there are organizations of powerful business experts who offer free pieces of advise and information to those who are interested in building their own brand from scratch.
It’s not that entrepreneurs are born with it, but the mindset of becoming one and doing things differently is what makes them a different breed.
Life of an entrepreneur is not easy. Every step towards success requires a lot of hard work, planning, perseverance and persistence.
Nothing comes by luck. Leadership, Patience, time management and of course a positive attitude is a must for them.
A famous quote from Picasso “it took me a lifetime to become a master” clearly explains what it takes for entrepreneurs to become a success.
Every day is full of Struggles. Luxurious things are far gone. They live in the world where the opportunity if doesn’t knock on the door, they build one. That’s how entrepreneurs think and go on.
The challenges they face and how they handle them is worth understanding.
At times being an entrepreneur has its challenges. You find yourself sitting in a corner finding it difficult to come up with simple solutions to the challenges in hand.
I have had a chance to work with quite a few entrepreneurs and have seen them handle challenges using simplest of techniques.
Here are 6 simple tips which will help any entrepreneurs handle challenges:
1. You Can’t Walk Alone
See, the question is not how they handle the problem but what creates the problem.
Is it the team? Is the team doing the job properly? Or, something is not fitting?
A team’s performance can very well be the difference in between success and failure of an Entrepreneur. Proper team with positive thinking can lead you to the top of stairs.
If you are an entrepreneur and spending most of your time in a negative environment you are landing nowhere. Finding good team is a key factor to handle the challenges faced. With a good team you can delegate work and make them a part of your struggle, where every struggle leads to positive results.
2. Approach Problems with Positive Thinking and a Proper Strategy
Problems are a part of daily routine for startups. Nothing can be accomplished without positive thinking and strength to face those problems.
Every time you see yourself failing, don’t give up. Stress is a factor of negative impact.
Focus and think of the positive things in life. A simple thought related to past successes or the very reason you started your company are well enough to take you out of negativity.
Take your time, think and get your act together.
There is no way you cannot overcome the challenge at hand.
3. A Healthy Routine Leads to a Healthy Mind
Some of the most neglected things by entrepreneurs are the most essential elements to help them succeed. Every day you meet entrepreneurs who have back trouble, sleeping disorder which adversely affects their work. The simplest things in life-like sleep, exercise, healthy diet and time management are the most neglected ones.
Entrepreneurs forget that the best way to deal with the challenges they face in day today life involves a healthy body and a healthy mind frame. To dedicate your self to work requires a dedicated mind, which can only be possible if you are well fed, well slept and follow a daily routine of exercises.
Entrepreneurs are all about dedication. Trust me, working all day and night without proper food proper sleep does not allow your body to work with 100% efficiency. It inadvertently leads to health-related issues and stress.
4. Learning to Handle Multi-Tasking
Multi-tasking is a challenge. Entrepreneurs must multi task every minute, every hour.
Inability to multi task effectively takes a toll on the work entrepreneurs do. Don’t mix up everything or you will end up sitting in the corner of your field. It is impossible to focus on one particular thing at a time, there is team handling, money management, business plans creation, etc, etc.
But if you mix up everything thing, there will be no work happening as per the plan. Try making a timetable or a schedule your week. Follow your routine, it’s a slow process but working likewise will help you longterm.
Also, usage of scheduling, task management apps or simple schedules like Google calendar can help you plan your work and handle the challenges of work in a smart way.
5. If You Don’t Understand, Ask
Over the time of entrepreneurship, entrepreneurs at times turn in to aloof creatures who are afraid of asking their team for help or owning up to mistakes.
To ask someone for help is a difficult job for them which at times, makes their life more difficult.
There can be challenging tasks which their team members can do better than them but they being the boss will find it hard to own up and do the job themselves.
Asking queries to someone who works under you does you no harm. In fact, it shows you as a mature personality who has no qualms in asking what they do not understand.
6. Add Challenges To Your Daily Routine
It’s for sure that you as an Entrepreneur will have challenges, problems every time you take a new step. Don’t try to run from them or avoid. Do not let Procrastination become a part of your life.
Avoiding challenging tasks and putting them for a later date will only make them more difficult for you.
These are some lessons for those trying to setup startups.
Mistakes are a part of our day today life but learning from them and ensuring they are not repeated in future is what makes successful Entrepreneurs.
Entrepreneurs think differently, work differently as they are busy building something out of the box, disrupting existing marketspace and building innovative products.
A positive attitude and discipline is all they need to handle day to day challenges.
Getting a good business mentor online is not as easy as cakewalk. You know that in order to bring your business to the amazing level, you do need a good mentor who will give you relevant information and direct you in the right direction. But, do you know how to find a mentor online for your business start up? Well, you need not worry since an easy guide is being provided to you below. This guide will help you immensely in order to get a good mentor online.
First, you need to lay focus on those people, who have the same values as you have. It is natural that you will not need a mentor who is dull and dunce as such type of mentor can create lots of problems for you. Your mentor needs to have lots of experience and a successful business. In fact, you need someone who has their own flourishing business so that you are able to pursue their footsteps. Your mentor should have many years experience and has remained stoic in many pitfalls in which you will get into. In this way, your mentor will be capable of warning you so that you do not get to face those pitfalls altogether.
With the help of Internet, you will be able to access the customers throughout the world. So, it is very important to know how to have your business marketed online. It is not as easy as most of the people opine and there is a right way as well as a wrong way to go about it. Another pertinent thing to search for in a business mentor is accessibility. You need to ensure that they are easily available to you. There is hardly any point in hiring a mentor who takes weeks to hear back from you. So, as a result much can happen to your business in some days.
You can search even Google for mentor. You can search their name and see what they have been up to and what other people have to say about such mentor. This is the added advantage of the internet. You can get things regarding companies and people. Go through thoroughly and check out that the business mentor, who you are going to choose, is one who fulfills all the conditions as per requirement. By this way, you will get chance to flourish with your business.
Earning Money From Comfort Of Home
A most delightful aspect regarding earning money online is that you can do it from your own home. Obviously, it is not that easy and it majorly depends on what industry are you operating in. However, generally speaking, working from home gives you a lot of flexibility when you are working over web as compared to the traditional approach of working.
To top it all, working online permits you to choose the sort of work you would like to do. Imagine working from home on a subject that you like and enjoy doing?
Putting Plans Into Actions
Generally the idea of making money online sounds good and, however it is just not enough. Rather you have to look at the ways as to how you are going to work it out, what will be the plan of action and how you are going to execute it. Working online does not need to be diligent work yet you do need to comprehend what you need to attain and how you mean to get there.
Internet Entrepreneur Benefits
There is nothing better than becoming an entrepreneur, that too of an online business. There is truly nothing like taking control of your future, being your own manager and obviously having the capacity to work from home. In today’s world, a significant number of individuals are simply thankful to have proper jobs but at times you must feel increased melancholy at the end of the month as you get same stipend or wage irrespective of how hard you have worked for the whole day or month.
When you make yourself ready to work from home and earn money through an online channel, you get an innate motivation that you can earn more if you work hard, which is the best approach for doing a business. In case you’re not anxious about diligent work then you will realize that your hard work is going to pay off and you’ll be compensated.
What You Need To Do?
There are loads of small e-enterprises that you can run online or approaches you can use to earn revenue over the web. You can set yourself up as a consultant through websites, for example, people per hour, offer your artworks through Etsy or download an aide for turning into an online entrepreneur and see what plans and impulse that provides for you.