Becoming an entrepreneur is a lot like the stock market or its mechanics. Passion is a good part of it, too. Is your HEART (or “ticker”) in it? Your brand is meaningful and SYMBOLic. We tend to do things we like, buy things we love. Or vice versa. You take risks, but can do research and proper planning to mitigate much of that. I should know I used to be a trader about 15 years ago. It’s fast-moving. It’s KNOWING what you want to own. The best investors intimately understand the companies they invest in, so it’s more of a calculated risk that’s being taken.
Did you known the best mitigation strategy as an investor (to lessen risk) is diversification?
And we have to remember the credo of investing: “Buy low and sell high.” If you sell a stock too soon – and not above the price you bought it – it’s a loser. Same goes for entrepreneurship. Are YOU an entrepreneur “loser”? I’m not. I won’t be.
This post is about what you can do to NOT be an entrepreneurial loser either, if just getting started. First and foremost, you cannot give up too quickly. I am not a millionaire. I am not a self-deemed expert or Instagram hero (but proud of the traction). I am just like you, I surmise. Are you doing the grind 7 – 7 and then trying to start your business? It’s easy to feel like a loser, right? There is no time… Cut your losses.
Don’t start jumping onto the BEAR band wagon. Bears like to see you down. Discouragement makes for easy prey.
By the way, this piece is for anyone interested in starting a business (even if on the side) and pertinent for kids, too. We hope there will be more kids trying their hand at starting a business. The BARE essentials to getting started…
Is your stock ‘Bullish”?
Notice, not Bully-ish. Want to know the quickest way to be a loser? Be a bully.
Winners make progress. They keep growing. Small victories count… upward trending…
1) You have an idea and company name in mind – GREAT first step…
This is an important piece of things, believe me. It’s a commitment that you really want to give it a GO. This is likely followed by securing a domain name of the same.
Action: Google a reputable registrar than can secure a domain for you via ICANN. One of the most popular companies that does this is Go Daddy.
My first brand, Ballyhoozoo, was (is) very meaningful; the experience in picking a clever name. Having a back story evangelizes. Building supporting values and a mission provides context. It all counts. So if this is your starting point – not too shabby.
You don’t need to be a full-fledged business yet. Your stock price just went up .22 cents, but what’s wrong with that?
2) You created some social media accounts…
The barrier to entry into business these days is virtually non-existent. No more brick and mortar where you needed monstrous upfront capital. You needed billboard advertising, radio ads, and inventory.
I started with modest means though I have dumped more into the business in recent years. A flashy site and other elements of a start-up can be costly… but not always necessary. If you have a social media presence and effective message the top-notch website and fancy marketing collateral isn’t as important. People buy from people, so increase your presence online and be proud that your stock is rising.
Action: Research the top 8 social media platforms / tools, and determine which ones make the most sense for your business. Twitter? LinkedIn? Facebook? Snapchat? There are quite a few out there, but the best ones for YOUR business are dependent upon your type of business. My suggestion is to pick 2 or 3 and build a good presence.
Your stock price just went up another .81 cents, KEEP CLIMBING!
3) Congratulations, you have followers!
I know that business and social media experts will say this isn’t hugely important and that its MOST important to have engagement… I agree, but it starts by building your following. It’s awareness. Are you in demand? This is similar to my 2) above but the key here is upward trending. Again, just like a stock.
But important, don’t focus solely on getting followers. It becomes a game for many out there to follow-unfollow, follow-unfollow. I don’t have time for that. Like me or don’t like me, but why play games? Maybe they are day traders?
Besides, it’s best to follow accounts you like – hold onto a stock that you like – for the long-term. Invest in fundamentals. Build relationships. THAT is where business comes from.
Action: Get an app like “Unfollowers” for Instagram or “Twitter Insight” for Twitter. Support brands and people who support you, but don’t waste time on those who are selfish.
The stock market works best when investors join in rallies. Even better, maybe you are shareholders of the SAME stock. WIN together…
4) Allocating time…
When first starting a business, I find this to be the hardest one. Most of my readers are starting businesses on the side. They aren’t quitting their job “cold turkey” and going for it. Nothing wrong with that if you do, but the trick is in how you spend time.
How do you NOT be a loser when it comes to allocating time?
For me, I try to make this part of my schedule. I am not always successful because things come up. There are more pressing things especially those whom have kids would know. But if you have a target that is REACHABLE and either set a certain number of hours each week to work on your business or set specific goals (either works fine) you will be successful.
Here’s what I do:
- Specific tasks daily (example: Tuesday is blogging, Monday is business development / sales, and Sunday is social media planning, to name just a few)
- Write things down – I do worse against my plan when I am not tracking (No real commitment)
- Don’t make all tasks too large and lofty… Small wins give motivation
For the latter, It could be something small like wrote up a blog post (Not edited yet). Or ordered business cards. If you put things on there like create entirely new website with flash animation – and expect to accomplish it in a day – it can be demoralizing. Those things are important too, but make them part of a monthly or even quarterly goal.
Remember, you have a full-time job. Be realistic.
Action: Make a plan. Doesn’t have to be perfect. In fact, too perfect can be tough to accomplish. Start by writing down ONE key item you want to accomplish for each day of the week. Then, you can make 1 or 2 more lofty goals to complete each month.
Your stock price has increased 8% since you bought it – WOW!
5) Sales Sales Sales…
Give yourself a chance. Again, take it from me. This has to be part of your strategy from the very beginning.
I started a business without E-Commerce (YES, it’s true) and wondered why I wasn’t generating business? While I am highly skilled with what my business offers this doesn’t mean you will be an expert entrepreneur out of the chute. Similar to investing, you have to learn the basics on how it all works. Supply and demand, right?
Now, I am smart as they come (confidence people, confidence), but this was a bit of an oversight. Okay, HUGE oversight. At some point, you need to address the sales situation. That is the rationale behind having E-Commerce (How will someone purchase your products or services?).
I have learnt that the best recipe is to spend a portion of each day doing revenue-generating activities. Here is what I mean:
- Cold calling clients that make sense for your business (Yuck, but could be advantageous)
- Networking in LinkedIn (And engaging with others)
- Working on a sales funnel for your website… What is the GOAL when someone visits?
- Creating content falls into this bracket too, but distributing it is even more important
With content, be careful not to rely on platforms that really don’t give you a chance to sell your product or service. Not every social media tool is worth the time. While I enjoy Instagram I find it isn’t always most conducive to selling Project Management Services. I also realize that my messaging needed to be different. Now I try to sell my services to influencers and tech professionals who may know start-up companies or entrepreneurs needing PM help. I have realized that there aren’t a lot of businesses who search for “Project Management”.
However, LinkedIn is a much better experience. There are plenty of businesses and entrepreneurs at early stages that can use a skilled PM. Much of my focus for B2B is there now.
In sum, creating and distributing content is revenue-generating, but in my mind still not as good as direct reach-outs. You HAVE to engage.
Action: Create a short blurb so you can reach out to your key audience. Don’t sound robotic, because no one will bother would you. Be real. Be honest. And make sure you follow-up. This all doesn’t happen in 2 days.
“Hi <Name>, I am a recognized social media expert who has worked with more than 50 start-ups and I would like to share some secrets to my success in helping my clients’ businesses grow. To start, hoping we can connect and get to know each other if that’s okay…”
Uh-oh, your stock just went down by $1.95 (Loss of 11%)… THIS DOESN’T MEAN YOU SELL NOW… Business is full of ups and downs, remember this is long-term.
6) You have a cohesive vision…
This is about putting it all together. Not just the now, but what do things look like 12 months from now? Do you see a path? You might have a key product, but maybe looking to add more into the mix. Perhaps you have a service, but not a great website. You know what you NEED, but just haven’t put it together yet.
It’s okay. Don’t be too hard on yourself. Having a vision is what’s most important. Make a plan to get there.
Action: Make a loose plan for the next 24 months. You don’t need fancy tools. Don’t buy someone’s expert calendar through Instagram to keep you on track. Use a knapkin. Use lipstick on a plain sheet of white paper. It doesn’t matter in as long as it’s 1) documented and 2) You are following it. More twists and turns will unfold along the way, but you have to get into the thick of things. “In the trenches” is where the magic happens…
My journey might be different from yours, but we all end up in the same place (hopefully). You are NOT a loser. A loser is someone who gives up or just stops trying. Imagine if Bill Gates just called it quits. Imagine if you bought Microsoft before it became a household name?
Remind yourself of your many successes to date. Keep on pushing. Grab the BULL by the horns. “Windows” are just as effective as doors. (My Microsoft plug)
Stock price up to it’s 52 week high, I can see the future. You hung in there. You are STILL going. No bears in sight.
7) Diversify… (Drum roll please)
Reduce risk by “not putting all your eggs in one basket.” It’s interesting to me that everyone is so hep to preach “focus” or “do one thing great”, when it isn’t necessarily the best long-term strategy for a business. Sure, if you do that ONE thing effectively and start to grow quicker (high risk = high reward) you are a hero. But not everyone picks the winning idea. Winning stock.
But let me propose this. What if we got it wrong? What if it makes sense to diversify – much like a prudent investor. I designed Bizzeebobber with this premise in mind. I serve multiple audiences, but NOT everyone. I Cater to kids and tweens with the Bizzeebobber platform; It’s all about Career Discovery. We have created synergies with Working professionals and even the B2B audience. I won’t bore you with all the details, but I have multiple avenues. It may not all work. I am not going to grow QUICK. But remember what I said earlier, when you are doing work after work (or a start-up while working full-time) you only have so much time in a day. You are looking to supplement income.
Truthfully, if I didn’t have a full-time job I would take the same approach. I don’t believe in becoming obsolete.
I think back to Neutron Jack and his philosophy while at the helm of GE (General Electric). If you cannot be the top 1 or 2 services or offerings in a space – you should dissolve it immediately. I am paraphrasing, but I think the key variable here is time. Are we evaluating this after 3 months? 1 year? And we aren’t a behemoth business like GE… Apples and oranges.
You see, over time your business, brands, and such, will morph. We are all trying to be the best of the best. But there are also niches. You might be hitting one of those niches within your model. Will I change to put better focus into that specific niche if it comes to it? Sure. But right now I am about finding opportunity. Diversifying risk. Providing value to many versus 1 select group. I love what we do.
Again, not selling to EVERYONE. Just the groups where I think we can provide great value. We might be small, but big businesses do the same thing. They are diversified. Its perception. By the way, this is what drives the stock market. When you start out you are told that it’s a No-No to be too broad and unfocused. But when you are bigger it’s natural evolution into various areas. My point, why not start it that way?