The entrepreneurial spirit won’t die easily. Most successful business owners claim they were born with a desire to be wealthy and make an impact, but that’s not to say they left the womb (or even university!) with all the essential skills required to take a business from a fledgling idea to a multimillion-maker. Successful entrepreneurs are prepared to learn. Here are 5 areas you’ll need to master to be one of them:
If you’re doing business on your own as an entrepreneur, you’d be forgiven for thinking communicating with others isn’t vital for you. And perhaps at the start, as you’re conducting research and putting together your marketing strategies, this is true. Solopreneurs can get away with doing a lot of work alone in the early days.
Yet growing your business depends on successful communication, on all platforms. You need to be able to compile an engaging yet professional email, answer the phone (without freaking out) and understand how to get the right attention via your website and social media. And then there’s the offline world of networking, proven beneficial by even the most tech-inclined entrepreneurs today.
For those who are used to working under the orders of others, communicating as a leader can be daunting and unfamiliar territory. The easiest way to adapt, take inspiration from entrepreneurs who inspire you. Sign-up to newsletters and social media communications from business leaders in the same industry and learn how they speak to their customers. This can be a helpful starting point as you get to understand how others communicate to followers, but becoming a successful entrepreneur involves learning how to find your own style and the right language to connect with your customers in line with your brand.
When you start to meet face-to-face with potential clients or new staff, in-person communicate will have a huge impact on where your business goes next. Pay attention to others in business who are already having the success you strive for. Consider mentorship from someone else who has been-there-done-that and can advise on the best approaches for dealing with your teams and clientele.
Investing in a communication workshop may seem a ‘nicety’ you can’t afford in the start-up phase. but if you’re struggling with how to convey yourself effectively in business then consider the positive impact advanced communication skills will have in the long-term.
A good way to test your effectiveness as a communicator is to pay attention to how people react to you. If you’re not sure whether you’re making your point clear, politely ask if you’re making sense and give them the opportunity to get clarification.
Whether you’re just starting to build your business or you’re looking for a way to expand your company, entrepreneurs need to understand the power of branding. Branding is far beyond having a nice logo and company colour scheme; branding is the creation of a cohesive image of your business, that customers can recognise both visually and psychologically. Your brand is your chance to represent everything your business stands for. It allows you to capture the essence of the way you do business through your language, imagery, and behaviour.
The way you present your business becomes your brand whether you plan it or not. So it’s crucial that you do plan how you want to be seen, online and off.
Think carefully about your long-term objectives for your business. What do you want to achieve? What do you want to be known for, both in terms of your products and your customer service?
Brainstorm words that you want to represent your company. Do you want to be known as reliable and knowledgeable? Fun and youthful? Sexy and innovative? The words you relate to your business should be used to shape every aspect of your business, from the words you use in your emails to the graphic design of your marketing materials.
Go further by analysing your business as if it were a person. What would the ideal personality of your business be? What are the beliefs, values, and driving purposes of your business?
Our personality shapes how we represent ourselves; the way we dress, the way we communicate, the goals we set for ourselves. Clearly defining your business personality will not only help your customers relate to your company, it will help guide your future business choices making difficult decisions much easier.
The key part for you as an entrepreneur is to know your business comprehensively. Don’t expect to be an expert at how you deliver your branding. As a successful entrepreneur, you don’t need to be an expert in graphic design or content creation, you simply need to know what you want so you can outsource these tasks to professionals accordingly.
Ultimately, great branding is about representing your brand with authenticity. Don’t fall into the trap of copy-catting those brands you love in an attempt to emulate what’s working for others.
Spend time thinking carefully about what you believe in, what you want to stand for, and how you can communicate this to your ideal customers in a way which will get them excited to do business with you.
Sales are perhaps the hardest area to master for new entrepreneurs. Encouraging people to give away their hard earned cash is not something that comes naturally to everyone… If you’re planning on having a shop floor sales team you may think the process of sales doesn’t relate to you at all. But you are effectively a salesperson every time you talk about your business.
Every time you make a pitch, negotiate with another service provider, or send out your latest e-newsletter – you’re selling yourself and your business. Your success depends on your comfortability with sales, and the skills you possess to close a deal or get people to take action (like promote you with a ‘share’ on Facebook).
Forget the misconception that selling is always pushy and sleazy. The process of selling can be as relaxed and enjoyable as if you were just sharing news of an exciting product or service with friends.
First and foremost, being an effective salesperson begins with believing in your products and the customers who will benefit from them. If you start having sales conversations with no other motive than to make money, you’ll find you are quickly disheartened when you hear those inevitable ‘nos’ which are part of launching a new product.
When you approach sales with a genuine interest in those you are selling to, conversations will not only be pleasurable but will give you further clues into how to conduct your business for maximum success.
You’ll soon find that potential customers come more easily from being authentic and open during the sales process than they do from a hard sales pitch. Today’s consumers don’t want to be sold to. But are happy to be invited to find out more about products by brands they feel they can trust and relate to.
Your main focus in effective sales is to focus on truly helping, rather than selling to, your potential client; do this by offering them a solution (your product/service) which will solve a problem.
The start-up phase of any business is manic. There’s a lot to think about with many decisions to be made, often in areas which are completely new to us. If you’re starting out as an entrepreneur, make sure not to get too lost in the moment. Business success relies on careful strategic planning. Both for the long and short-term.
Begin by making it a non-negotiable that you sit down and schedule out your week, both the tasks you need to complete and the strategic approach you’ll be taking. What is your overarching goal for the week? It’s crucial you make a weekly plan to see this happens, or before you know it a month will have whizzed by and you will have achieved very little – distracted instead by low-impact tasks and procrastination.
Next, set dates in your diary to plan and review your bigger business goals and how you are progressing towards them. When you’re starting out in business you may have a general idea of what you are trying to achieve by no clue how to get there! This is normal. Successful entrepreneurs know they will need to educate themselves on the possible routes to take, and consider which strategy is best for them.
You may wish to seek the advice of a coach or mentor who has been through the same process, or speak with other entrepreneurs online or in-person. LinkedIn and Facebook Groups are a great place to connect with others who have recently launched their businesses and can relate to some of the pressures and anxieties that come with exploring new business territories. Here you can discuss what has and hasn’t worked for others and take ideas to push you forward.
Remember, just because a strategy has worked for one entrepreneur it doesn’t guarantee that it will work for you. We’ve already discussed the importance of being authentic in business and there are many strategies for securing customers which will not be aligned with your brand or how you wish to conduct yourself. Don’t be afraid to try different strategies, knowing that there’s no one-size fits all for business success.
If you are seeking professional strategic support, be careful not to subscribe to the notion you will guarantee success if you follow a particular set of marketing methods or sales techniques. The right strategies for your business are dependent on a number of factors, including your goals, your products/services, your values, your ideal customers, your budget and your timescale.
It’s true, you don’t need any sort of financial qualification to be a successful entrepreneur and reach your income targets. However, it is useful to know how to manage basic business finances and have an understanding of what cash flow, profit margins, funding, and income streams means in relation to your company.
Even if you plan on outsourcing your financial management (a clever mood to free up time even if you are a financial expert yourself), don’t lose power over your business by being financially ignorant. The greater the level of comfort you can achieve around your business finances; the more confidence you will have in your business future.
When it comes to being on top of your finances, tracking is an important aspect of being a successful entrepreneur. You should be able to say exactly how much money you’ve made in the last week/month/year so that you can track your progress and examine your income in relation to weekly/monthly/annual expenses. It’s shocking how many entrepreneurs do not have this basic awareness of their funds, but is a clear sign their business will never be able to fulfil its full financial potential.
Successful entrepreneurs are excellent at educating themselves before making big financial decisions too. They won’t let a lack of funds stop them from achieving the goals they set out for themselves, and will find a way to raise the capital they need (often choosing creativity over a commitment to loans and credit cards).
Crowdfunding is a brilliant way to raise funds and stay in control of the finances you gain, whether you want to use them for start-up costs, research or launching a new business. It allows you to raise money directly from the people who are interested in using your company in the future, giving you cash funds and a confidence boost.
We’re here to help you raise money and exposure for your business so you can take your vision to the next step. Start your first crowdfunding campaign today and raise money to help with launching your new product or brand into the world.