StrategyDriven Entrepreneurship Article

Three Successful Entrepreneurs: The One Thing They’d Have Done Differently

It can be assumed that if you manage to make your business into a success, you made the right call at every point. You can look back over the road to your current position and feel happy, confident that everything went exactly as you planned it.

Except, that’s not necessarily the case.

One of the key traits of a successful entrepreneur is someone who understands what they have done correctly, yes. However, perhaps the most important ability is to understand what they have done wrong. To paraphrase an old quote; those who ignore history are doomed to repeat it.

For prospective entrepreneurs, learning the missteps of those who made their business flourish can provide invaluable insight. So, taken from three very different industries, let’s delve deeper into the one thing three very successful business owners wish they had done differently.

THE CRAFTY ONE

StrategyDriven Entrepreneurship Article
Photo courtesy of Pixabay

Anna, 42, began her business completely by accident – and those are her words!

“I made a blanket for a friend of mine,” she explains. “They put a photo of it on Instagram, and it went sort of viral really – or as viral as a blanket can anyway! The home community really embraced it and my friend put me in touch with people who wanted to buy their own.”

Now in her second year of business, Anna’s company is flourishing and now employs three members of staff. “We work remotely,” she says, “they do a lot of the marketing side – that’s not really my thing. I like to make the blankets and I take some of the photos too. It’s definitely important to hire people you trust, who can do things that you can’t.”

So what does she wish she’d done differently?

“There was a time when I had so many orders that I couldn’t meet them all,” she reflects, with a tone of regret in her voice. “I ended up having the orders be late, and there were some angry customers as a result of it. The one piece of advice I’d give is that communication is everything,” she emphasizes the last point. “If you’re going to be late, tell people. I didn’t and some of those I was late with never bought from me again. It’s by far my biggest regret.”

BUILDING SUCCESS

StrategyDriven Entrepreneurship Article
Photo courtesy of Pixabay

“I knew from the moment I started working as a bricklayer that I wanted more,” Michael, who is 58 and has owned his company for 22 years, “it just wasn’t good enough for me.”

To try and pursue his idea of working for himself, Michael went back to school. “It was tough,” he says, “I’d been earning a steady income for a few years by the time I went back. I had to juggle that job and the course, which messed my life up for awhile. I needed business qualifications, though, and that was the only way to get them.”

By the time Michael was in his early thirties, he had some business acumen and managed to convince a bank manager to take a risk on him. “I got a startup loan,” he explains, “I think the guy liked me. Doesn’t work like that anymore, but back then, you could convince someone to take a shot. Thankfully he did, and now I employ about 20 staff permanently and another extra 10 laborers over summer. I’ve been lucky.”

So what does he consider his biggest mistake?

“Not being quick enough to adapt,” he admits. “Being an older guy, I got a bit stuck in my ways about a decade ago and lost some business because of it. I was really resistant to things like laser surveillance and Turbo Sockets. It was slowing construction projects down, especially when I was doing renovations and speed was of the essence. The solutions were there – I just didn’t want them,” he laments. “I was convinced the ‘old way’ was the best way,” Tony continues. “I shouldn’t have done it. Move with the times. The annoying thing is that when I did, I realized how much easier those kind of gadgets can make life – what an idiot,” he rolls his eyes at his former self. “Now I’m the first one jumping in when there’s some new gadget I can play with. Customers don’t respect you if you don’t innovate.”

So don’t be afraid to adapt to changing times? “Absolutely,” he concurs. “Times change. If you don’t change with them, you’re done for.”

THE STYLED EYE

StrategyDriven Entrepreneurship Article
Photo courtesy of Pixabay

Melody, who is now 30, has run her personal style consultancy for three years after a slow start. “I’m no more qualified now for anything than when I left school at 18,” she admits. “I didn’t even have relevant experience!”

She works for herself, though took on a secretary in January. An accountant does her annual tax returns, but the rest is up to her. “My biggest mistake is thinking that wasn’t possible,” she explains. “I was involved in a business in the same industry for a few years. I hated it, but I was so scared to try and go it alone.”

So how did she manage it? “I saved everything I could,” she recalls. “It wasn’t quick – it took me about a year to get all the cash I needed. I had to forgo my social life for awhile, which was tricky, and I got delayed as I took three months out when I had my daughter.”

Nevertheless, she managed to build up “about six months’” worth of expenses in savings. “With that behind me,” she continues, “I quit the company and cashed out my shares. They weren’t worth a lot, but it was a jumping off point. Then I started marketing myself as an individual to clients. About 40% chose to come with me, which is more than I ever dreamed.”

Establishment didn’t come quickly for Melody though; it wasn’t until her third year – the most recent – she turned a profit she could live on. “I’m okay now,” she says, “I got into some debt and had to double down and work hard, but it’s clear and all is looking good. I’m booked up for the next three months anyway! If I had my time again, I’d definitely take the jump to working by myself much faster – I’d be so much further along by now if I’d done that.”

Hopefully there’s some lessons from this trio of entrepreneurs’ that you can take into your own adventures in business!

StrategyDriven Entrepreneurship Article

Furnishing An Office On A Budget

StrategyDriven Entrepreneurship Article
Photo courtesy of Pixabay

Moving into an office can be expensive, especially if you’re having to buy all the furnishings for the first time. Tables, chairs, computers and other machinery can all add up. For those on a budget, here are a few tips for furnishing that office on the cheap without it looking cheap.

Get equipment on lease

You can often save money on expensive machinery by hiring it instead of buying it. This can be particularly useful for industrial equipment that you rarely use, or machinery that you may only need on a temporary basis. Rental companies can also often provide the most high tech equipment – equipment that would often be far too expensive to buy.

Learn to share

There may be some items that you can share. Having multiple printers could be a waste of money if you don’t have to print things off often. Similarly, not everyone may need a phone by their desk. If your office is open plan and people aren’t calling every minute of the day, having a few phones dotted about the place may be all you need. Consider also buying long desks that allow multiple people to share, rather than individual desks for each person. Encouraging a more communal feel could be beneficial in many social businesses.

Look for online deals

You can often find online promotions on office furniture if you’re looking in the right places. There are many sites such as DontPayFull.com that sell coupons to be used on tech or furniture. It’s worth also keeping an eye on social media for office furniture businesses doing competitions or promotions.

Second-hand furniture can also be worth looking into. You can often find ex-business owners on the likes of Gumtree.com trying to flog office desks and other equipment that they no longer need. When buying second-hand items online, always make sure that they supply detailed information on the condition as well as pictures. If you can meet up in person first, this might allow you to check the condition for yourself first – useful with expensive industrial equipment or heavy furniture.

Hit the sales

Various times of the year are brilliant for buying new office equipment. If you’re looking for computers or electronics, Cyber Monday usually has some great deals. The January Sales is also prime time to save money on equipment – the demand is very low during this period as companies are just recovering from Christmas, and so office furniture companies have to compete hard against one another to get sales.

Go paperless

Going paperless isn’t just good for the environment, it saves costs. Sharing everything digitally will prevent the need to buy a printer and all the other costs that come with it. Less printing also means less need for storage such as filing cabinets and shelves. Everything from handbooks to contracts can be made digital. You can even sign documents digitally nowadays using the DocuSign app. Trial this out to see if it works for your business.

StrategyDriven Marketing and Sales Article

7 Reasons Your Website Conversion Rate Is Low

We often hear about the importance of website traffic. SEO and marketing companies often promise to multiply their clients’ traffic by huge amounts. But, in reality, traffic means nothing if your website users don’t turn into customers. In fact, if you are getting tons of traffic, but users are simply visiting your website and then leaving, it is something to be very alarmed about. It means that there is something wrong with your website, and this is why your conversion rate is low. Are you making one of the following mistakes?

StrategyDriven Marketing and Sales Article
Photo courtesy of Pixabay

  1. You are attracting the wrong audience – Often, conversion rates suffer when you are attracting the wrong audience to your website. This occurs when you are targeting the wrong keywords, posting content on unrelated websites, and generating content that does not appeal to your target market.
  2. Your content is uninspiring – The importance of interesting, original, engaging and informative content cannot be ignored. Getting users to your website is one thing, but you need to keep them there, and the only way to do that is with inspiring content that encourages them to engage. Take a look at this blog post for more information on creating content that converts.
  3. Your website lacks consistency – Your internal CTAs and external campaigns set specific expectations, and your sign up pages and landing pages need to deliver on these expectations. Message inconsistency is a huge problem that will result in people looking for a business that is more reliable.
  4. You aren’t tracking current website performance – This is one of the biggest mistakes business owners make today. How are you ever going to boost the performance of your website if you don’t know how it is performing at present? With expert analytics and reporting for your small business website, you will be able to determine where you are going wrong, enabling you to make the necessary improvements that will boost your conversion rate.
  5. Your calls to action are vague – In simple terms, if you don’t tell your website users the steps they should take, they aren’t going to take them. You could design the best home page in the world, but if it doesn’t lead anywhere, the bounce rate is still going to be high. Your calls to action need to be clear and specific to what the user is looking for.
  6. You don’t use persuasive language – The chances are you are going to need to be persuasive, unless you have an offer that is completely irresistible. You need to address the problems that your target audience experience, and paint a picture of what they can expect once they have purchased your product or taken advantage of your service.
  7. Your product or service is ill-defined – Lastly, one of the main reasons why conversion rates are high is when a firm’s product or service is not defined effectively. You may have an incredible product or service to offer, but if you aren’t doing it justice in terms of the description, no one is going to be interested. Write the description from the customer’s perspective; think about what matters to them most.
StrategyDriven Marketing and Sales Article

30 Minutes To Build Your Freelancing Blog

If you’ve always had a soft spot for the digital world, you may be interested in embracing the blogger life. Bloggers work primarily online – although they can do their research and meetings offline too if this is necessary for their articles – and have found a way to monetize their writing hobby. Here’s a little hint for you, it isn’t the actual content that generates revenues, but the advertising that can be published on the website, as display ads or as part of a link building exchange – all in the sake of white hat SEO. So here’s how to build your perfect blog site in 30 minutes only.

StrategyDriven Marketing and Sales Article

Photo courtesy of Pixabay

Time 0-5 Min: Get The Basics Sorted Out

Before you start writing, you need to consider how you want your blog to be called. This will be the domain name of your blog, which is the URL of your home page. Domain names are renowned for being extremely difficult to find, so if you need a little inspiration, why not try a domain name generator like this one. It’s a brilliant way to find awesome combinations! Additionally, you will need to sort out a server solution for your website – here for ideas – , as most blogging platforms only offer limited storage space for free. If you want to become a professional blogger, you’ll need to produce a lot of content; ergo you need a lot of storage space!

Time 5-10 Min: Shape It

Now, it’s time to be looking out for design and layout options. First of all, think about your logo, as a logo will make your blog appear professional. You can find plenty of affordable tools online to design your logo, or you can simply get in touch with a designer on Fiverr.com if you want a unique touch. You will find some great blogging platforms, such as WordPress, that offers hundreds of customizable layouts to give your blog its identity. Some come even for free, so in a matter of clicks, you can have the template you want.

Time 10-25 Min: Build Your Brand Message

It’s now time to prepare all the main elements of your blog: Build your brand online, as seen on the blog. You need to know what your brand is, which means you need to know what makes you unique as a blogger. Are you a mother of three talking about parenting? Are you a survivor of a disease who wants to help people recover their health issues? Define who you are, and make sure to explain it in your About-me page. Also, add a contact page with your blog-related social media platforms – which you need to create – and a contact form for readers who want to contact you.

Time 25-30 Min: Go Life

Last, but not least, your first post on the blog needs to be as good as you can get it. How to write the perfect blog? It’s simple. Focus on who you are writing for – for instance, if you are the mother of three mentioned earlier, it’s likely that you are writing to all parents, future, and present – to identify what your audience is interested in. It will give you the boundaries of topics you can discuss. And then start writing your first post! It doesn’t have to be long – 300 to 500 words is a healthy average. Finally, check your grammar before publishing!

StrategyDriven Entrepreneurship Article

Build Your Small Business Brand in 10 Easy Steps

StrategyDriven Entrepreneurship Article
Photo courtesy of Pexels

1. Define what your brand is

Find your niche in the market. What are the special requirements or problems that your customers have and how can you help them to solve that. In order to do this effectively, you need to find out about brand competitive analysis and why you need it. This will establish what makes you unique.

2. Personify your brand

Think of your brand as a person who has their own distinct personality, opinions, beliefs and look. This helps you to build a picture.

3. Emotive brand positioning

Who does your brand hero-worship? This will shape your identity in all of your brand materials and communications.

4. Play the long game

Establishing a brand is a sprint and not a marathon. Dedicate some time to the planning stage. Make sure that you can deliver what you promise. This helps you to build long-term trust.

5. Be consistent

Experimenting with styles may be fun but it is confusing for the client. If you are consistent it will reinforce your brand character and people will know exactly what to expect.

6. Do not be boring

Whilst consistency is a good thing, being boring is not! Don’t just say the same thing over and over again. Instead, you should stick to the same message but find innovative new ways of stating it.

7. Coping other brands is not acceptable

Imitation may be the sincerest form of flattery but this is not the case in the business world. You can get into serious legal trouble by copying people. It also does not make good business sense. Consumers are on the hunt for brands that are original and authentic. They are looking for something that matches their beliefs and lifestyle. Many of the large brands have picked up on this and are trying to look like small independents.

8. Be bold and seize the day

The beauty of running a small business is that you do not have layers of bureaucracy to wade through when you want to make a change. This makes you supremely flexible and adaptable and enables you to react to changes in the market quickly. This gives you the edge over big business.

9. Don’t look cheap and desperate

It is always a good to offer discounts to attract customers but it is possible to overdo this. You risk diluting your brand positioning. As an alternative to cutting prices, you could offer more for the same price. This adds value without looking cheap. Promotions should be targeted and short-lived.

10. Try not to be too obvious

The days of printing your logo on everything and hoping for the best are over. Generate some intrigue and be a little more subtle and mysterious.