photo of an entrepreneur with open arms

The Entrepreneur’s Top 10 Steps for Success

Are you success ready?  If you’re ready to push boundaries and gain new business heights, then here are 10 entrepreneurial recipes for success. Now you can build a solid customer base, beat the competition, and ensure the continued long-term growth of your business.

Step #1: Focus on a niche

Focus on a narrow market you are genuinely interested in. Understand that you cannot be good at everything.  Build a reputation for being the best manufacturer, service provider, or retailer for your market segment.

#2: Think big while doing small things

Smaller businesses have a number of advantages over larger competitors:

  • More flexible
  • More responsive
  • More personalized service.

Capitalize on all areas where you have your strength and you can beat your big competitors anytime.

#3: Differentiate yourself from the competition

One of the hallmarks of successful entrepreneurs is that they offer unique solutions to customers. Do not copy your competitors. Make your products stand out by packaging them distinctly.

#4: Make a good first impression

Grab the first opportunity to impress your customers and clients—you may not get a second chance. Strive to always be professional and presentable in your ways and make sure you are knowledgeable about your business.

#5: Safeguard your business reputation

The success of your small business depends greatly on its reputation. The importance of building a good name for your business cannot be stressed enough. Your reputation for quality and dependability is the lifeline of your business.

#6: Aim to do better and better

The moment you think you’re the best is the time your career begins a downward slide. Thinking in terms of what’s the best imposes a limitation on yourself as well as your business. Get rid of the “This is how we’ve always done it” type of mentality. Instead, think of you how you can make things better today than yesterday. Don’t get stuck with what you think is the best. Instead strive to do things better and better each time.

#7: Pay attention to your customers’ needs

Make your customers feel important by listening and taking immediate action to answer their needs. Once you gain your customers’ trust, they will remain loyal to you and will refer to you to their friends, family and colleagues. There’s nothing more compelling and convincing than word-of-mouth recommendation from happy customers.

#8: Plan for success

A good plan helps you estimate costs, define business concepts, predict sales and control risks. Your plan is your roadmap to success. Without it, it’s like driving into a foreign land with no clue of where you’re going or how to get there.

#9: Be original

To ensure success in business, you need to stand out from the rest of the competition. What better way to do that than to be original and innovative with your offerings. Use change as catalyst for new product concepts and ideas. Also, keep pace with advancements in technology.

#10: Work smart

As an entrepreneur, you need to improve your time management skills as well as your personal productivity skills. In essence, working smart means getting rid of busy-work and doing the things that truly matter:

  • Assess every detail of the job
  • Make an outline of the things you wish to accomplish
  • Learn to say no. Deal with interruptions and unrealistic demands on your time
  • Avoid multi-tasking and focus on one task at a time.

Now according to David Rockefeller, “Success in business requires training and discipline and hard work. But if you’re not frightened by these things, the opportunities are just as great today as they ever were.”

photo of an inspired business team

How to Inspire Innovation and Deliver Profit and Productivity to Your Business

Did you know that innovation in business provides a tremendous competitive advantage? If you’re aiming at expanding your business, building your brand, delivering customer satisfaction and reaping a huge profit, then you need to innovate and inspire others to do the same.

As entrepreneur, one of the toughest challenges you’ll ever encounter is getting your people to think creatively. Successful innovation requires an open environment, a diverse source of ideas, and a fresh perspective while endeavoring to keep your everyday operations running smoothly.

Here are 10 ways of inspiring ideas and opportunities for innovation and growth.

#1: Face your fear of change

While consumers are always on the lookout for exciting new things and ideas, most business owners dread implementing new concepts. Create an open culture that allows challenging the status quo to help spawn a variety of innovative ideas.

#2: Listen to your clients

There will always be times when you will be short of creative energy. Create a focus group or take a survey online and listen to what your customers are saying about your brand.

#3: Brainstorm your employees

Ask your employees about what they think the company is doing well. Question them about what they think the company ought to be doing

#4: Encourage your employees to speak up

Invite each individual to speak up on what they think the organization is doing badly. Ask them how they would change things it were up to them to decide what to do. Apply the most worthwhile proposed solution immediately.

#5: Allow job rotation

Job rotation will help workers gain a wider perspective of your organization and help them gain valuable insight as to what strategies work and what do not with regard to delivering productivity and profit to your business.

#6: Don’t be afraid to do things differently

Do you simply conform to everyone? To be successful, you need to stand for what you believe in. Your determination to do things differently from what everyone else is doing is what makes you stand out from the rest of the competition. Be quick to identify and fill any untapped needs that your competitors may have missed.

#7: Hold an annual in-house innovation contest

An in-house innovation contest can be a fun way of encouraging your stakeholders to take an active part in innovation. You can divide your employees into teams and have each team work on a particular product or service niche.

#8: Add unusual services

One of the secrets to innovation success is to keep an eye for products or services that aren’t traditionally offered in your industry.

#9: Promote your idea

In 1975, a Kodak engineer invented the digital camera, but nobody understood why anyone would ever want to look at images on a TV screen and so they scrapped the idea. The lesson to be learned here is, don’t be like Kodak. Promote your innovative idea with all you’ve got.

#10: Eliminate fear of failure

Fear is the number one killer of innovation. When you have identified that fear dread of failure exists, immediately drive it out of your organization. Do not punish employees when their ideas fail to work or don’t “fit the mold.” Turn failure into something positive. Encourage your employees to use it as a learning experience and move on.

In light of today’s marketplace, the Internet and the rapidly rising global competition, the need for innovation is more vital than ever before. In the end, it is the innovation-focused business owner who will put their organization on a path of sustained growth and profitability.

Photo of business woman-Independence and Entrepreneurship — Life in a Free Enterprise Society

Independence and Entrepreneurship — Life in a Free Enterprise Society

 “Our interest will be to throw open the doors of commerce, and to knock off all its shackles, giving perfect freedom to all persons for the vent [sale] of whatever they may choose to bring into our ports, and asking the same in theirs.”  – Thomas Jefferson

Our Founding Fathers had the vision, the courage, and spirit to usher in independence at a time when the accepted model of government was monarchy.  They faced enemies on all fronts, but never gave up.  They fought very hard for the principles of independence until they brought forth a new nation—one that is “conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.”

Despite our relatively short 240 plus-year history, we, the people of United States of America, enjoy a standard of living that is the envy of other nations.  The prosperity we enjoy today wouldn’t have been possible if it weren’t for our Founding Fathers who paved the way for a society based upon the principles of Free Enterprise and Limited Government.

How fortunate we are to have the freedom to direct our own lives and the opportunities to make our dreams come true.  Our freedom is unique and wonderful because it allows us to choose our own destiny and offer us the resources to achieve it.  It is really up to us to make it a reality.

The determination, courage, vision, resilience, and spirit of our Founding Fathers can still be found today in the hearts and minds of pioneering American entrepreneurs.  These are the brave men and women who chose the independent career path — no matter what the cost.

As with our cherished independence, the cost of entrepreneurship can be very high.  Entrepreneurship is a full-time job that can be both physically and emotionally taxing.

Our Founding Fathers understood this.  That’s why they never let up; they faithfully pursued freedom until they won our independence.  Just as our Founding Fathers were intent on securing a better life for all Americans, entrepreneurs and their businesses are intent on improving the lives of people and society as a whole.

No one is born an entrepreneur.  It’s a choice we make at some point in our lives.  When we do choose to become an entrepreneur, there’s always a strong reason or motivation backing it up.  Whether, the motivation is adventure, independence, or simply to make money, the fact remains the same.  What really matters is that we have the freedom to choose our career path.

Our independence was not won without tremendous struggle; likewise, choosing the independent career path of an entrepreneur is also full of challenges and uphill battles.  However, independence gives you a sense of accomplishment at the end of the day that makes all of the hardships worthwhile.

Independence comes at a price.  It comes with a high level of responsibility: to be true to yourself, to never lose sight of your vision and to move toward it with hard work, confidence, and determination.

So, as we celebrate Independence Day, let us all reflect on how thankful we are to live in a country where we can pursue our dreams and aspirations freely.

Our independence and the American entrepreneurial spirit are both interwoven into the fabric of our Free Enterprise Society.  They are ingrained in us, and are part of our daily lives.

Free Enterprise is not just an abstract concept you read from a textbook.  Free enterprise is the driving force behind the wheel of progress.  It turns ideas into innovations that create jobs, and jobs that create wealth within our society.

America is truly a fertile environment for entrepreneurs.

Photo of business people-Business… It's About People

Business… It’s About People

Conducting business is by nature interdependent.  It is the result of multiple interactions between multiple stakeholders every day.  A stakeholder is a person or a group with a vested interest in the success of your organization and your products and services—people who can affect or are affected by the actions of your business.

Stakeholders come in many shapes and sizes.  They can be found inside and outside your company.  They are your employees, your customers, your vendors, your partners, your advisors, your lenders, the government, the local community, even your competitors.

Few companies have leveraged the influence of stakeholders like Starbucks, which turned a passion for coffee and taking care of stakeholders into a runaway success.  Howard Schultz, the CEO who transformed the company from a small chain of coffee shops to a worldwide phenomenon, states, “If people relate to the company they work for, if they form an emotional tie to it and buy into its dreams, they will pour their hearts into making it better.”

When stakeholder relationships are strong, you have employees who work better together, customers who buy more products, strong supply chains, collaborative relationships, and seemingly infinite opportunity.  Taking care of your stakeholders is good business.

This concept is embodied in a Japanese concept, Kyosei, embraced by Canon Corporation as its corporate philosophy.  Kyosei is a way of living and working together harmoniously, enabling continuing growth and mutual prosperity to coexist with healthy and fair competition.

The stakeholder group that instantly comes to mind is your employees.  Of all groups, they probably have the biggest stake in your business.  Your employees count on you for their jobs, their income, working conditions, and their livelihood.  If your business fails, employees are among the first to feel the pain.

As a business owner, you have a responsibility to all of your stakeholders, but especially to your employees.  This means providing jobs, good working conditions, fair compensation, honesty in communications, access to information and tools, freedom from discrimination, and protection against unnecessary injury or illness.

Your employees are more than a group of stakeholders—they are the lifeblood of your enterprise.  Spend the money it takes to hire talented individuals.  Share the vision and goals of your company with them.  Invest in your human capital and build teams that encourage cooperation and open communication so that they can perform to the best of their abilities.

And remember what Mary Kay Ash, pioneer of the Mary Kay Cosmetics, states, “People are definitely a company’s greatest asset.  It doesn’t make any difference whether the product is cars or cosmetics.  A company is only as good as the people it keeps.”

Photo of entrepreneur-What Drives Entrepreneurs to Create Something, Out of Nothing

What Drives Entrepreneurs to Create Something, Out of Nothing

Despite difficult challenges, entrepreneurs are “the engines of growth” that are transforming the American economy.  According to the Small Business Administration, entrepreneurs start more than 600,000 businesses in the United States every year.  How important are small businesses to the U.S. economy?

Let me share with you some recent information published by the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Office of Advocacy.  Small businesses…

  • Represent 99.7% of all employer firms.
  • Employ just over half of all private sector employees.
  • Pay 44% of total U.S. private payroll.
  • Generate 64% (net) of new jobs over the past 15 years.
  • Create more than 50% of the nonfarm private gross domestic product (GDP).
  • Hire 40% of high-tech workers, such as scientists, engineers, and computer programmers.
  • Are 52% home-based and 2 percent franchises.
  • Produce 13 times more patents per employee than large patenting firms.

Since small businesses have such an important impact on the business cycle, what drives entrepreneurs to create something, out of nothing?  For that matter, what is an entrepreneur, and what makes him or her tick?  Consider Sam Walton, one of the greatest entrepreneurs of the 20th century who once said, “I have always been driven to buck the system, to innovate, and to take things beyond a place where they’ve been.”

What is an entrepreneur?

The French word, entrepreneur, means an enterpriser.  An enterpriser is person who undertakes an enterprise or business, with the chance of profit or loss.  An entrepreneur is an individual who uses venture capital to start and finance a new enterprise, and who assumes the financial risks associated with owning, operating, and managing an enterprise.

Entrepreneurs come in many varieties and tend to develop innovations and create jobs.  As a result, according to the SBA, they are vital to a stable and robust American economy.  While many consider entrepreneurs to be visionaries, dreamers, and charismatic leaders, not all entrepreneurs share these characteristics.

Most entrepreneurs are individuals who march to their own drums, and who have the drive, determination, and perseverance to bring ideas and opportunities to life.  Entrepreneurs usually have a clear, communicable vision, a passion for their areas of interest, the motivation to take their vision to market, and the perseverance to continue despite obstacles and setbacks.

The entrepreneurs are, without a doubt, horses of a different breed.  Entrepreneurs are mavericks with vision and determination to create a company that takes the vision to market.

Entrepreneurs, as a group, want to architect and control their own destinies.  They are inspired to launch their own business ventures and are driven to identify and exploit high-potential, business opportunities.  They are typically obsessed with all aspects of their chosen area of expertise.  Entrepreneurs have an itch to create a new life, be their own boss, follow their own path, and shed the constraints of the 9-to-5 work world.

Entrepreneurs move on ideas—ideas that are often generated by a flash of inspiration and that are frequently overlooked by others.  Entrepreneurs can change directions quickly as conditions evolve.  They can navigate transitions, tolerate uncertainty, and can balance continuity with change.  Most importantly, they are tenacious!  They follow projects through to completion and do not give up easily, even in the toughest of times.

What drives a person to start an entrepreneurial journey?

There are as many reasons that individuals start new businesses as there are people…  Although motivations vary from individual to individual, the most common driver that individuals cite as their reason for starting a new enterprise is their desire for independence.  Entrepreneurs want to be autonomous.  They want to have the freedom to act independently in achieving their desires and goals.

Entrepreneurs also start businesses for many other reasons.  Here are a few additional reasons:

  • Sense of accomplishment:  Entrepreneurs have the need to achieve and experience a sense of accomplishment.
  • Innovation/Invention:  Entrepreneurs have a drive to invent new products, services, processes, markets or opportunities, and to create new rules of competition.
  • Career transition:  Entrepreneurs often make career transitions upon job laid off, downsizing, outsourcing, retirement, or the desire for independence.
  • Recognition:  Entrepreneurs hunger for: status, power, or recognition for the value of an idea or an enterprise.
  • Wealth building:  Although entrepreneurs may become wealthy individuals, entrepreneurs typically do not consider wealth creation as their primary goal – wealth creation presents itself as the byproduct of the entrepreneurial adventure.
  • Principles:  Many entrepreneurs are driven to build businesses that are governed by deeply-held principles and values that contribute to their community and to society as well.

What motivates an entrepreneur is the drive to control his own schedule, manage his own workload, and steward his own destiny.  Entrepreneurs want to envision a future where they are doing what they love to do!

Photo for blog article-4 Ways to Develop Your Entrepreneurial Growth Mindset

4 Ways to Develop Your Entrepreneurial Growth Mindset

For you to be successful as an entrepreneur, you need to develop a growth mindset. A growth mindset allows you to learn from your mistakes and grow your business.

Entrepreneurs who have a fixed mindset tend to dwell on their failures and see any setbacks and challenges that they might face as a reason to throw in the towel and give up on their dreams of becoming successful. To help you drive your ventures forward and find success, here are four ways that you can develop a growth mindset:

  1. Embrace Challenges:There’s always a positive reason to embrace challenges. If you beat a problem, you reap the rewards; if you don’t overcome a challenge, you still learn valuable lessons in your failure. If you do everything you can to avoid problems that you may face, you will never grow as an entrepreneur, and neither will your business.Embracing challenges will allow you to achieve higher things in both your business and personal life.
  2. Expect Setbacks:
    When running a business, you must expect that you will have setbacks, and learn how to overcome them. In order to have a growth mindset, you need to learn how to persist in the face of setbacks and avoid dwelling on the reasons that you failed. When you can do this, inevitable setbacks will be nothing more than a small bump in the road.
  3. Listen to Criticism:
    Use the feedback you get to improve your business. Criticism isn’t a bad thing and can be very useful to your business. If you want to develop a growth mindset, you must listen to your customer’s feedback.Learn to conquer your fear of disapproval by listening to feedback and focusing on how you can improve. Entrepreneurs who develop a growth mindset know that there is always room for improvement.
  4. Be Inspired by Others’ Success:
    You should never feel threatened by the success of other entrepreneurs. Instead, you should look at their success as inspiration to do better. Reach out to other successful entrepreneurs and don’t be afraid to ask for help. Every entrepreneur has the same self-doubts and being jealous of others’ success and doing this will only make you feel more inadequate in your own life.

Once you develop a growth mindset, you can apply it to almost anything in your life. If you want to be a successful entrepreneur, you need to get out of your own way and learn to develop and use a growth mindset to your advantage.

Photo for Business Insights blog-How Your Mindset Can Directly Impact Your Success

How Your Mindset Can Directly Impact Your Success

Every small business owner and entrepreneur is in a relentless pursuit to grow their business. They usually do this by looking at external methods, such as outsourcing key tasks like accounting, or installing automation software to take care of mundane tasks so they can focus on more important matters. They may try out new marketing tactics or sales strategies as well.

All of these external measures can make a tremendous difference in your business. But we often forget about internal factors, such as beliefs, attitudes, opinions, or habits of thinking, which have a massive impact on your business’ success. In fact, these internal factors are instrumental in determining the success of your business.

What Is Mindset?

The concept of mindset was first formulated and popularized by Stanford University psychologist Carol Dweck. Dweck’s research focuses on the field of achievement and success. Her theory states that factors like intelligence and ability, while important, do not guarantee success. Rather, our mindset and our beliefs about our abilities play a key role in fueling, or dampening, our success.

All of us know someone who is incredibly intelligent or gifted but somehow never realized their potential. Think of a valedictorian who ends up working a dead-end job or a gifted athlete who gives up a sports scholarship in order to stay closer to home. These people seem stunted somehow and it’s a great shock that they don’t pursue their potential. It’s easy to see that there’s something holding them back that has nothing to do with ability or talent.

In the simplest terms, your mindset is a collection of beliefs. It includes beliefs about basic qualities like your intelligence, talents, and personality.

For example, you might have a certain view regarding your own intelligence. You may believe that you aren’t ‘smart’ because you didn’t perform well in school, as it’s widely believed that school performance equals intelligence. This may manifest itself in thoughts like, “I’m not smart because I didn’t get good grades. Only smart people are successful. I am not smart, and therefore my business will never be very successful.” This negative thinking ignores the fact that intelligence means so much more than just school performance, and that many who did poorly in school went on to be great successes in their field.

Or you may have a negative mindset about your talents. You may be asked to speak at an event that could lead to great opportunities for your business, but you decline because of a self-limiting belief. You may think, “I’m not a good public speaker. When I presented my thesis in college, I choked. I couldn’t remember words and I was too nervous to perform well. I’m just not a public speaker.” However, public speaking is a skill that anyone can learn through practice.

Whether conscious or unconscious, these mindsets can directly impact your success. We’ve considered two examples that show how negative mindset can impact your success, but a positive mindset can also help you activate your potential and reach heights of success you never imagined.

The Inner Critic

Your mindset and its beliefs can be totally unconscious. It’s not always easy to identify them, but that’s what must be done in order to draw them out. For many people, a negative mindset manifests itself as an “inner critic.” This is an inner voice or private conversation that occurs in your mind on continuous repeat mode behind your conscious thoughts.

Your inner critic tells you that you’re wrong, you’re bad at the task at hand, you’re inadequate, or you lack the worth you see in other successful individuals. It acts as a judge, condemning you to failure at every turn.

Some people are aware of this inner critic while others aren’t. Even if you’re aware of this voice, you may be at a loss for how to deal with it. Many people believe that the inner critic is themselves talking. They mistakenly identify with it and this is why it’s so good at sabotaging your life and thwarting your chances for success.

All of us have an inner critic. The first step to cultivating a mindset for success is to become aware of these negative thoughts and the impact they have on you. Once you’ve become aware of this inner voice, you’ve taken the first step toward releasing its grip on you.

The wonderful thing about mindset is that it’s malleable. It can be developed or evolved. The negative mindset that’s holding you back was shaped through experiences in the past and learned habits of thinking. Through even the smallest shifts in awareness or thinking habits, you can make profound differences, and eventually take control of your mindset and steer it toward positivity and success.

Learn how we're supporting small businesses and independent professionals during the COVID-19 crisis... 
View Resources

Scroll to Top