Top Entrepreneur Tips

Top tips that all successful entrepreneurs need to know.

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• Business: DIY • Business: Helpful Information
• Business: Small Business • Business: Tips & Tricks

Matt Anderson's Take
Have a new business idea or already trying to start or run a business? Here are some top tips that all successful entrepreneurs need to know about.

Do What You Love
While it's true that not every hobby should turn into a business. It's incredibly important to have a genuine passion for what you do. You can't fake passion, it's either genuine or it's not and if it's not that will show and will likely be your downfall. Love what you do, do what you love.

Keep A Day Job
If at all possible, start your business while keeping a day job. It can take months or years to get a new business safely off the ground to the point where it can support itself and pay you a salary. In many cases, it's possible to work a full or part-time job to make enough money to live off of while you start your business.

Goodbye Work / Life Balance
Forget 9-5 days or 40-60 hour work weeks. Starting a business is so much more than time spent. It's more about effort and energy than the actual time you spend working. But on the flip side, expect to spend insane amounts of time on your business. This isn't a job. It's not a career even. It's infinitely more than those things and will require infinitely more time to make it happen. Kiss goodbye to some parts of your personal life, at least until you get the ball rolling. Make sure your spouse, family, etc understand this and are supportive or failure (of your business and/or relationship) is imminent. At the same time, you must set some limits to avoid insanity. This might be a 9 PM shut down routine each night or something along those lines.

Simplify Life
There many ways you can simplify your life and daily routines. Setting out your clothes the night before is one example. Or you can wear the exact same thing every day like some of the biggest CEOs out there. Make task lists that cover your daily work items and check them off as you go. The less time you have to spend thinking about the mundane items in your life (clothing, breakfast, what work to do first, etc) the more productive you'll be.

Do Your Dirty Work First
Do all of the worst work first thing each morning. Avoid meetings, phone calls, avoid playing on the Internet. Get started early and spend your first 2-3 hours getting all of the day's dirty work done.

Accomplish Routinely
The key to growing and moving forward as a business is to constantly accomplish goals. This doesn't have to be big stuff like "sell $1 million of product this month" but far smaller things. You need to have constant accomplishments or wins every day to look back on. If you're writing a book it may be to accomplish at least 1 page every day. If you're developing the next killer app it may be to add one new feature and squash one programming bug every day. Whatever it is, list it out and make a point to accomplish something every day.

Avoid Community Bandwagons
The best example of bandwagons today are apps and various social media sites. Sure, Facebook is probably an important place to be. But do you also need Instagram and Twitter? Some businesses do, and others don't. Do you then need Pinterest and Snapchat? Maybe, but not likely. Businesses tend to flood to the next bandwagon in fear of missing out. Well, if you're concerned about missing out then sign up for an account to reserve your profile name but then let it sit. If you need it down the road it's there. But spending too much of your time growing somebody else's community often isn't the best use of your time and energy.

Log It
You must keep a notebook, journal, or general place to store ideas. Sort it into near-term ideas that you'll look into (and develop or toss out) in the next 1-6 months. Then a separate one for longer term ideas that you'll look at 6-12 months from now.

Network Properly
Networking can benefit your business but it's not the holy grail many believe it to be. Reach out to other people and businesses that have a synergy with your own. Rather than seeing how they can benefit your business, see how you can benefit them. All relationships need to be two-way streets so it's important to make sure both parties get something out of it. Start by networking down, which is finding somebody or a business that is smaller or newer than you. Help them out now and they'll remember that as you both grow.

Listen & Ignore
Getting advice on your business, idea, website, or whatever is great. But you'll want to ignore 99% of what you hear. Most people don't know how to give feedback properly, good or bad. If you're the expert on your business then listen to yourself first. If you hear the same advice from many people over time, that's when you really want to listen and possibly act.

Eat Your Own Dog Food
In plain English, use your own product or service. Are you writing a cookbook? Then take the time to follow your recipes exactly as written and see how it works out. Got a website for something? Then use it like you're a customer and see how it goes. If you make and sell a widget, then make sure you're constantly using your own widget to see how it works, feels, and what breaks on it.

Don't Compromise
When working with customers or other businesses, work with people you like and avoid those you don't. Don't try to shoehorn your businesses or services into a scenario just so you can make a sale or land an account if it doesn't make sense or you know that you'll be dealing with nasty people. You don't have to lower your standards to make every possible sale or connection. Stick with the 90/10 rule and go after the 90% of people out there and don't worry about the 10% that don't fit in.

Avoid Discounts
You don't have to lower the price of your product or service in order to make a sale. Set a fair and reasonable price and stick to it. Avoid sales and other marketing gimmicks or you'll be stuck discounting forever. Take Bed, Bath, & Beyond stores as an example. They send out a discount coupon of either $5 off or $20% off a single item. They've sent these out monthly to customers for years and now nobody will buy anything from those stores without a coupon. Instead, when a customer asks about a discount explain why what you offer is worth the price you're asking.

Pinch Pennies
Every single thing you plan to buy needs to be thought out. Do you really need it? Is there a cheaper option? Can you buy something outright to avoid monthly expenses and save in the long run? Do the math and shop around. Every little bit counts.

Establish A Brand, Then Forget About It
It's tempting to want to create some sort of cool company name, then a fun logo, and maybe even a tagline. You could spend thousands of dollars on these items only to change them as you grow. The bottom line is that people today don't care about most brands. It's only a handful of top brands that have meaning to consumers and you're a long way from the top. Get a good name that you can stick with and a simple logo, then run with that until you grow more.

Under Promise, Over Deliver
We've all heard this rule but living it is the key to making customers happy. Always say what you mean and do what you say. Don't BS people. Don't tell them you can do something when you can't. If you do promise something, then you need to make good on that promise. Then throw a cherry on top. Go the extra mile. Add a personal touch. Give more than expected.

Never, Ever Give Up
More important than anything is to never give up on your idea and business. It's easy to see major companies like Facebook and Snapchat become (almost) overnight successes and want to believe that this is how success works. Some companies today have skewed our perception of how and when success will come. In the real world, it rarely works that way. It will take years of hard work to be successful for most businesses. Learn to adapt and become better, but never give up.
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