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Seven Ways To Improve Your Success As An Entrepreneur

Anyone can become an entrepreneur. All it takes is an idea, a website and a bit of marketing money in your pocket. But if you want to become a successful entrepreneur, you’ll need a certain set of skills, passion and determination. These essentials will improve your chances of surviving the entrepreneurial roller coaster.

The road to successful entrepreneurism is not obstacle free. There are a ton of challenges, like bringing a product or service to market, achieving funding goals and facing the inevitable moments of failure, no matter how big or small.

The good news is that there are more than a handful of ways to improve your success as an entrepreneur. From developing a strong mindset to eliminating distractions, the following can serve as your quick guide to greater entrepreneurial wins.

1. Develop a strong entrepreneurial mindset.

One of the most important factors behind success as an entrepreneur is mindset. Like anything else in life, if you have a negative mindset, the outcome of what you’re doing or trying to achieve will simply come up short of your goal. A strong entrepreneurial mindset, however, isn’t about being bullish and never taking no for an answer. It is a different type of strength.

For instance, fear can be a strength as an entrepreneur. This may seem unconventional in the traditional business world, but fear can actually be a driving force. Taking calculated chances and not having any reservations about the consequences of leaping into a new business endeavor can catalyze your entrepreneurial success.

2. Be adaptable to pretty much everything that comes your way.

To improve your success as an entrepreneur, you need to be able to adapt. Rigidness is an entrepreneur killer, so feel free to change colors like a chameleon when needed. For example, if you learn about a new technology that could enhance your product or service, adapt and integrate it. Having the ability to adapt is not easy for some, but it can be learned.

3. Never stop soaking up knowledge.

Knowledge is power. Ever hear that before? It is a phrase that dates back to the 16th century and still holds true today. Successful entrepreneurs never stop learning because learning is what allows us to continue our pursuit of solving unique problems with unique solutions.

This could be a lightbulb moment after reading a New York Times article, or simply a conversation you had with your mentor. Soak it all up because the more you know, the greater your chances of growing your idea into a successful business.

4. Find a mentor, and listen to them closely.

On the topic of lifetime learning and mentors, if you don’t have one yet, it is time to get a few. Mentors are at the core of your entrepreneurial success. They have been around the block a few times, with plenty of failures and successes under their belts. This means two things in respect to improving your success as an entrepreneur.

One, they can offer guidance in terms of what not to do. Two, they have built a sizable network over the years that you can, if you’re lucky, tap into when the moment presents itself. A mentor relationship is worth more than first-round investments, and it must be earned through trust, acceptance and your commitment to listen and learn.

5. Rid your life of all distractions.

Let’s face it; we are probably in the most distracted era of human history. From smartphones to social media, most of us are in a constant state of distraction. This makes ridding your life of distractions critical to improving your success as an entrepreneur.

Put your long-term goals as an entrepreneur first and foremost, and go all in. If you find yourself falling prey to easy distractions, such as a side project a friend asked you to do for their cousin, put those side blinders on and politely say, “No thank you.” Successful entrepreneurs stay focused — period!

6. Approach your tasks methodically every day.

If you think entrepreneurs do a few hours of work and call it a day to head to the beach, you may want to reconsider why you want to be an entrepreneur. The fact is, being an entrepreneur is extremely time-consuming and challenging. You need to be highly organized and methodical when approaching your tasks every day. Brent Gleason, former Navy SEAL, shared a common SEAL phrase: “Don’t run to your death.” Meaning, have a plan and execute it slowly for success.

7. Never stop dreaming as if you were a child.

One of the coolest parts of fostering success as an entrepreneur is that you get to question everything. Have you ever seen a child ask their parents what this or that is over and over? That is basically what successful entrepreneurs get to do daily. Instead of seeing something and accepting it as a norm, we question, “Why does it have to be like that?” We essentially get to channel our inner child to solve problems.

Ready to harness entrepreneur success?

There are plenty of ways to improve your success as an entrepreneur, and there is certainly no one way to do anything. That’s the beauty of entrepreneurism — it is for everyone. The way you approach your next endeavor should be a combination of what has worked for others and what works for you in that moment. Be unique, driven, strategic, a student and, above all, successful.

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As a Startupreneur, Are You Focusing on These 5 Aspects?

Here are 5 aspects, start-up entrepreneurs must never shift their focus away from, come what may!

The Pitch

How you pitch your idea to the investors or people who are going to invest in your start-up is one of the most essential aspects that a startupreneur should never neglect. As an entrepreneur who has millions of aspirations, investors want to see if you are responsible enough to make fuller utilization of the funds that you receive. Ownership, flexibility and willingness to learn and acquire new skills are also some of the features investors look for in entrepreneurs of start-ups.

Growth

Funding or raising capital is that part of the business without which start-ups cannot survive. However, the goal of entrepreneurs shouldn’t be to only raise capital while forgetting the fundamentals of their business. Entrepreneurs, after tasting success in the initial years, get carried away by the “high valuation game.” The moment their focus becomes making their business enterprise a million-dollar or billion-dollar company, the day is not far when they may have to sell off everything. Therefore, always focusing on sales, growth and product enhancement, while raising capital as and when the need arises, is the right way to do business as a startupreneur.

Team

Having a dream team, consisting of like-minded people who share the vision of the founder is a win-win for start-up entrepreneurs. Hiring hard-working talent is not enough, employing smart people in and for your organization is what completes the role of a leader and entrepreneur to ensure the sustenance of the business. Moreover, having the backing of the smart and creative team will give rise to innovation and in turn open gateways of growth and profit.

Mentors

As a start-up entrepreneur, it is foolish to give in to the mindset that one knows everything. Mentors, accelerators and incubators provide a space for start-ups to make mistakes, learn and most primarily, to grow. In research by Sage, it was noted that 93 per cent of the start-ups admitted that mentorship is instrumental to the success of start-ups.

Public Relations

A start-up cannot work in isolation. It cannot go on to do great things and accomplish great success without the world knowing. The P.R. machinery works like a bridge between the start-up and the audience and even the investors. Media coverage influences the masses at large in a positive way and also helps the start-up gain recognition in the market.

Moreover, when an entire section of people recognize you, it contributes, to building your brand and uplifting the name of your start-ups.

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Research: To Be a Good Leader, Start By Being a Good Follower

There is no shortage of advice for those who aspire to be effective leaders. One piece of advice may be particularly enticing: if you want to be a successful leader, ensure that you are seen as a leader and not a follower. To do this, goes the usual advice, you should seek out opportunities to lead, adopt behaviors that people associate with leaders rather than followers (e.g., dominance and confidence), and — above all else — show your exceptionalism relative to your peers.

But there is a problem here. It is not just that there is limited evidence that leaders really are exceptional individuals. More importantly, it is that by seeking to demonstrate their specialness and exceptionalism, aspiring leaders may compromise their very ability to lead.

The simple reason for this is that, as Warren Bennis has observed, leaders are only ever as effective as their ability to engage followers. Without followership, leadership is nothing. As one of us (Haslam) observed in a 2011 book coauthored with Stephen Reicher and Michael Platow, The New Psychology of Leadership, this means that the key to success in leadership lies in the collective “we,” not the individual “I.”

In other words, leadership is a process that emerges from a relationship between leaders and followers who are bound together by their understanding that they are members of the same social group. People will be more effective leaders when their behaviors indicate that they are one of us, because they share our values, concerns and experiences, and aredoing it for us, by looking to advance the interests of the group rather than own personal interests.

This perspective identifies a major flaw in the usual advice for aspiring leaders. Instead of seeking to stand out from their peers, they may be better served by ensuring that they are seen to be a good follower — as someone who is willing to work within the group and on its behalf. In short, leaders need to be seen as “one of us” (not “one of them”) and as “doing it for us” (not only for themselves or, worse, for “them”).

In a recent paper, we set out to test these ideas through a longitudinal analysis of emergent leadership among 218 male Royal Marines recruits who embarked on the elite training program after passing a series of tests of psychological aptitude and physical fitness. More specifically, we examined whether the capacity for recruits to be seen as displaying leadership by their peers was associated with their tendency to see themselves as natural leaders (with the skills and abilities to lead) or as followers (who were more concerned with getting things done than getting their own way).

For this purpose, we tracked recruits’ self-identification as leaders and followers across the course of a physically arduous 32-week infantry training that prepared them for warfare in a range of extreme environments. This culminated in the recruits and the commanders who oversaw their training casting votes for the award of the Commando Medal to the recruit who showed most leadership ability.  So who gets the votes?  Marines who set themselves up as leaders, or those who cast themselves as followers?

In line with the analysis that we present above, we found that recruits who considered themselves to be natural leaders were not able to convince their peers that this was the case. Instead, it was the recruits who saw themselves (and were seen by commanders) as followers who ultimately emerged as leaders. In other words, it seems that those who want to lead are well served by first endeavoring to follow.

Interestingly, though, alongside these results, we also found that recruits who saw themselves as natural leaders were seen by their commanders as having more leadership potential than recruits who saw themselves as followers. This suggests that what good leadership looks like is highly dependent on where evaluators are standing. Evaluators who are situated within the group, and able to personally experience the capacity of group members to influence one another, appear to recognize the leadership of those who see themselves as followers. In contrast, those who stand outside the group appear to be most attuned to a candidate’s correspondence to generic ideas of what a leader should look like.

This latter pattern tells us a lot about the dynamics of leadership selection and helps to explain why the people who are chosen as leaders by independent selection panels often fail to deliver when they are in the thick of the group that they actually need to lead.  It also has the potential to complicate the picture for aspiring leaders. The reason for this is that in organizations that eschew democratic processes in their selection of leaders, employees who are seen as leaders (by themselves and by those who have the power to raise them up) may be more likely to be appointed to leadership positions that those who see themselves as followers.

However, as our Marines data suggest, this elevation of those who seek to distance themselves from their group may actually be a recipe for failure, not success. It encourages leaders to fall in love with their own image and to place themselves above and apart from followers. And that is the best way to get followers to fall out of love with the leader. Not only will this then undermine the leader’s capacity to lead but, more importantly, it will also stifle followers’ willingness to follow. And that can only ever be a path to organizational mediocrity.


Kim Peters is senior lecturer in organizational psychology at the University of Queensland. Her research focuses on social influence processes (including communication and leadership) in social and organizational settings. She works closely with organizations to examine the role of psychological factors in organizational functioning.


Alex Haslam is Professor of Psychology and Australian Laureate Fellow at the University of Queensland. His research focuses on the study of group and identity processes in social, organizational and clinical contexts. Together with over 200 co-authors around the world, Alex has written and edited 12 books and published over 200 peer-reviewed articles on these topics.

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Why Technology Is Important To Entrepreneurs Today

Technology is the way to achieve more profit with less investment in business. The hardware and software costs are gradually coming down because of the increase in the number of competitors in the market. There are free tools available to do challenging tasks in new start-ups and businesses. All the developing countries started supporting and investing in digitization, digital copy-cat ideas and digital entrepreneurship.

Technology makes it possible for firm’s better communication with its partners, clients, customers through web sites, blogs, messages & social media pages which lead to a strong public image. Internationalization and global networking has become easy because of technology and makes it possible to reach the entire population all over the world. The internet technologies and telepresence create virtual global environment like conference call, video chat & Webinar and minimizes the need of travelling, brings smooth operations and ease of conducting businesses. Technology also brings 24/7 working environment and work from home culture which avoids the need of large offices and reduces the operational costs. The strategies like “bring your own device” minimises electronic wastes. With all these advantages and easy accessibility of technology makes it possible for even a normal human being to start a venture.

  • Impact of Information Technology:

Information Technology affects the firm’s ability to know its future growth and stand beforehand by consolidating and analysing various parameters like country’s economic conditions, firm’s financial position, technology trends, customers future mindset, & number of competitors in the market. It makes the entrepreneur to be able to take better decisions in difficult situation. With extensive market research, many entrepreneurs have been able to know the current trends and come out with products and services as per the trend which minimises the failures. Information technology streamlines communication and stores all the historical information which can be analysed for better decisions. Two-way communication has become easy in business through technology which makes it possible to know better about their customers and take customers feedback and their opinion about their products and services and improvise on that.  Customization has become easy through technology which is the key to succeed in business.

  • Impact of Indian Government:

Indian government encourages and promotes various projects like digital India for the advancement of technologies for start-ups in India and motivates entrepreneurs to make use of technology for their businesses. The objective of the project “Make in India” is to bring easy procedures, quality infrastructure, easy rules and regulations to start and execute the business in India. Indian government’s E-Biz portal to develop a conducive business environment in India by providing a one-stop shop for providing G2B services and reducing the delay in getting the information and services, approvals, licenses, permits, clearances, no objection certificates for start-ups.

Technology opens many virtual start-ups in the form of a web site or a mobile application with billion-dollar business with no physical infrastructure. Anybody who makes use of technology for running their business called as digital entrepreneurs. The word “entrepreneur” is leading to the buzz word “digital entrepreneur”. Today’s entrepreneurs need to equip themselves to make use of technology to run their venture and become as digital entrepreneurs to join this digital bandwagon. It’s not necessary for entrepreneurs to be tech-savvy to become as digital entrepreneurs but need to be aware of current technology trends and where and how to make use those for their business. So, the success mantra in digital entrepreneurship is to know the customers pain points, solve their problems directly by providing solutions in affordable costs with innovative ideas and appropriate technologies, and bringing transparencies by removing the intermediaries.

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LEAD 5 New Books All Entrepreneurs Should Read in 2018

A commitment to lifelong learning is a trait commonly found in the most successful entrepreneurs. So, with back-to-school season on all our minds, here’s my list of books (published in the last 12 months) that all entrepreneurs should read. Heck, even if you are only considering starting something, give these a read.

Crushing It! How Great Entrepreneurs Build Their Business and Influence–and How You Can, Too

Gary Vaynerchuk kicks off the list. The four-time New York Times bestselling author is a strongly opinionated, bombastic pundit of entrepreneurship. If you have never watched him on YouTube, think Anthony Robbins meets Jack Dorsey. He has a huge following, and for good reason: He gets it. His latest book continues his mission to share new lessons and entrepreneurial inspiration by leveraging the experiences of dozens of founders who have been there, done that.

Tribe of Mentors–Short Life Advice from the Best in the World

Tim Ferriss, the author of the blockbuster The 4-Hour Workweek, is sharing more tidbits, habits, practices, and exercises to make your life better. Tribe of Mentors gives you pearls of actionable wisdom that you can apply in your everyday life. This time Ferriss has brought along his friends–including Maria Sharapova, Dustin Moskovitz, Jimmy Fallon, Chris Anderson, and dozens more–to share their stories. An online reviewer said it best: Think of this book as a massive collection of generally applicable mentorship advice from the world’s best and brightest.

Measure What Matters: OKRs: The Simple Idea That Drives 10x Growth

In the startup world, John Doerr is a legend. With a net worth of more than $7 billion, this American venture capitalist has worked with (and funded) such luminaries as Larry Page, Sergey Brin, and Eric Schmidt of Google; Jeff Bezos of Amazon.com; and Scott Cook and Bill Campbell of Intuit. So when this guy talks, entrepreneurs should sit up and take notice. In Measure What Matters, Doer teaches us about using objectives and key results (OKR), a revolutionary approach to goal-setting, to make tough choices in business. He backs up his advice with firsthand behind-the-scenes narratives from the likes of Andy Grove, Bono, and Bill Gates.

The Startup Way: How Modern Companies Use Entrepreneurial Management to Transform Culture and Drive Long-Term Growth

Eric Ries changed the world of entrepreneurship with the publication of The Lean Startup in 2011. In October 2017, fresh off half a decade as one of Harvard Business School’s entrepreneurs in residence, Ries published The Startup Way. In it, Ries shares case studies of how Fortune 500 companies are leveraging the lean startup method to drive innovation and keep costs down. If you have ever wondered how you could apply startup methodology to your business, even if it is not a high-growth digital startup, this book is for you.

Lost & Founder: A Painfully Honest Field Guide to the Startup World

In Lost & Founder, Rand Fishkin, the founder of $45 million a year Moz, offers a VIP backstage pass to founder life in the startup world. Fishkin is funny and smart, but most of all, he is honest. In the media (like HBO’s Silicon Valley, ABC’s Shark Tank, and Amazon’s Startup), entrepreneurs are often portrayed as rock stars, world changers, and heroes. This book shines a light on dark side of that life, while at the same time highlighting the importance of soft skills when running a startup.

Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup

The last book on my list is another crushingly honest exposé of startup life. In this case, John Carreyrou, a two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist for The Wall Street Journal, pulls back the curtain on the spectacular rise, massive fraud, and eventual fall of Elizabeth Holmes, founder and CEO of Theranos, a biotech startup once valued at $9 billion.

And there you have it: The books I’ve found most valuable in the last 12 months. So as the kids get ready to go back to school, you, too, should return to lifelong learning and read one of these.

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Why Entrepreneurs Can’t Afford to Overthink a Mistake

Your entrepreneurial journey is not going to be one void of mistakes. As a start-up founder, you are bound to make mistakes but also learn from them. The consequences of making errors only prepares one for what’s coming next and they only learn to be stronger.

But what entrepreneurs often do is worry about the mistake and spend too much time thinking about it, instead of working on a solution and then moving past it. As founders, not just for yourself but also your employees, it’s important to consider it as a lesson learnt and quickly move on.

Entrepreneur India spoke to founders about why entrepreneur can’t afford to overthink.

Time and Tide Wait For None

While you are dwelling upon a mistake, you are wasting precious time during which you could work on finding better solutions for your problem. Lalit Upadhyay, Founder, Polash Ventures puts it across simply as time and tide never come again, so entrepreneurs are advised not to linger onto the wrong decision which has already been made. There is no point of return for the things that went wrong in past. “Instead of pondering and overthinking about the mistake, one should think wisely and act firmly for the future. The success of an enterprise lies in the present and future. Moreover, it is crucial for start-ups to frame strategies that have the least risks and ensure the profit of the company,” he said.

For Your Own Mental Peace

Entrepreneurship is a job led with passion. Start-up founders often put their all into one idea and strive to make the best out of it. So, when a mistake does happen, entrepreneurs often tend to take it very personally. Nishant Sidhu, Founder, Trekteller believes that no one who wishes to retain mental peace and sanity should spend too much time thinking over their past mistakes, let alone an entrepreneur who has to make a number of decisions everyday which may have consequences that are not under his or her control. “Though it’s not to deny that you must own your error and should apologize if need be, but as an entrepreneur, there’s no point fretting over why you did what you did. Overthinking can drain mental peace, deprive one of good night’s sleep, and even hampers problem-solving ability, all of which can really bring down productivity to zero; that’s the kind of day no entrepreneur would like to go through in his or her life,” he said.

How Can You Handle The Stress

A journey in the start-up world doesn’t come without its doses of stress. Mistakes done by an entrepreneur often lead to a stressful situation and the person is at a fix about how to solve them. But instead of overthinking and wallowing because of the mistake, the entrepreneur should take charge and make quick decisions that will solve the crisis.

Write It Down

Upadhyay believes that uncertainty is an unavoidable element of the business world. He advises that in such a stressful situation, write down the list of small tasks that are causing stress. The tasks which are written down may look unmanageable to do at first, but if they are addressed with intelligence by breaking them down, they will be easy to accomplish. “In other words, thoughtful planning and strategic management is the antidote for stress in the business,” he said.

Empty Your Mind and Start Afresh

Overthinking such situations will only add to the troubles of the entrepreneur. Overthinking about some erroneous in the past just adds extra stress that can hamper their further decision-making ability and productivity, believes Sidhu.  He advises that entrepreneurs should empty their mind for a while, or engage themselves in some other activity like reading an article that might interest them, listening to their favourite song, talking about other business projects that they might have in the pipeline. “Well, because it’s already too late to overthink. By overthinking, you are only going to stress yourself out,” he said.

Move On

Instead of letting your mind go over the same mistake, Sidhu believes that one should focus on whether the outcomes of what happened were under your control. “If yes, analyse whether you you did your best. If you put in your best efforts to make things go your way and the result still went the other way, there’s nothing you should be stressed about. Make a note for future, though,” he said.

Moving on from the mistake and not dwell upon it is the most important lesson here. Instead of wasting time on how the mistake happened, focus on the why and learn from it. Vidur Gupta, Director, Spectrum Talent Management believes that being an entrepreneur is all about taking responsibility, dealing with stress and handling difficult situations. “Every entrepreneur needs to realize that these situations are what makes an entrepreneur strong, and the journey is all about dealing with stressful times and moving forward,” he said.

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PODCASTING: A SECRET WEAPON TO HELP BUSINESS LEADERS CONNECT WITH EMPLOYEES

Over the last two years, organizations and mega-companies such as Prudential, Marriott, and John Hopkins Children Hospital have adopted podcasting as a way to not only connect with consumers but employees as well. Plus, in 2017, according to a recent report from Edison Research, 124 million Americans listened to a podcast. Clearly, this is an opportunity for companies to address one of the biggest challenges for leaders: employee engagement. For CEOs, managers, and HR leaders who are often viewed as uncaring, podcasting can help you build better relationships with your employees and provide an easy way to deliver company news.

To gain some actionable advice on how executives can create a lane for podcasting in the workplace, we caught up with Ahyiana Angel, founder at Mayzie Media and podcaster behind Switch, Pivot or Quit, a highly buzzed about personal development and self-help podcast featuring interviews with women who have successfully switched careers.

Can you share two to three podcasting formats that might be suitable for leaders to reach employees in the workplace?

There are many ways to produce engaging content for an employee-centric podcast. The goal is to create the most favorable listening experience for the audience. Ideally, something that will get employees buzzing from the watercooler to meetings. You can think of it as being similar to a company newsletter since you can arrange for the podcast to only exist within the company intranet, which makes it only accessible to those that it is intended for.

The most effective podcast presentation formats would be an educational or interview style — conversations with two or more hosts especially if the company culture lends itself to comedy or discussing light social topics. I would advise that brands stay away from solo-casts, especially hosted by the Founder/CEO, as it may feel isolating to employees. The idea is to create a show that feels inviting, informative, and collaborative.

Connecting and engaging employees is one of the biggest challenges that many business leaders face every day. What topics should leaders consider?

Leaders should consider their audience before developing a company podcast. Who will be listening? Produce a program that will speak to the audience’s interests, fulfills their needs, and helps to establish a deeper connection with the brand. For example, a startup tech company could produce a podcast that incorporates exploring industry trends as well as interviewing innovators in their space. They could also share the company’s “making of the brand” by using storytelling to uncover what the origins of the company looked like. Dig into the emotions, drivers, and motivation that was present early on. In return, this may cause employees to become even more invested in the vision of the brand. They may find themselves rooting for the company in an entirely different capacity.

Beyond having a highly buzzed about podcast, you have a background in entertainment public relations. Are there any topics or nuances a leader should not record for the podcast?

I would suggest that leaders keep the company tone in mind when participating in producing a podcast specifically for their employees. It’s important for the podcast and the style of the show to feel like an extension of the brand. As you mentioned, with my PR background in mind, my advice would also be to avoid making statements on the podcast that are not set in stone with relation to the business and growth as well as avoiding getting deep into political issues if that is not typically something infused in your company brand. The podcast is there to help foster community and inspire, not cause tension and division.

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SURVEY FINDS BLACK BUSINESS OWNERSHIP IN THE U.S. JUMPED 400% IN ONE YEAR

African American business owners are on the rise. According to the Minority 2018 Small Business Trends survey, the number of black-owned small businesses in the U.S. increased by a staggering 400% in a year-over-year time period from 2017 to 2018.

The new survey, which was conducted by Guidant Financial and LendingClub, interviewed more than 2,600 business owners and aspiring entrepreneurs. It found that 45% of all small business in the country were owned by minority ethnic groups in 2018. This is a dramatic uptick from 2015 when the total percentage of minority business owners was 15%. The largest minority group of respondents were African American at 19%, followed by Hispanic at 14%, Asian at 8%, and Native American at 4%.

Of the African American small business owners surveyed, 63% identified as men and 38% as women. Most fell between the ages of 40 to 49 with 28%, while 25% were between 50 and 59 years old, and 22% are 30 to 39. The research also showed that the highest volume of African American entrepreneurs lives in Texas, followed by Georgia, California, Florida, and North Carolina.

David Nilssen, CEO of Guidant Financial, said in a statement that he is excited about the rise of minority small business owners around the nation. “Growth amongst all minorities including women is promising in America as small business ownership becomes more favorable and easier to attain. We anticipate and hope to see a continued increase as the impact of tax reform and economic growth shape small business ownership moving forward.”

WHY BLACK AMERICANS ARE STARTING BUSINESSES

Sixty-two percent of African Americans said their desire to pursue their passion motivated them to start a business. Another 53% said they were ready to be their own boss. Meanwhile, 30% said they launched a startup when the “opportunity presented itself” and 22% said they were dissatisfied with working in corporate America. Twelve percent said they launched a business after being laid off or outsourced.

THE CHALLENGES OF BLACK ENTREPRENEURSHIP

An overwhelming majority of black entrepreneurs surveyed, 80%, said lack of capital was the most challenging aspect of running a business. According to ProjectDiane, only 0.2% of all venture capital funding was allocated toward startups founded by black women in 2016, while just 34 black women business owners received more than million dollars of funding in the last year.

As a result, many African Americans are forced to fund their own business. In fact, 70% of those surveyed financed their companies using cash, while 23% received funding from friends and family. Eleven percent said they tapped into their 401(k) plans to fund their businesses.

 

See an accompanying infographic about African American respondents below.

black business

(Guidant Financial )

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4 Steps to Building a Successful Team

My business partner David Parnes and I have sold over $600 million in real estate this year, however our path toward success wasn’t easy, and it was a team effort. We started by knocking on doors to find listings and have learned many lessons along the way. After David and I landed starring roles on the television series Million Dollar Listing Los Angeles, entrepreneurs from all over the world started emailing us to ask for advice on how to succeed in business. Their questions inspired me to write this series for Entrepreneur.com.

This article answers a question that David and I often receive: “How do you build a successful team?” We have an immediate team of four people, however we collaborate with many more in our network and consider all of those people team members. Think of your network as your army.

Here are the four steps to building a successful team.

Step 1: Staff up.

David and I started out with just the two of us. As soon as we had a few sales under our belts and started building our listing inventory, we hired an assistant to help us with marketing and scheduling so we had more time to handle showings andnetworking. As we got busier, one assistant grew to two assistants. With our increased media exposure, we saw our business really take off and realized that in order to manage the incredible amount of leads that were coming our way, we needed to effectively manage our growing listing inventory, and oversee our escrows. We needed someone with experience who could fully manage our team. We hired the right person, and she has become the backbone of our business. She is able to manage operations so that we can focus our energies on obtaining listings, handling showings, networking and marketing.

We also decided to keep our immediate team very small and focused. There are only four of us, and we are in constant communication on everything — we copy each other on all emails and texts. We operate like a well-oiled machine. We each have our strengths and instinctively know what we need to do. Our motto is “divide and conquer.” It is also important to incentivize and reward people; when we close a deal, everyone gets paid.

Our strategy for building a team applies to anyone from a tech startup to a small ecommerce business. It is important to find team members that can focus on different segments of the business, administration, business development, sales and customer service. Administrative staff can help executives at tech startups stay organized and prioritize to-do lists. Customer service associates for ecommerce businesses are imperative for ensuring customer satisfaction. Business development and sales associates can focus on helping you grow your business while you are focused on your next innovation. Building the right team, and delegating responsibilities to them, will help your business thrive.

Step 2: Find the right freelancers or contractors.

In addition to your internal team, you’ll want to find a great team of freelancers and contractors. We have an amazing internal creative agency, The Agency Creates, with a staff of graphic designers, and branding experts for our collateral needs. That said, most startups and small businesses don’t have the luxury of having an internal creative agency to help develop marketing and advertising materials. There are many freelance graphic designers that you can find that do incredible work. Research online to view portfolios and interview with several freelancers to ensure that they can work within your deadlines. Start with one small job and if all goes well, continue to work with the same person. You can find freelancers in almost any area to service your needs. Once you find the right freelancers to do the job, continue to work closely with them because they are important team members.

Related: How to Build a High-Performance Team

Step 3: Collaborate locally.

The real estate firm that we are partnered with, The Agency, prides itself on collaboration, and we always welcome agents to co-list with us. Our media presence allows us to provide extra exposure for our co-listing partners and we are always open to collaborations. Likewise, we also co-list with other agents at the firm. There have been occasions where we have had an opportunity in a certain area that may be covered by another agent, and we will bring that agent in with us. It works both ways. Find partners that you can collaborate with for mutually beneficial relationships. We have found that being inclusive to collaborators helps us build our business because it opens the door to opportunities that we may not have otherwise been considered for.

Step 4: Collaborate globally.

We receive many inquiries from clients and agents all over the world from our exposure on Million Dollar Listing Los Angeles. We also have relationships with many international agents and brokers through our affiliation with Savills. Building an alliance of international agents and brokers allows us to have a thriving referral business. Sometimes we are also involved in marketing international properties to our client base in Los Angeles.

Related: This Innovation Expert Tells You How to Develop Strong Teams

I encourage everyone to build an alliance of team members all over the world so you can offer your clients a global reach, and profit from a wide reaching referral business. We now live in a global society and every business can benefit from exploring international markets. Research global markets to find where your business might thrive and start networking with people who can help you in those markets. Once you’ve identified potential collaborators, develop a pitch package that outlines how you can help those contacts in your domestic market. People are more likely to help you in their market if you can return the favor in your market. If you build a team of partners and collaborators in international markets, you can build a global business that takes advantage of global opportunities and extend your reach globally.

I look forward to bringing you a new article each week and would love to hear your questions. Please tweet your questions to @jamesBondSt with the tags #Entrepreneur @Entrepreneur, or look for my Instagram post about this article and include your question in the comments and tag #Entrepreneur. I will answer some of your questions directly, and answer some in this series.

Don’t forget to tune in to Million Dollar Listing Los Angeles, Thursdays at 9/8c on Bravo!

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You Won’t Survive as an Entrepreneur Treating Your Business Like a Hobby

Growing up, our parents taught us to choose a career path that we enjoy. To love what we do. That teaching has carried over into our adult lives and is essentially what we strive for in our careers.

According to the Pew Research Center, 49 percent of working Americans are unsatisfied in their jobs. Furthermore, The Balance reports that the average worker changes jobs 10-15 times in their career.

We are constantly looking for that love and that passion from which to build our careers and our businesses — but most people aren’t finding it. That’s because what you love to do doesn’t always make sense for your career.

In her book, “So You Want to Be a Work-At-Home Mom,” Jill Hart, founder of Christian Work at Home Ministries, writes, “Running a business is hard work, and it takes perseverance and determination. If you approach your business as a hobby that happens to make you a little money, it will probably never be anything more than that.”

Think about your own business. Are you treating it like a hobby instead of a career? Here are five ways to change your mindset and make your business sustainable in the long term:

1. Commit

Running a business is not something you can have a casual or lax attitude about. It’s not something you work on in your spare time when inspiration hits. You need to be completely committed to your business and focused on driving its success.

I know what you’re thinking: “But, what if I’m just starting out and need to split my time between my business and my day job?” I totally understand. But, while you may be working on your business in the evenings and on weekends, you need to do more than just dabble in it. It may be your side hustle, but it should be more than a side project.

Related: A Look at the Demanding Schedule of Elon Musk, Who Works in 5-Minute Slots, Skips Breakfast and Avoids Emails

2. Set goals

The purpose behind a business is very different than the purpose behind a hobby. Your hobbies you do for fun and only fun. But, your business, while you may enjoy the work, has a goal. You have a vision and ambition, and you want to grow.

If you want your business to last, you can’t just go with the flow. You need to have a strategy for where your business will go and how you will get there. What are you trying to accomplish? If it’s making a living, what will you do to bring in revenue? How will your process work?

3. Work hard

In his 2005 Stanford Commencement Address, Apple founder Steve Jobs said, “Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do.”

In a perfect world, we would all love our jobs every day. But, the reality is we’re not doing what we love every day — even if it’s our perfect career. Running a business involves more than just the fun stuff. You need to be prepared to do work that you probably don’t love, such as paying bills, fielding phone calls and perhaps managing a team.

Related: 8 Hugely Successful People Who Didn’t Graduate College

4. Focus on profit

The main difference between a business and a hobby? Money. As customer success experts Don Peppers and Martha Rogers wrote in their book, “Managing Customer Experience and Relationships: A Strategic Framework,” “If you don’t have customers, you don’t have a business. You have a hobby.”

If you’re just starting out, you may not have a steady income yet, but that should be your goal. Your business isn’t really a business until you’re making a profit. To ensure longevity, your business should be something you can make money from for a long time.

5. Know your value

Successful entrepreneurs know what they’re good at — and what they aren’t. Sometimes what you love doing and what you’re good at are two very different things. If you aren’t good at something, there’s no way to turn it into a business. I enjoy singing, but nobody is going to pay me money to do it.

Similarly, there has to be a need for what you do. I like playing video games, but that’s not a viable business option. On his blog, blogger Seth Godin writes, “You don’t find customers for your products. You find products for your customers.”

To be successful, you need to find that intersection of what you’re good at, what you love and what people need. When you can check all three boxes, that’s when you know you’ve struck gold.