There are many reasons to start your own business: the freedom of being your own boss, increased chances of becoming wealthy, the ability to develop and lead an organization where you see fit, and many more.
Yet, as many failed business owners would tell you, starting a business should not be done haphazardly. It takes preparation to not only get a business off the ground, but make it stay in the air long enough to be start making money.
After starting a profitable real estate business, I looked back and saw that five things enabled me to find my footing and thrive in the world of business ownership.
In this article, we’ll look at those five things and why they’re vital to your success.
#1: A Mentor
A mentor is important when you’re starting a business because they can help you avoid the pitfalls they saw when starting their own business. You want someone who’s been there and done that, and who is willing to share the honest truth with you.
Hang out in places where you can possibly find a mentor in your field. In my experience, successful people tend to hang out in places like luxury restaurants/lounges, luxury gyms, the golf course, or at professional seminars. You want to visit these places once a week to put yourself in a position to meet successful people.
Once you find a potential mentor, get to know them. Pick a successful person—then get to know him. Don’t ask them, “Will you be my mentor?” That would be weird.
Instead, offer to buy him dinner or coffee in exchange for answering a few questions. That person will most likely say yes because successful people love to hear themselves talk. For a truly fruitful relationship, you have to make the person want to mentor you.
As Dale Carnegie put it, you have to “bait the hook to suit the fish”—in other words, make that person feel special and eager to work with you. Here are some tips:
- Be easy going and in a good mood.
- Establish the relationship slowly.
- Ask them how their business is going.
- Listen without interrupting.
- Compliment them on their success.
- Try to set up a regular time to meet.
If they can’t commit to a regular meeting, tell them you’ll follow up next week and ask for their email address. (If they offer their phone number, even better, but don’t ask for it.)
If they refuse to give you their contact information or say they’re too busy to meet with you—or seems hesitant—say, “I totally understand; let me know if you are ever free.”
This person may not be your mentor after all. That’s OK. Keep moving.
#2: A “Clean” Idea
The first thing to do when you come up with an idea is to wash it ten times—i.e., clean it. What I mean is, go over it ten times, each time with fresh eyes. Then pick ten of the smartest, most successful people you know and ask each of them to review and critique your idea. Be sure to pick people who will be 100% honest with you.
When you first come up with an idea, it can seem good.
But you have to give other people a chance to rip it apart, shake it down, ask the hard questions, and ultimately wash the dirt out of it. It might hurt a little, but it’s better if the criticism comes from trusted friends and mentors than the world at large.
You want your idea to be in perfectly clean condition before you introduce it to the world. You only get one chance to make a first impression, and it can either destroy your efforts or help you build them into something life-changing.
As each person you’ve selected washes the dirt off your idea, be sure to be open to what they are saying and why they are saying it. You may not agree with everyone, but that doesn’t mean the process is a waste of time.
At the end of the process, you should have a “clean” idea that’s ready for the world.
#3: Rare and Valuable Skills in Your Field
If you haven’t already developed the specific skills required for your idea to succeed, start now and practice as if your life depends on it. If this means additional years in school, getting a certification, or gaining experience, so be it.
Whether you’re a beginner or advanced, ask yourself if you are a master at these skills. You have to be the best. You have to be a master because being good is not good enough. Everyone is good. You have to be so good that no one can deny you.
The only way to reach master status in anything is to practice relentlessly. You need to practice so hard that when you actually perform, it’s easy because it’s second nature.
One definition of being a master at something—my definition—is practicing ten hours per day for ten years. This is a total of 87,600 hours. If ten years seems like too much time to devote to anything, fine—just practice for 87,600 hours.
I’m not telling you that you won’t be successful unless you practice this long, I’m telling you to practice enough that no one can deny how good you are.
Practice until you physically and mentally can’t anymore, and then do it for an additional hour. Trust me, if you do this, you will dance circles around your competition.
#4: The Right Team
Get the right people on the bus and in the right seats.
Getting the right team in place for your business is life or death. Getting the right team in the right positions in your company is just as important.
Over 70% of startups fail because they lack capital and don’t have the right team. Sometimes the company does have the right team, but still fails because the players are not in the right positions. Having the ideal team in the ideal spots is key.
The great thing about an all-star team is that even if your guys take a wrong turn, and they probably will, they will quickly find their way back onto the right track.
Additionally, you don’t have to manage an all-star team, you just have to lead and coach them. An all-star team manages itself as you lead them to victory.
The only person you need to manage is yourself.
#5: Effective Marketing
Having an amazing product or service is a great thing, but it doesn’t mean much if people aren’t talking about it. Yes, talking—because word-of-mouth is your number-one best marketing tool. Potential customers are much more likely to take a suggestion from someone they trust than pay attention to a paid advertisement any day.
Add to that the fact that paid advertising is expensive! Do not make the mistake of putting a lot of your capital into conventional marketing—even if you have a healthy budget. You are better off putting most of your money into the product or service, to make it the best it can be, and then letting its quality speak for itself.
So, how do you generate word of mouth?
Simple. Be SO GOOD at what you do that your clients can’t stop talking about you.
Your product or service will never be for everyone, so don’t waste time mass marketing. Pick a few different audiences, market to them specifically, and measure the results.
Put your energy into figuring out who would be interested in what you are selling, make them aware of it, and do what you can to get them excited about it. When they come on board, reward them. This is part of what will make them raving fans.
It’s OK to copy what other companies are doing within legal bounds. This applies to both the product and the marketing. Do what they did, then make it better!
You have to have a presence online—and a positive one—or you really don’t exist. Create a website for your business and a page on every social media platform you know of—especially Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.
These days, social media can make you a lot of money, if you know how to use it. And that means providing people with genuine content, not just ads and self-promotion.
Forget the hard sell—if you put great information out there, people will trust what you have to offer and seek out your services.
The following is adapted from “Guns, Drugs, or Wealth: The Three-Income Secret to Success That Took Me from the Streets of Detroit to the Top of My Game,” Beast Publications (October 2, 2018).
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