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10 tips for improving the odds of entrepreneurial success

Entrepreneurial success is not a given just because someone has a great business idea, no, a lot of work goes into any company, but these ten tips narrow down the scope of proven methods for success.

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entrepreneurial success

Reaching entrepreneurial success takes dedication

Anyone who has ever launched a tech startup, a retail store, or even a published book knows that entrepreneurial success is a rewarding path but one that does not come without challenge. Each tale is different, as is the destination, but of the few companies that ever make it past idea stage and even fewer that succeed, there are some methods common to all that helped pave that path.

To that end, we asked Hotels.com Co-Founder Bob Diener what you should know about the path to entrepreneurial success because Diener not only co-founded one of the top online booking sites, he then went on to found Getaroom.com, his second venture, where he’s continued his record of success. With thousands of hotel partners joining in just the first three months of 2013 and 70% growth since 2012, Getaroom.com is a testament to Diener’s entrepreneurial fortitude.

“Many entrepreneurs dive into starting their business prepared with not much more than an idea,” Diener said. “The idea itself might be fantastic, but they think that alone will drive in customers, revenue, and eventual long-term success. It takes careful planning, an understanding of market forces, and a heavy dose of realism to get a company from concept to a viable business.”

10 tips for improving the odds of entrepreneurial success

Diener says there are proven ways to improve the odds of success when starting and managing a business:

  1. Establish a real value proposition. Conduct research to be sure your core offering is valuable and not readily available for free. The goal of your business is to earn money.
  2. Focus on uniqueness. You need to stand out in some regard, especially from any company that offers your product/service for free. It doesn’t matter if it’s your delivery method, actual product or service attributes, or price-to-value is your unique attribute, as long as it’s real and easily promoted.
  3. Utilize the experience of others. Seek out mentors and other individuals who can guide you on the merits of your business. They can help you determine if the benefits of your company are easily explainable.
  4. Set realistic goals. Carefully consider the type of business you have and its industry. Look at other successes in your space and try to gauge where you fit in. Don’t assume your product or service will become an overnight hit.
  5. Gauge the competition. Are you competing directly against entrenched firms or is there a niche play where you can capture dollars?
  6. Look at the market size. Lodging is a nearly $500 billion dollar business. If you can grab just one hundredth of one percent of that total, you have a $50 million market potential. Stay away from businesses that operate in tiny markets with thin margins.
  7. Don’t overestimate the benefit of advertising. Most traditional advertising fails to bring in enough business to justify the costs. Word of mouth referrals and non-traditional channels will likely generate results.
  8. Develop a business model. This is the nuts and bolts of the company that answers the big “how” questions. How will you grow while keeping costs in check? How can you handle spikes in demand? You need to manage the bottom line and keep in check all top line expenses. Some companies fail because of poor business planning, even if the product offering is great.
  9. Attract customers cost-effectively. A fundamental error is to use $10 in marketing funds to acquire customers that on average spend $5. Use promotions, social media, and other channels to get quality leads at the minimal price. You need to have profit motives from the start.
  10. Encourage others to talk about your brand. Give incentives for customers to review or profile your brand. Establish relationships with popular bloggers in order to build third-party endorsements.

Diener notes that the devils in the details and that “entrepreneurs that put in the work on the front-end are most likely the ones who will create profitable and well managed companies.”

Marti Trewe reports on business and technology news, chasing his passion for helping entrepreneurs and small businesses to stay well informed in the fast paced 140-character world. Marti rarely sleeps and thrives on reader news tips, especially about startups and big moves in leadership.

Business Entrepreneur

Entrepreneurs’ edge – working quality, not quantity hours

(ENTREPRENEURS) A huge advantage of the entrepreneur life is full control over your day – and using your hours wisely (and creatively) boosts productivity, even if it means sleeping in and staying up late. Think quality, not quantity.

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So often, we hear the phrase “quality, not quantity,” which can be appropriately used to describe ideas we give to our boss or the amount of effort we put into volunteering. The long and short of it is – don’t half-ass something because you think it’s fulfilling the need of “quantity.”

Quality is always so much more important when it comes to output in your job. Like, okay, great, you worked 11 gillion hours this month, but what did you actually accomplish? Did you finish endless busy work and take pictures for social media of how busy you are? Or did you grow your bottom line?

Over the years, we’ve heard a lot about flex hours and more working from home options, but a hot new idea is (you guessed it) quality hours, not quantity hours. Sometimes fitting into that 9-to-5 framework is satisfying the quantity aspect, but are we really being as productive as we should?

Many people argue that we should be working less in order to produce more. Wait, don’t leave, let me explain.

Does it really seem like the best idea to be working when your energy level is in the negatives? Probably not. This opens the door for more mistakes, less engaged work, and less output. If you’re a night owl and your brain fires on all cylinders when the sun has gone down, is it really worth focusing your work energy during the hours that your brain isn’t fully on?

If we work only when we know we’re going to be productive, we can really make the most of our time. Now, don’t get that confused with “sit around and wait for lightning to strike and THEN work,” it means schedule your tasks based on when your mind is typically the most productive.

When are you most productive? In the morning after you’ve had a quick job and some coffee? Or post mid-afternoon when you’re full-on awake? Jonas Downey pondered this question, and said, “I’m usually at my creative peak in the mid-morning and lose steam after lunch, so I shuffle my work accordingly. I do exploratory freeform stuff in the morning, and I save routine tasks (like implementing something I already know how to do) for the afternoon. I also have a rather short attention span, so I take tiny breaks a lot.”

He notes that working just to hit a certain number of hours is counterproductive, because in that time, there are likely to be hours worked when you are not at your best. Click To Tweet

Be honest – do you do your best work when your head is in the clouds, or when you show up to a task, raring to go?

Glorification of the 80 hour work week is dead in most circle, so consider scheduling yourself for times and days that your brain will cooperate with you instead of work against you and force you into menial work that feels like you’re accomplishing tasks!

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Business Entrepreneur

How freelancers can keep the peace with difficult clients

(ENTREPRENEUR) Freelancers are in a tight spot – keeping customers happy pays the bills, even when they’re impossibly difficult. Let’s discuss how to overcome this tremendous challenge.

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Freelancers have a myriad of benefits, but one distinct drawback is that there isn’t always a team to back you up if you find yourself working with a particularly nasty client. It’s especially important to keep clients — no matter how insufferable they may be — in good moods, so here are a few tips on keeping the peace with your most annoying customers.

It’s worth noting that you can often mitigate a large amount of potential misunderstandings — and thus, nastiness — by being clear with your intentions, terms, and rules up front and over-communicating at all times. A common issue for beginning freelancers is a tendency to settle on less-than-optimal terms for fear of losing a potential customer. A piece of advice – if they’re not willing to pay you what you’re worth now, they never will be.

It also helps to keep in mind that most obstinate clients are simply control-freaks who have found themselves outside of their comfort zones. Knowing that you aren’t dealing with inherently bad people can be the difference between snapping and having more patience.

Once you’ve established that your client is causing you substantial enough discomfort that their behavior is no longer acceptable, your first step should be to communicate to them the specifics of your problem. If possible, do this in writing – promises made via email tend to reinforce accountability better than phone calls.

Freelancers should also avoid using any additional stipulations or rewards for getting clients to cooperate. As long as they’re the one failing to hold up their end of the bargain, they should be the one to pick up the slack — don’t do their work for them (or, if you do, make sure you charge them for it).

Again, the majority of client-freelancer issues can be boiled down to miscommunication and shaky terms, so address all issues as quickly as possible to avoid similar problems in the future. And as previously stated, over-communicate at all times.

Of course, keeping the peace is only viable up to a certain point of abuse.

If your client doesn’t pay you by the agreed-upon due date, continuously disrespects you and/or your team, or keeps changing the terms of your agreement, you reserve the right to set the client straight, threaten to take them to small-claims court, or — if you haven’t initiated the work for your end of the deal — terminate the contract.

Remember, freelancers don’t owe inconsiderate customers the time of day, and for every non-paying customer with whom you waste your time, you’re missing out on a paid, legitimate opportunity.

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Business Entrepreneur

Google makes it easier to identify veteran-owned businesses

(BUSINESS) Finding veteran-owned businesses just got easier thanks to a new feature from Google (one that veteran business owners can easily take advantage of).

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Google My Business (GMB) is the main database for search engines. It’s a powerful tool used by consumers and businesses. To help customers and business-owners, GMB added a very important category last fall. Businesses can now be identified as veteran owned.

The U.S. Small Business Administration estimates that there are 2.5 million businesses majority-owned by veterans in the United States. In one report, these veteran-owned businesses employ over 5 million people and have an annual payroll of $195 billion. Texas ranks #2 in having the most veteran-owned businesses, following California.

The support that Americans give vets is inspiring. The cool thing about this feature from GMB is that it helps consumers find businesses to support. The men and women who gave service to our country deserve support once they’re civilians. Look for veteran-led businesses when you use Google.

Customers aren’t the only ones who will take advantage of knowing whether a business is owned by a former service member not. Fellow vets often go out of their way to support each other. Who better to provide information about resources and opportunities than someone whose been there?

If you’re a business using GMB, it’s easy to add this attribute to your listing. It’s under the About category. The instructions for mobile and desktop can be found here. The only other attributes currently available are family-led and woman-owned.

It’s unknown how many people actually seek this information out or will actually use it. It’s estimated that about 10 percent of small businesses in the U.S. are veteran-led. These businesses aren’t just providing an economic impact on communities. Veteran-owned businesses hire fellow vets in higher volume than non-veteran-owned companies. USA Today reported that vets thrive in the small business world, attributing success to their core values, such as discipline and organization that make vets able to commit to a business and serve customers.

We applaud Google for adding this attribute to their database of information.

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