5 Things You Need to Do to Make Your Business Really Take Off
You quit your day job, and you’re now focusing full time on your business… congrats. That’s a huge deal. If you’ve already followed our tips on how to Quit Your Day Job and how to Launch Your Business, and you’re ready to move forward, but aren’t sure what strategies to embrace to make your business really take off, well, you’re in luck. We’re back with more tips on how to take your newly or not-so-newly launched business and steer it in the direction of greatness, thanks to advice presented by the entrepreneurial hustlers at HustleCon 2015.
Learn the Rules of Systems. Then Break Those Rules.
You’ve started your business. Things are going along swimmingly, but at some point, you’re going to hit a roadblock. How you deal with that roadblock can be the difference between blasting off as a business or folding and going back to work for someone else. When it comes to figuring out how to tackle a problem, we picked up some tips from a few of the speakers at HustleCon. Firstly, Jack Smith from Vungle got his first $2 million in funding by learning the “rules” of LinkedIn ads and then figuring out how to manipulate the system to get his messages right in front of the person he was seeking funding from. You can read exactly how he did it here. No matter if your goal is to get a job, score a client or reach out to an investor, you need to figure out how not to be one of the hundreds of emails they receive on a weekly basis. You can stand out, but only if you’re willing to break the rules. Smith made it very clear, though, that when you break rules, there are risks involved. You might piss someone off, but that risk might be worth it if the end result is scoring that dream client or partnering with that business that is going to launch you toward success.
On the other hand, sometimes you need to change the rules all together. Jessica Scorpio, the founder of car-share company Getaround, knows exactly how to do this. Her company almost didn’t take off due to laws dealing with insurance coverage around owners of the cars and drivers of the cars and holders of the insurance. Rather than throwing up her hands and quitting, she actually had the laws changed. That’s the type of determination, tenacity and evolutionary mindset you’re going to need to constantly have to make your idea work.
Give Real Founder Equity
This idea that you have is your baby, and you would do anything for it. But since you can’t do everything yourself, you need more hands and more minds that can balance out your skill set — whether that’s a COO, CTO or some other C-level partner. Besides finding that person (or those people) who are going to balance out your skill set, you want them to feel so much passion and feel so invested in the idea that the survival of the business is what keeps them up at night. Likely, they aren’t going to do this for nothing… even if they initially say they will.
Arum Kang, the founder of the dating website Coffee Meets Bagel, is adamant that if you want someone to give it their all, you need to give them real founder equity. She said she sees a lot of CTOs, a few years in, feeling bitter that their cut isn’t quite fair for the amount of work they put in. And while most founders are giving 5% to the C-level execs, Kang challenges that 10% is the more realistic number.
True or false: The product or service that you’re providing is the most important part of your business. True, true and even more absolutely true. If you don’t have a product that works and fulfills the need of someone out there, your popularity and your community of loyal follows won’t really matter (or will drop off once they realize what’s going on). But once you have that product that works, you need to focus on getting it out there. And one way to do that is by building content and focusing on SEO. Tim Chen, founder of NerdWallet, knows this best.
He hacked together his website by copying and pasting code from around the web to do what he needed it to do. Was it perfect? Far from it. But did it work? It did! Does it matter if it works if you don’t have users? Turns out, it doesn’t. To get his name out there, Chen started a pretty serious blog about money matters and really focused on SEO, adding in the right links to posts and generating content that would help people stumble upon his site. The hardest part about this is going to be that you will see that things are broken and need fixing, but if your current goal is to get users, then you need to ignore the fires burning around you and write some content! Around the web, you can find Tim Chen writing not only for NerdWallet’s blog, but for the likes of the Huffington Post, like NBD.
While it’s tempting to constantly be answering emails or starting one thing and then moving to the next willy nilly, if you do that, you’re never going to accomplish anything. Instead, focus on one task in your day and try to accomplish that and then move on to the next. Andrew Warner, the founder of Mixergy, an interview site for entrepreurs, believes in simple mantras and mala beads. He wears them on a daily basis, and while he’s walking to work or riding the bus, he goes over each bead and states his goal for the day. Whatever it is that helps you focus, make it part of your daily routine and work toward your one goal for the day.
Find the Right PR Firm
If you think online dating is hard, hold on tight. Because finding the right PR agency makes dating look like a walk in the park. You’re going to need someone to help you get the word out. And how you can do that is with a PR firm. Heidi Zak, founder of bra company ThirdLove, gave us a crash course on how to find “the one.”
Firstly, know that even though PR companies say they can cover multiple industries, they truly are only experts in one area. You can’t have that fashion-tech-retail trifecta in one PR company. So what you need to do is figure out which market you really want to make movement in and focus on finding a PR company that specializes in that area.
Secondly, know that most people are not happy with their PR firm. Rather than wasting your time approaching firms, just start asking other entrepreneurs who they use and if they are happy with them. You’ll quickly find that 90% of the people are not happy. If you get a “they’re okay,” that is a green light to reach out and see how you could potentially work with the “okay” firm. The process isn’t going to be fast or easy, but once you find the right one, you can start getting placed in the likes of Fast Company, Forbes, InStyle and The Cut.
Have any other tactics for making your business take off? Give us your tips in the comments below!
It can be intimidating to step out on your own and build a business from the ground up. As part of our collaboration with Office Depot, we're talking with Selfmade alum and solopreneur Colette Lawrence, the faith-based motivator and relationship builder behind The M.E.E. Movement, about ways in which women in business can find success.
B + C: How did you know M.E.E. Movement was your business to start?
The M.E.E Movement represents motivation, empowerment, and encouragement for women. It is what represents me. I did not know at first that it was my business to start, but then the thought of monetizing what I loved came to me. It scared me, however. I registered the business in July 2020 and have been slowly building my wings since.
B + C: What's one strategy that's helped you start your business?
Thinking through and researching what the requirements are to start my business, and then asking questions of people who are in the business. Not all advice worked; however, it helped me to figure out what I needed to do and not to do.
B + C: Did you always know life coaching would be your entrepreneurial path?
(Smiles) No, I did not. I 'stumbled" on it. I knew that people were always coming to me for advice and I found that I loved having conversations with them, especially with women, young and old.
B + C: What was your most valuable takeaway from Selfmade?
My most valuable takeaway was the first day of training: Get out of your own way. There were a lot of great moments and important takeaways from every presenter. However, getting out of my own way, pushing past doubts, was for me my most valuable takeaway. Doing something that I had never done before took courage. If I do not focus on what is happening with me mentally then I cannot deliver to my clients successfully.
B + C: What's one piece of advice you would give to female entrepreneurs on the brink of starting?
Get out of your head. You have something to offer. You have what you need to succeed so go ahead and do it.
B + C: How do you stay motivated?
I stay motivated by listening to music and listening to motivational speakers, and sometimes someone will just reach out and talk about the impact that I made in their life. That adds the extra juice or sauce I need to pummel through the day.
B + C: What's your best organizational tip?
Keep a diary and journal. It's the best way for me to keep organized and it also provides a source motivation as I record not only my "losses" but my wins as well.
B + C: Who inspires you in the entrepreneurial space?
Shirley Toliver – She motivates and empowers and makes me always want to show up.
B + C: What has receiving the Office Depot scholarship to Selfmade done to help you start or grow your business?
The scholarship was a blessing in that all the areas that were covered offered valuable information that I needed, from social media to HR. As a new business owner, I needed to know this to increase my own personal awareness in what it takes to run a successful business. The candidness of the presenters made it easy to see myself in their shoes and helped me to realize that I can also get there.
Want to feel motivated to take the next step for your business? Let Office Depot OfficeMax give you the confidence you need with a suite of business services & solutions to help you put your best foot forward. Make a good first impression with business cards & build the business pitch of your dreams with custom presentations. With Office Depot OfficeMax you'll find the tools to reach new customers with confidence.
Head to Office Depot's Selfmade page to check out even more amazing business resources (and discounts!) to help you accomplish more on your entrepreneurial journey. These offers are available for a limited time only, so be sure to take advantage of all this goodness while supplies last. Want to join the next Selfmade cohort this summer? Check out all of the scholarship details right here.