Entrepreneur Advice: If I knew Then, What I Know Now

Posted on

I hear all sorts of business statistics every day. One of the most startling is that 95% of businesses fail in the first five years. Over the last week I’ve been in touch with five awesome entrepreneurs who have traveled further along the path to success than many others. But like all successful people, they have also seen their share of mistakes and failures along the way. I asked these entrepreneurs to tell me what they know now, which they would like to have known before starting up. Their answers could help you avoid critical mistakes in your business. Here is what they came up with.

Neil Patel – Crazy Egg & KISSmetrics

When I was starting up, I wish I knew that one of the key ingredients to creating a great product is to make it simple. This sounds obvious, but way too many people, including well-known entrepreneurs, end up creating products that are hard to use and complicated. By creating something that is simplistic, you can typically decrease your churn, decrease support costs, and increase the speed of on boarding.

If I knew this when I was starting out I would have made sure that a few of my past products were drop dead simple, which probably would have made them much more successful.

Neil Patel - EntrepreneurNeil Patel is the co-founder of Crazy Egg and KISSmetrics. He helps companies like Amazon, NBC, GM, HP and Viacom grow their revenue. The Wall Street Journal calls him a top influencer on the web and Entrepreneur Magazine says he is one of the top entrepreneurs in the world. He was recognized as a top 100 entrepreneur under the age of 30 by President Obama and a top 50 business influencer by Dun and Bradstreet. Neil has also been awarded Congressional Recognition.

Chris Ducker – Virtual Staff Finder

Of all the business lessons that I’ve learned over the years, if I had to choose one thing that I wish I’d started earlier on in my career as an entrepreneur, it would be to have started blogging and building my personal brand way sooner than I did. It’s the personal connections that I have made through my blog over the last 4-years that have amassed more opportunities than anything else I’ve done in the last decade. More and more than ever before, people want to do business with other people – those with real personal brands. Those that are seen as thought leaders. Those with a platform that shows them off as an expert, the go-to person in their niche. I wish I’d started building my platform sooner.

Chris Ducker - EntrepreneurA serial entrepreneur, virtual staffing expert, blogger, podcaster and author, Chris Ducker helps other entrepreneurs catapult their businesses into the 21st century utilizing what he calls the ‘New Business’ style of marketing.

Chris is the founder of Virtual Staff Finder, the number one provider of dedicated, experienced, offshore Virtual Assistants. You can follow Chris on Twitter.

Corbett Barr – Fizzle & ThinkTraffic

I wish I had known just how simple business really is. Make something people want. Care about your customers. Build something that solves a problem, need or desire, and present it in a way people are willing to pay for. Make sure your solution unique and noteworthy.

That’s really all there is to it. Business isn’t magic, but it does require plenty of hard work. A little luck doesn’t hurt either. Keep trying to find ways to be indispensably useful to a group of people and you’ll eventually succeed.

Corbett Barr - EntrepreneurCorbett Barr is founder of Think Traffic, a site that attracts over 200,000 visitors each month. Corbett is also co-founder Fizzle.co, a video training library and community for online business builders. The goal of Fizzle is to help online entrepreneurs grow their business, revenue and fulfillment until they’re buzzing with creativity, impact, potential and purpose.

Dan Norris – WP Curve

If your business isn’t going as well as you wanted the most likely reason is you aren’t producing high enough quality work. You can look at your conversions, update your pricing, buy the latest business ebook or come up with 100 new ‘big ideas’. But at the end of the day if you do high quality work over a long period of time, most of the rest will look after itself.

I’ve tried plenty of ideas over the last 7.5 years in business. Some have done ok, some haven’t. My latest business WP Curve gets almost daily emails with customers raving about our work. Customers pro-actively refer us. 100% of our customers say they are ‘very likely’ to refer us or they already have referred us. We have double digit monthly growth without any marketing. I put it down to aiming for excellence in everything we do. People notice.

Dan Norris - EntrepreneurDan Norris is a driven and relentless entrepreneur with an obsession for the web and content marketing specifically. This year he was voted Australia’s top small business blogger by Australia’s largest business magazine (Smarter Business Ideas Magazine).

Dan is the co-founder of WP Curve which offers 24/7 WordPress support, unlimited small fixes and maintenance from just $69 per month.

John McIntyre – Drop Dead Copy

When I started, I was a little bitch when it came to selling. Sales and marketing felt sleazy… like I was manipulating someone into doing something they didn’t want to do.

But these days, provided I have a valuable product that solves a real problem, I see it as my ETHICAL DUTY to do everything I can to get someone to buy it, otherwise, I’ve effectively “stolen” the benefits of my product from them.

The biggest barrier to most people’s success in marketing is a “phobia of selling”… they are unwilling to aggressively promote themselves or their product.

John McIntyre - EntrepreneurJohn McIntyre is known as The Autoresponder Guy. John uses email trickz that turn even the coldest dead prospects into die-hard customers and fans.

Get The Autoresponder Guy’s daily email trickz at Drop Dead Copy (also includes the Email Marketing Podcast).

Matthew Ozolins – Webics ;)

Seeing as I wanted this post to happen in the first place, I figured It made sense for me to explain what I wish I knew before I started up.

Before starting up, I wish I knew the difference between building a business and building a job. I spent a lot of time doing the same low-level tasks over and over again, which was stunting the growth of Webics. I know now, it is important to develop systems in my business which are 100% focused on customer success and delight. Once I have a working system, pretty much anybody should be able to work on the things that are not really worth my time. While they are doing that, I am working on marketing the business and perfecting the art of turning my new leads into new clients. When I started making an effort to work like this, every day felt more productive and Webics started growing.


I'm Matthew, I co-founded Webics and am currently an Executive Director of the company. I specialise in building marketing systems that help businesses work smarter rather than harder on growing great brands with loyal customers. You can circle me on Google+ or follow me on Twitter and Facebook.

  • http://wpcurve.com/ Dan Norris

    Good stuff mate thanks for including me.

    • http://www.webics.com.au/ Matthew Ozolins

      You gave great advice, Dan. Thanks for being a part of it!

  • http://www.entrepreneuronfire.com/ Kate | EntrepreneurOnFire

    Amazing post – it’s so inspiring to read what all these great minds have to say about their journey. No one just “makes it” over night, and these struggles are proof of that. Thanks for sharing these insights Matthew!

    • http://www.webics.com.au/ Matthew Ozolins

      I remember Ruslan Kogan saying it took him thirty years to become an overnight success haha. People will rarely see the failures and mistakes that happen before the success, but they are great to learn from.

      I am really glad you were inspired by the post :)

  • Mathew Beeche

    Great Post Matt!

    • http://www.webics.com.au/ Matthew Ozolins

      Glad you like it mate! Also, thanks for the advice in your workshop earlier this year. I have been trying to implement it as much as possible, getting better over time. I am having a little PR brainstorming session this week actually :)

  • http://www.wpcurve.com/ Alex McClafferty

    Solid post Matt. Let me know when #2 is in the works… We can talk about steering icebreakers through the icy cold waters of Antarctica – aka cold emailing / cold calling.

  • http://www.navidmoazzez.com/ Navid Moazzez

    This is such an awesome post Matthew, very inspiring read!

    I follow most of the great people on this list, and it’s awesome to see how they started and learn more about their journeys. It takes a lot of hard work to get to that point, but when you do it’s so worth it :)

    Thanks for sharing this with us!

    • http://www.webics.com.au/ Matthew Ozolins

      Happy to hear my post has inspired you. Making it come together was inspiring also, these people were so happy to give up some of their time to write for me. You’re right, success is worth all the hard work it takes. What is it Charlie Sheen said? Something along the lines of “People say it’s lonely at the top, but I sure like the view.” Just keep climbing.

  • Order Online Express

    Great article Matt!

    • http://www.webics.com.au/ Matthew Ozolins

      Hi Amy! Thanks a lot. I hope life in Canada is awesome :)

  • Pingback: The Pros of Working with an Entrepreneurship Coach | Advice For Entrepreneurs

  • Pingback: 6 Top Tips in Generating Fresh Ideas for Blog Content |

  • The Digital Age Blog

    Great post Matthew. It is really inspiring and interesting to meet all this amazing achievers.

    • http://www.webics.com.au/ Matthew Ozolins

      Glad you liked it :)

  • Pingback: Honesty, traction and $6196 MRR - Rocktober monthly report! - thedannorris.com

  • http://www.webphenoms.com/ Bryan Perez

    I love Corbett Barr’s remark “business is simple”. Some days I get drowned in the details, but I’ll make sure to remember to keep it simple. Focus on making something people love.

    Great post.

    • http://www.webics.com.au/ Matthew Ozolins

      It is great advise. Use it wisely and the rewards will be plentiful haha.