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