How to Succeed in Business

On this month’s SkillBites Show, our guest was Jason Sherman. Jason is a serial entrepreneur, award winning filmmaker, journalist and tech startup expert. He has been featured by more than 10 media outlets including the Wall Street Journal, USA Today, FOX News, and ABC News. Jason shared several of the tips from his new book Strap on your Boots, a book that consists of the lessons he has learned from his 20 years of starting and running over 5 businesses, to help other entrepreneurs succeed faster and with much less money invested. Below is a summary of 12 of the tips that Jason shared with the SkillBites audience.

  1. 1. You can’t do everything yourself. You will have a better chance of succeeding if you have a team of people to collaborate with and delegate to.
  2. 2. Learn from your mistakes. Don’t get frustrated by them.
  3. 3. To overcome self-doubt, focus on how to make your business succeed, not on whether it will succeed. Create a series of small steps to take, to get your business where you want it to be, and as you accomplish those steps, you will become more empowered and you will worry less about whether your business will succeed.
  4. 4. Before you put a lot of time and money into your business, you need to validate your business idea. Conduct market surveys to find out how your prospects view your product or service, and what features they like the best. Do market research on your competitors to find out what they are doing right and what they are not doing well. When doing market research, include sites like IndieGoGo and KickStarter to make sure your product isn’t already out there. Also explore companies like Amazon and Google to make sure they haven’t already bought a company that’s producing a similar product.
  5. 5. Don’t leave your day job to start your own business unless you don’t need the income and can afford to do so. Lots of companies started as a side businesses. For instance, Apple’s founders worked at Atari until their side business was successful.
  6. 6. When considering someone as a business partner, understand that you will be spending a lot of time together. You need to be able to get along with them. You also want somebody who has the right skill set, including skills that you yourself do not have. Before inviting somebody to be your partner, give them a difficult assignment and see how they do. Only after they have done a good job with that should you invite them to be a partner.
  7. 7. Learn to hire fast and fire fast.
  8. 8. Don’t spend money on a lawyer when you are first starting your business. You can form the company yourself, and you can use online legal forms for most of what you need. Just be sure you understand the documents that you are using. If you have a relative or friend who is an attorney, you can use them. Until your business is actually making money, however, or you want to raise money, don’t waste your funds on retaining an attorney.
  9. 9. Similarly, don’t spend a lot of money on your business until you have determined that you have a viable, marketable product. You can build a prototype and test it out on your prospective customers to get their feedback. Build a small quantity of products to sell. After you have been able to sell your product to 100 satisfied customers, then you can spend money on your business.
  10. 10. Today’s entrepreneurs have a lot of options when it comes to raising money. Whichever funding method you choose, you will likely have more success if you can demonstrate that you have solid technology, traction, revenue, and a solid team.
      a. If you are doing a crowdfunding campaign, you need three elements for a successful campaign: an amazing video; great graphics, content and perks; and promotion of your product before your launch. Most entrepreneurs miss this third element. You should be promoting your product to journalists and bloggers long before you launch your product, and you should have at least 30 days’ worth of marketing content developed in advance of your launch.
      b. When seeking funding from investors, it is best to have a relationship with the prospective investor. Either you need to get a warm introduction to an investor, or you need to build a personal relationship with that investor, such as via social media. Always start by asking the prospective investor for their advice, and not for money. You are likely to get some very good advice, and might get either an interest in providing funding or a connection to somebody who might be willing to invest.
  11. 11. To stay motivated, take lots of breaks. Have fun with your team, and praise them whenever something is done well. Make sure you exercise regularly, eat healthy foods, and get at least 8 hours of sleep per night.
  12. 12. How do you know when to throw in the towel? There are so many different factors to consider. If your company is not making money after a year, consider if there is any piece of your business that is making money and focus on that piece. It may be that your product idea is premature, and the market is not quite ready for it. Or it may be that your idea is late, and has already been done by somebody else. Don’t be ashamed or embarrassed if your business doesn’t succeed. the average entrepreneur fails 4 to 7 times before they are able to run a successful business.

Jason has taken his book and developed it into a home study course. You can find out more about his book and course on his website, jasonsherman.org.

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