Would you be a new investor in your business today? What would make you write a check? Developing your skills as an entrepreneur are different than becoming better at what you produce. Building a business is different than producing a better product or service.
This article is about how you can take control of your business and the skills required to create equity and sustainable cash flow. The ideas to follow are from my real world experience over the last 25 years. These are the key skills I developed and learned were the most important to the bottom line.
One thing that will jump out- I do not mention getting better at “what you do,” that is your technical skill not your entrepreneur skill. Believe it or not being a better cook has nothing to do with building and operating a massively successful business. This can be hard to believe but it’s true. Donald Trump doesn’t swing a hammer and Richard Branson doesn’t fly the plane or record the music. Think about that and let it sink in.
The Six Entrepreneurial Skills: How to Build a Money Machine
#1 Be Prepared to Handle Adversity
Let’s start out with a guarantee-you are going to experience tough days and weeks as a small business owner. It’s not a question of if but when. There will be periods you are putting out fires every day and getting nowhere. This can be exhausting. Learning to learn from your experience can be the most valuable investment you ever make. Please read that again, it takes time to learn from experience, it doesn’t happen immediately.
To successfully handle adversity you need a belief system that will sustain you during these business lessons. Two of the best resources to keep you on track are Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill and Mindset by Carol Dweck.
To quote Hill “every adversity contains the seed of a greater benefit.” Embrace that concept and stress will become energy. You have two choices, complain and feel sorry for yourself or recognize adversity as simply a lesson in what didn’t work, make some changes and take action. I used this technique as a stock trader to sustain my positive attitude. If I had a day or a week where I lost more money than I planned, I would tell myself “Pete that was an expensive seminar, make sure you apply the lessons!” Sounds corny but it always worked, it helped me refocus on getting better.
We are going to discuss this in more detail later but I have found most adversity is the result of not knowing what you are going to do next, far too many business owners “wing it” every day.
#2 Planning for Success: Setting goals, priorities and taking action.
What is your top priority as an entrepreneur? Let’s assume you devote 12 hours a day to your business-which roles will influence the growth of your company the most? Most assume it’s becoming a better cook, dentist or lawyer (get another degree or learn more recipes). Yes that helps but the majority of new business ventures are opened in established markets, being good at what you do is table stakes.
What activities will impact your bottom line the most? Do you need more leads? A better system for converting prospects to customers, more sales to existing customers? A better process to fill orders? In my experience cash flow is king. Which activity will increase cash flow? Spend some time with a note- pad and map out an answer to the cash flow question-then take massive action immediately.
Plan, take action and adjust the plan as necessary. Taking the right action is a skill; too many business owners do busy work. Think it through today; what priorities do you need to schedule?
One last thing here to wrap up this thought. It will be very easy to say you are too busy. Avoid this nonsense and get started. Pick one big thing to plan and get it done this week.
#3 Become an Entrepreneurial Marketer:
How much is your ideal customer worth to you over the next 12 months?
Do you have a system in place to invest a dollar today and get back two as soon as possible?
Entrepreneurial marketing is a business model and direct response strategy created to attract qualified leads and maximize lifetime customer value. The goal of your marketing strategy is to make the highest probability investments in your business so it grows quickly.
There are countless case studies and historical data to prove that most small businesses do not have sufficient capital. To stay in business, the need to get a quick return on investment- is critical to survival.
Let’s first define marketing in today’s business environment.
Educating your potential leads, prospects and existing customers about your expertise and how you can serve them. A good marketing message flags your target market and also repels who is not your target. Good marketing makes it clear how you provide value, the results you can help them achieve and the problems you can help them solve. Good marketing establishes you as an authority. Good marketing does this in multiple media; email, phone, text, direct mail, social etc. Good marketing can be tracked and tested.
Developing your marketing message to resonate with your target is a skill and it takes testing.
P90X produced four infomercials before they got the message that worked. Here is the three part structure I work with:
• who is my prospect, how can I help them achieve a goal or solve a problem
• how can I position my product or service as different in a meaningful way
• what is the message that will tie the two together
#4 How to Sell: Learning to serve
Far too many business owners equate selling to being a used car salesman. If you want to become an entrepreneur who is living the life of his dreams you need to change this belief.
Selling is serving; it is not an evil underhanded scheme to separate people from their money. As a business owner who has created a unique and valuable service it is your obligation to help as many people (or businesses if you are B2B) as you can. You have to believe it would be an absolute injustice if someone paid for an inferior product.
You should be an evangelist for your product, passionate about how much it can help those who can benefit from it. Selling is getting your amazing message in front of as many qualified prospects as possible.
They secret key here is you only want to speak to qualified prospects. Your Entrepreneurial Marketing will take care of this. The horrible images most people have in their mind about selling is “cold calling,” making hundreds of calls and getting the phone slammed in your face. You want to speak to interested people, not everyone. This will make telling your story fun and exciting.
#5 How to Create Offers: More than simply deciding on price
Running your business on price is perhaps the worst decision you can make. There will always be someone who can drop the price lower. You want to offer what makes you unique, different. Good marketing will have uncovered something unique and it should be the core of your corporate messages.
More importantly you must learn how to use different price points to qualify clients and higher price points to boost net profits. This is entrepreneurial marketing at its core. It takes roughly 5X more capital to acquire a new qualified prospect than it does to up-sell an existing satisfied customer.
A skilled entrepreneur will have offers for both. You need a tool box of offers for leads, prospects and customers. Different stages of customer life-cycle require a different message.
#6 How to do the Important Math: Keeping track of the lifeblood of your business
We all want to be wealthy. Other than the freedom of being our own boss, we desire the wealth we dream goes with it. This is also the problem for many, going for the wealth first.
Wealth is the ultimate destination but financial freedom should be the first goal. In business terms this is your monthly break even number which includes salaries. This includes YOUR salary as well (too many business owners pay everyone but themselves each month).
As we have alluded to previously when you implement Entrepreneurial Marketing you will be building a pipeline of qualified leads with “initial offers” to start doing business with you. This entry into your “funnel will help keep you open and pay your bills. As these new leads become qualified customers your business will start to earn money on the “back-end” this is where the wealth comes from.
To get your business beyond the fabled year number three- you need to devise a business plan and marketing plan to pay the bills while you innovate how to run your business most efficiently, as well as give you leads time to get deeper into your customer life-cycle. I am sure you are well aware the actual business you run is never the same one you mapped out. Too many variables change so expect this and keep getting improving.
Thanks so much for visiting us today. Applying these skills can take some time, pick the one or two you may be weak and map out a 90 day plan to improve.