Yosef Martin | The Most Essential Things to Teach a First-Time Entrepreneur
Scott D. Clary | Mental Models, Performance, Business & Entrepreneurship
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The Most Essential Things to Teach a First-Time Entrepreneur
When you have the ‘entrepreneurial eye’ for opportunity, it can be extremely challenging to know what to keep your attention on. The shiny object syndrome can be a real problem.
I’ve learned this lesson the hard way many times.
Early in my entrepreneurial journey, I had the bad habit of biting off way more than I could chew. Everywhere I looked, every mentor was preaching the importance of ‘saying yes to opportunity’ and ‘never closing an open door’. I took their advice very literally. I never said no.
It didn’t take very long until I was burned out, spinning my wheels, and wondering why I was busy all day long, but not making any progress.
I have since learned the importance of saying no.
Recently, I had the privilege of sitting down with Yosef Martin of BoxyCharm and let me tell you, we went very deep on a lot of topics. This man has had one hell of an entrepreneurial journey; we dissected his view on entrepreneurship and dove into some of the biggest lessons we have learned so far, and the lessons we wish we would have learned earlier.
As a first-time entrepreneur, knowing what to focus your energy on is a crucial differentiator between you and the competition.
This is such an important topic. I’ve decided to dissect it in this edition of the newsletter and give you my top advice on the most essential things you must learn as a first-time entrepreneur.
1. Be Open to Learning and Failing
As overplayed as it might seem, your mindset really is one of the most important things you need to get right as an entrepreneur. You need to approach your entrepreneurial journey with the right perspective, and you need to be able to ride the ups and downs with the right state of mind.
Being open to learning and failing is one of the biggest mindset switches you need to make. As an entrepreneur, you will make mistakes, and you will also learn a lot of valuable lessons. The two go hand in hand; we need to be open to both.
Instead of constantly trying to get everything perfect, being afraid of making a mistake, and avoiding failure at all costs – learn to embrace failure. Stumbling, making mistakes, and even full-blown catastrophic failures are the biggest sources of learning and growth that you will encounter.
Once you switch your mindset away from avoiding mistakes to embracing them and using them as learning opportunities, you will immediately notice huge shifts. You will become more confident, you will learn more quickly and you will be able to think outside the box to find solutions to problems.
2. Have a Clear Plan
It is absolutely essential that you have a clear plan to guide your business. It should be very specific and include your mission, goals, and objectives, with a timeline and milestones you want to achieve. Having a clear plan is one of the best ways to keep you focused and help you measure your progress.
Without a plan, it is all too easy to end up aimlessly wandering or get caught in shiny object syndrome.
Shiny Object Syndrome
Shiny object syndrome is a psychological concept where someone is addicted to chasing new and trendy ideas, regardless of how helpful or valuable they may be.
It’s not a diagnosable condition, but rather a pop-culture ‘disease of distraction’, and entrepreneurs are highly susceptible to it. The characteristics that make entrepreneurs successful – high motivation, extreme curiosity, and obsession with growth and learning – are (unfortunately) contributors to SOS.
If you notice yourself constantly taking on new projects, poorly planning your ideas, confusing your staff with your direction changes, and being unable to finish what you start, shiny object syndrome may have its grip on you.
To combat this, you are going to have to put extra effort into sitting on ideas before launching them, creating a detailed plan, and staying disciplined with following your plan through to the end.
How to Create a Plan
If you don’t know where you want to go, what problem specifically you want to solve, or who you want to solve problems for, you’re going to have a hard time staying focused and riding the inevitable ups and downs of running a business.
Grab a piece of paper, set a timer for 60 minutes, and write down absolutely everything you can think of about your business:
Long, Medium and Short-Term Goals
Problems You Want To Solve
Your Driving Mission
An Outlined Plan to Achieve These
Take the time to make this list clear and concise, and don’t walk away from that paper until you could explain your plan to a 10-year-old.
The point of this exercise isn’t to have everything figured out in one hour. Even if that was possible, it wouldn’t last in the unpredictability of the real world. The point of this exercise is to help you clarify these ideas and points in your own mind so that you are clear about where you want to go, and how you plan to get there.
3. Learn Marketing
Marketing is the lifeblood of every successful business. You could have the greatest idea in the world, but if no one knows about it, it’s going to flunk. A lot of your time in the beginning stages of entrepreneurship should focus on learning and perfecting marketing.
This is easy if you keep one thing in mind: focus on the customer.
The customer should be at the heart of your business. Focus on understanding their needs, wants, and desires, and then build your business around them. Invest in understanding who your customer is, and how you can best serve them.
Finding your specific angle or your ‘niche’ is very important to consider. It is important to find something that sets you apart from the competition and allows you to tailor your marketing efforts to a very specific customer.
Use your unique angle and the specific customer that you are targeting to create your buyer persona, and this will catapult your marketing efforts.
Creating a Buyer Persona
A buyer persona is a very detailed description of an individual who represents your target audience. This is a fictional person, but all of their characteristics are based on the research of your ideal desired audience.
You will give your buyer persona a name and list their demographic details, hobbies, interests, and behavioral traits. This will then represent a very specific segment of the audience you are targeting.
Since there may be several different types of audiences that are interested in your offer, you may have to create several different buyer personas.
The goal here is to think of each buyer persona as a real person (that’s why we name them) so that you can craft powerful marketing messages that are specifically targeted to them.
Utilizing buyer personas to craft your marketing strategy is how you set yourself above the competition. Mark Shaeffer, one of the world’s leading marketing futurists, states that 3-4 buyer personas make up 90% of most businesses' revenue.
Social Media Strategy
A solid marketing strategy is crucial to your business.
Stay visible and leverage the power of social media to reach your customers. There are many new and powerful ways social media can get eyes on your business, and as of today, social media marketing has some of the biggest ROIs in the game.
There are so many strategies to implement in social media marketing that this could easily be an entire article in itself. For ease-of-reading sake, I’ll stick to the basics today (but send me a message if you want me to expand on this in the future):
Organic Content: Using social media’s organic(non-paid) content is one of the easiest, fastest, and cheapest ways to market your business. Create videos, pictures, and written content for all of the main social media platforms you are targeting.
Paid Targeted Advertising: Once you have your buyer persona defined, you can create some paid advertisements to target them specifically. Make sure that you craft your entire marketing message around the specific customer you are targeting.
Influencer Marketing: Use the power of other people’s following to grow your business! Hire influencers with large followings to promote your business, and watch your numbers grow.
4. Learn How to Hire Good Help (And Get Rid of Bad Help)
This is the new mantra that a lot of businesses have when it comes to hiring, and for the most part, it’s a great way to think about it.
As Yosef mentioned in the podcast, not firing fast was one of the biggest mistakes he has ever made as an entrepreneur. As important as it is to hire someone you think will do well in the role you’re looking to fill, it’s equally as important to fire someone who does not fit in well.
Having an employee who does not align with your values, does not respect your decisions as a leader, or simply does not perform what you expect of them will not only hurt your business, it will slowly drain you as a leader.
Learning how to recognize when someone isn’t a good fit as quickly as possible is a very important skill that you must master as a fresh-budding entrepreneur.
On the flip side, ‘hiring fast’ is important for two reasons.
First of all, your time is extremely valuable. The more time you spent bogged down by the menial day-to-day tasks, the less time you can focus on innovating and growing your business. Hire employees to free up your time.
The hiring landscape for high-quality candidates is very competitive, too. If you’re slow to react to finding a great candidate, you will miss out and lose your amazing candidate to someone else, perhaps to your competitor.
The importance of learning how to focus your energy as a first-time entrepreneur cannot be overstated. I have seen too many entrepreneurs with tons of potential burnout after a year simply because they did not focus their energy on what matters.
Developing your mindset to be growth-oriented and not afraid of taking risks is the foundation for a successful career as an entrepreneur. Sitting down and defining your plan clearly is the only way to ensure your efforts are focused.
Following this up with strong, customer-focused marketing and then delegating menial tasks as soon as possible are the keys to actually growing your business.
These are the essential things that I believe every first-time entrepreneur should be taught. It is not an exhaustive list, but it should provide a good starting point for any aspiring entrepreneur.
Good luck, and don't forget: entrepreneurship is about the journey. Enjoy every step of the way!
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