Your first day in building your startup is like your first day in making photographs.
At first, the idea of photography is mind-blowing. You are excited. You want to photograph like a pro. It’s as if, you’ll transform every scene to a magical-dreamy-palette of bright-alluring-colors.
Sure, you’ve taken some photographs with your latest smartphone.
A few selfies here. A few group shots there. Even, you’ve entertained the idea of photographing some private events. Especially, those with your family and friends.
You feel confident. Pumped-up. Ready to take the next big thing.
Perhaps landscape photography. Perhaps a wedding event. Perhaps a fashion shoot.
Wait till someone hands you one of those professional SLR cameras.
The equipment itself has a sophistication of a spacecraft cockpit. Buttons all over hoping you won’t mess with them. Maybe, eerily-praying you might make them a worthwhile of their maker.
But that’s not all.
The game gets muddled when you press the shutter button.
Bright scenes go dark in broad daylight. Smiles fade into a blurry angry montage. All perfect moments dissipate to the aura of disappointment. It’s as if, you were never there at all. In fact, in the pictures, no one was ever there.
Can you imagine the magnitude of the frustration?
A Victor Approach to Adversity
If you’re brave enough, you stand your grounds.
Was Rome built in a single day?
So, you seek the skills of a profession. You sit down, study, practice, and sweat it until you unearth the abilities of a master. In a year’s time, you become a shiny photographer you envisioned.
Revered. Rejuvenated. A pro.
What About A Coward’s Mindset Towards Setback?
Sometimes, learning, may not find a-front-sit in our schedule.
So, like many fallen soldiers in photography, you may decide to take a shortcut.
Forget you’ve even ever entertained a thought of pressing a shutter button.
And just like that, photoparalysis effect strikes you so hard that you squeak with a shrilling-defeating-cry. Jawbone to the collarbone. Tail between your legs. Off you pell-mell back to the lair you’re crawled out. Back to your old good point-and-shoot smartie…phonie…
Depressing. Isn’t it?
That’s the dilemma I faced when I started photography.
Want the whole episode?
Then visit photoparalysis effect explained.
Startups Often Evoke photoparalysis effect
You gather ideas here and there. Most likely from your close friends and family members. You get inspired and excited. And off you go to the market full of hope. At least, you’ve ventured into your dream job. A wining step towards owning own enterprise.
So, you plan.
Get the products. Supply. Profits roll-in.
In the market, quagmires turn in so often. They don’t care whether you’ve invested your last dime, or you’ve stocked the shiniest merchandise, or you’re breathless pitching your products. All they care is sinking you and your business to the bottom.
Surprisingly, little things do happen.
Once in a while, you might get a dazzle of hope. Someone turns up. At least a sale here, a deal there.
But, it’s not enough.
Eventually, after a while, it starts feeling like you need some marketing classes. It’s as if you’ve lost your entrepreneurial mojo. You feel like a damn in front of your business idea.
Did your inspiration just vanished overnight? What happened to the so promising idea?
Let me explain.
On a superficial, what seemed like a Romeo and Juliet ending, turns to be like Tom chased by Jerry – instead of the other way around.
So,What Happens When Your Innocent Business Ideas Stick In The Mud To Be Unstuck?
You can’t stand the sneer anymore.
Sooner you’re in, sooner you’re out.
Beaten. Bored. Barren of ideas.
You know the itchy feeling.
But starting and running a new business doesn’t have to be a photoparalysis effect. It shouldn’t be a nightmare.
It should be love. An experience of hope. A voyage brimful of tales of bravery.
Shall I explain the rules of the game?
RULE #1. Beneath A Lion’s Bravery, Develop A WhiteHat Hyenasm: Avoid Unnecessary Risks
In case you haven’t traveled to Africa, let me take you to the tales of its jungles. If you have, well, you might notice a few noticeable changes or behaviors you might have missed since your last visit.
Nature is inspirational. It’s beautiful. It unlocks the explorer inside.
But, it’s dangerous too.
Because of Darwin’s Principle of natural selection. The Eat me-I eat you kind of a system.
That’s why, at the top of the food chain, some kingpins enjoy the monopoly – the likes of lions, cheetah, leopard, and hyena. All the above form the fierce cat family. Except for hyena, of course. But, she exhibits a peculiar kind of behavior we’ll shortly see. But, do you know it’s believed that she’s the rightful heir to the kingship of the animal kingdom? Too bad, as we all know, she’s has too many shortcomings to earn such a position. However, to me, she still has a shareholding at the top. She’s strong. Above all, she knows how to survive.
Here is why.
Hyenas Survival Approach: Why A Lions Might Die And Leave The Timid Hyena Living
Interestingly, hyenas rarely hunt for themselves. They survive by scavenging from the top killers. However, when they’re pursuing prey, they go in somewhat a pack. But none will dare approach the dinner directly. Instead, they play a game of loud scornful peals of laughter. Thy bite-and-run until the poor prey gives-in out of exhaustion and severe injuries.
In contrast, a lion risks all her stakes and runs after the healthiest, strongest, and bravest buffalo. However, a hyena will watch at a distance and laugh as the lion faces her death. But, if a hyena wants to eat the same buffalo, she doesn’t go for the strongest. She goes for an easy catch, one that is stuck in the mud or too old to defend itself.
In both cases, however, what matters is the survival instinct. But with the hyena, it’s about calculative moves.
So, what is in for your business, from such a goofy approach to survival?
- Don’t put your startup business at risk. Instead, use proven techniques until your business roots. Then, with stable finance and survival experience, you can go ahead and start testing your new ideas (see a rule on testing ideas).
- Don’t hunt alone, learn to build a dependable team.
- At first stages of your business, it doesn’t matter the quality of the meat, all it matters its survival. So, focus on a step-by-step way of retaining your simple clients till you build a large dependable and high-quality pool of customers.
- Make noise and scare the predators. That is, learn marketing bells and whistles to outperform your competitors.
- Don’t expect much from the market. Small bites might be all you’ll get at the start. Then later, big things will trickle.
- Don’t cower, know when it’s the right time to strike. If you can’t figure out by yourself, why not send a lion to get the meal for you? Meaning, find a professional to substitute your weaknesses.
Understanding your strengths and weakness.
What does the business need you can’t deliver? What are the limitations you face as a person that you can outsource? What does the market offer that you can leverage painlessly?
So, read on to discover more.
Rule #2. Secure 6-Months Operating Capital: You’ll Overcome Short-Term Setbacks
Many businesses fail because of poor financial planning. Unfortunately, the majority have a James Bond approach to running a business.
And it goes like this…
Open the business doors wide open, customers roll in, and profits trickle.
That’s a set-up to an imminent debacle. It’s a weak stance to building a successful business.
Let’s see why with an example.
Imagine you just opened a well-thought fruit parlor business. At the start, you may be selling and wowing your expectations. Your only worry might be satisfying the demand.
But, what if, down one month afterward, it starts raining? The hellish cold breaks loose upon the land. Frosty. Icy.
Definitely, despite all the efforts to pimp your kiosk, no one will want to eat your fruits or drink your juice with such severe cold. They’ll probably want a hot-fruit-parlor. Is that even possible?
Alas, you’ll languish in pains of loses while a butchery business next door selling hot soup laughs in delight of profits. Soon your business operations will halt out of the low financial performance. Soon, you might close if the weather doesn’t change.
I guess that’s not the outcome you’re looking forward.
So, plan your finances in time. Be ready for anything. Look for influential investors with capital to sustain the operational cost of your startup before it picks. Or, secure a six-months operating capital upfront.
Rule #3. Make Sound Strategies For a Soft Takeoff
It’s depressing on your first ever flight.
When the engines fire, and it’s announced everyone to fasten their belts, the drama starts unfolding. Right as it speeds across the runway and begins to lift off the ground, cold sweat form, you hold tight to anything, worse, you feel like throwing. Only in pretense, you impose on yourself a dry smile just to ward off any suspicions.
It’s just an awful experience for a first-timer.
However, will it be amazing if there were better, softer, and unnoticeable take-offs in businesses?
Of course, with proven strategies, it can be a breeze.
So, what are the steps to make your small business take-off smoothly?
- You start by setting the right attitude – probably a whitehat hyenasm blended with bravery.
- You then lay robust strategies ahead of time. For instance, crafting an actionable business plan. An excellent business plan for a startup, therefore, should be straightforward yet compelling enough to allow flexibility while giving you insights you need to build, learn, and grow your venture.
When you build a grand strategy, you create a clean bill of health of your business. You understand challenges your business is facing. You align your vision to suit your customers. You open more business opportunities. Then, your business twinkles like a morning star.
However, all you ever need is a decisive action to design these resounding strategies.
So, read on for more insights.
Rule #4. Make A Bold Limp To Get a Thousand Mile Lead
There is a Chinese proverb you probably know that goes…
“A journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step.”
Maybe this proverb is too simple to hold the weight. Maybe people just want to use it without even grasping its true meaning. Maybe it’s just ignorance of simple little things.
In reality, it’s more than it’s superficial meaning. It’s the bedrock of any successful venture.
In short, it’s, GETS STARTED NOW with your business idea..
It doesn’t matter how defeating you’ve convinced yourself, or how you fill inadequate, or how it’s competitive out there.
All that matters is the determination to start and setup a successful business.
And it starts by turning those simple yet robust ideas into tangible results.
A product you can sell. A service you can offer. A business guide you can sell to help other startups.
But if you’re still thinking and reminiscing past failures, STOP.
Go and start now before it’s too late.
Rule #5. Be Obsessed With Micro-Incremental progress: They Make Immense Improvements.
“Do you know what makes us happy? Progress.”
~ Anthony Robbins
It’s amazing when we make improvements in our businesses. However, sometimes progress doesn’t show up like a storm. Instead, it likes to stealth-slide in swiftly. Perhaps because of financial limitations, intense competition or just a business strategy.
But all that matters is making small noticeable incremental growths.
Which means, don’t go for significant loudest upgrades. They quickly become unwieldy.
Instead, start with small yet thorough changes.
- Start with improving your shop display.
- Add unmistakable large mirror – people love confirming whether they look attractive.
- Paint your shop with inviting and vivid colors to evoke buying emotions.
- Add a doormat with a welcome message.
- Draw custom illustrations and add to your web pages to speak your personality.
Just continue with these small changes until everyone can’t help but notice. Eventually, they will pay dividends.
You’ll have more business. More revenues. More financial freedom.
Rule #6. Embrace Systems That Breathe Life Into Your Business Routines
Adopt systems and tools that substitute your weakness and polish your abilities.
Such systems may include…
A calendar to manage your schedules and monitors your routines. A winning team to offer alternative views and insights. Automation such as a buying cart on your website to automate your sales so that revenue trickle in even when you’re asleep.
In short, embrace systems that make you look like an expert in your business. Systems that make you more productive. Systems that make you more profits. Systems that make you work smart. These systems will save you time so that you can have more with those you cherish.
Rule #7. Detoxify Energy Drainers: They Are Dragging You And Your Startup In The Mud
Some people pretend they understand your challenges. So, they offer executive help only when your business is running and making profits. But wait until it shows simple signs of fever. They hippity-hop off the scene. They leave you stranded. These are energy drainers. Poor weasel souls. They can’t help but pull you down.
When you want to go on the stable ground, they’re busy dragging you back in the mud. When you shoot for the Mass, they see no reason for leaving the Earth. They are just too wet-footed.
You should identify them and detoxify such relationships for they might intoxicate your treasure. Your dream. Your business. Your future.
Instead, seek and embrace those who seek greatness in you. And you’ll energize your business.
Rule #8. Be A Marketer, And You’ll Sell Anything
It doesn’t matter whether you run a brick-and-motor business, a consultancy agency or an accounting software firm. All it matters is how you express your final product with clarity.
That’s why 100% of all successful businesses understand marketing is the engine that drives their success. They inherently know, no matter how much of a solution they provide, they can’t make a single dime without a robust marketing strategy. So they create a team. Sometimes, even teams of marketers to express benefits of their solutions to their final users in the simplest form possible, to draw marketing strategies, and guide user direct to their doors.
You too can do it. You can become a pro like them.
- In the beginning, have your ideal product.
- Then determine the kind of marketing strategy you want to use to promote your product. Evaluate if it’s using traditional method or digital method. I prefer digital. Why? Your product stands a chance to get across millions and millions of people across the world, whether you are asleep, or not.
- Then, focus on the target market. Not everybody is the perfect client for your product. Right? So, don’t sell to everyone. Know your niche.
- Promote your product in existing content marketing mediums. Build a website and start blogging about your products. Build a Facebook group or page to promote your products and engage your followers. Link with professionals on LinkedIn. Pin your products on Pinterest (See the rule on social media in this guide).
- Lastly, learn to pull in clients using proven methods of marketing. Learn internet market and traditional marketing. Learn to sell everything to anyone. (see the rule on pull).
Therefore, don’t wait.
Marketing is a de facto.
You can’t just ignore it.
Rule #9. Breath And Live Accounting To Track Your Financial Success And Failures
However, such mindset awakens photoparalysis effect. An indirect way of saying, ‘am going to fail.’
In business, especially a startup, accounting knowledge is a MUST.
It’s a sniffer in tracking your expenses, your revenues, and differentiating what yours and what it’s business’. Even better, it raises the alarm in the case your business is making losses.
So, start by learning some basic accounting concept. Like, the owner and the business are two separate entities. Meaning, don’t mix business finances with your personal finances. Another simple idea is, your equity is the difference between your assets and your liabilities.
The list may go on and on. But what’s fundamental, you should seek to understand at least the basic accounting stuff.
However, if you still find it a tough, I suggest you check with Rich Dad Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki’s. His simple accounting concepts are damn simple they’ll nudge you in the right direction.
Rule #10. Never Lose Money While Testing New Ideas: It’s Too Risky For a Startup
Rule #1. Never Lose Money
Rule #2. Never forget rule number one.
~ Warren Buffet
It’s incorrect to say that you’ll never lose money. On the contrary, you’ll lose big time than you can imagine. But what matter is when and how you lose your money.
Naturally, startups are vulnerable. Fragile little toddlers. They usually have a 10% chance of survival.
Therefore, you need to be stringent with how you invest, re-invest, run business, and test ideas.
Inevitably, during early stages of your business, you’ll experiment a lot. But that doesn’t mean you throw yourself in the frontline. No. It means you embrace whitehat hyenasm – use proven strategies that work. Then, gain a tight grip, momentum, and eventually develop the immunity.
Once on two feet, set a lab for research and development, test your concepts, and run re-tests till you get your angle. But don’t try this in infancy, especially on a tight budget.
Rule #11. Give Freely, And You’ll Become a Hero
If that is your case, then know you are missing the big picture staring right back in front of you. You’re shutting doors of business than you are opening avenues for deals. You’re merely pushing society back. Your potential clients.
Do you want to know why?
“The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.”
~ Mahatma Gandhi
Successful entrepreneurs know this better than struggling entrepreneurs. The goal is giving back and sowing so that you can leap more.
An excellent case study is From someone like James Mwangi, the CEO of Equity Bank from Kenya. Under his watch, the bank has crafted a great program called wings to fly to fund the education of financially challenged students who are top performers across Kenya. Another excellent Example of an organization that helps needy kids is Pencil Of Promise founded by Adam Braun. To read the full story of Adam Braun, check Lewis Howes book School of Greatness. To be sincere, I can’t exhaust the whole list here. However, there’re countless of organizations out there that do similar fantastic work of giving back.
But, do you know what’s interesting about these cheerful givers?
They never go broke. Instead, they get more and more opportunities.
Why not you?
But, you might say. I don’t have much money to donate as they have.
Well, if that is your case, giving back is not about how much money you have. It’s the desire of giving freely with no gains. It’s about giving back that little you have no matter how insignificant it is.
Someone will appreciate your efforts. Someone will notice. Someone will reward that effort.
And success will rain on you till you drench in it. All I hope, you never drown in it.
So, start giving cheerfully.
Rule #12. Don’t Push, Pull, And You’ll Create Authority No Competitor Will Ever Match
Many startups think selling is all about collecting contacts, emails, and anything they can get on their hands so they can throw back to everyone anyhow, just to close a sale.
That’s perverted approach to marketing. Instead, it does more harm than add an extra sale.
Here is why.
With an average person having an exposure of over 5000 sales emails per day, do you think someone will open yours? Do you think with all these social engineering hacks, someone will return your call? Do you think with over 87.2 million blogs published monthly, someone will read your post?
And if they happen to open your email, or reply your call, or read your article, do you think they will buy from you?
Absolutely few to none.
But you can be better. Better than just spamming for money. Better than just opening your shop, waiting, and praying.
- Add value to your products by giving free quality giveaways. Don’t find it hard to give back. Give something you feel it’s too good to give.
- Present your products uniquely and competitively. That is, how you wrap your products. How you talk to your clients. How you deliver your products and services.
- Give your shop an upgrade by adding unique visual looks. How often do you concentrate on the types of colors you choose? Bright? Dull? Do they speak your brand? Do they evoke the right mood? If it’s a website, does it have a simple go-to navigation? Is it visually appealing? Can people find your services easily?
- Deliver value. A product with high quality makes customers yearn for more. So, how do you make then hungrier? By providing top quality advice in your consultancy. By giving your clients a hands-ups with the buyer-be-aware if your product is low quality or has some defectives. By writing clear, engaging, and compelling copy to pull your readers.
When you pull, you don’t push; you slow down. You show love and kindness. You make strategies that add oomph to your products. You set a clear path for your clients. You are always adding value to their lives, not bogging them with your ho-hum chit-chats. You don’t ramble. You engage. To them, you are a master with a mantle guiding them to victory.
So, be subtle, engage, and grow your reach.
Authority will be on your way.
Soon, your sales will flow in, you’ll bank, and you’ll leave your dream.
Rule #13. Focus On Progressing Your Entrepreneurial Skills: You’ll Eliminate Knowledge Gap
Learn. Learn. Learn.
It’s the only way you’ll add a pull of new strategies in your knowledge pool.
Nothing comes easily though. You’ll have to squeeze-out something to squeeze-in learning.
For instance, in photography, you have to do deliberate practice.
And it goes like this.
You pick your gear, grab some snacks, and hit the road. You experiment various techniques. You can’t stop. You keep making photographs. Some come back bland. Some become bragworthy. What matters, is more practice. The more you practice, the more you become fluent. The more you master blurring. The more you capture candid moments. The more you make insane beautiful images.
In entrepreneurship too, learning is a MUST.
So, get yourself a self-help book. Learn entrepreneurship. Buy a guide to opening a cosmetic business. Buy a course on SEO and content marketing.
Just don’t get tired. Because the moment you stop, that’s when your business quits on you.
So, go forth. Research, take notes and improve your skills.
Rule #14. Master Metrics And You’ll Rule The Market
Failing to interpret metrics, is like being in the business of selling plastic bags that get banned by the government the same day you import your shipment. Bottom line? You failed to pay attention to Ads and warnings that have been airing for the last 10-years.
Admittedly, it’ll send your head spinning. You’ll get into loses. You’ll lose your investment.
So, how can you gather meaningful data to dodge such headaches?
In metrics, you need to be thorough. You need to answer questions like how, when, who, and what. You need to validate your actions with proven data. Not just some goose-chases.
For instance, if you in the Mitumba business, do you know how many items you sold last month, last year and since you started. If you’re in butchery business, how often do you keep the count of the kilos of meat you sell. Can you tell variances and explain why they are happening? If you are running a website, can you know the trend of your user? How they found you. Which gadgets they are using to access your site. Can you measure your performance against your competitors with accuracy?
Why is it essential that you are always ahead with metrics?
In a business, you can’t afford to lose any customer. You need to know where they are, who they are, what they like most, where they spend their most time, what they hate, what are their fears, how they found your business. Just don’t ignore minute details. They may mean a new opportunity.
The key point?
Don’t become the only person who can’t interpret market trends, because your competitors are busy analyzing trends and laying conquering strategies.
Rule #15. Get Experts To Help You Where You Are A Nerd
Ever heard of a Winnie?
She claims she knows everything. She also claims she is perfect in every way. She even claims she can be anything.
An accountant. A Web developer. An operations manager. An employer. An employee. An everything.
“If you want to go quickly, go alone.
If you want to go far, go together.”
~ An African Proverb
In business, we can’t afford to put our ego above our business needs. That’s why you need to identify which tasks you can do better and which one you can delegate. In fact, focus on slicing not less than 70% of your duties so that you can concentrate on the real meat. Your business.
Sure, your assistant might have messed you big time – now you’ve developed a thick skin towards assistants. You may even say you don’t have human resource skills. You may also have tight schedules to lack time to squeeze just an hour to interview your applicants.
However, to me, if you have all the financial benefits on your side, all the these are just shinny excuses.
They make you procrastinate. They overwork you. They drain your energy.
- Find a person with better skills in the area you feel depleted
- Automate some common tasks
- Partner with someone so that you can substitute each other (Talking of a partner, you may want to check the next section).
- If time and skills are your limitations, involve a human resource firm to do the heavy lifting for you. At least you’ll have someone to blame for incompetent assistants.
- Challenge of finances? Then learn to create a working schedule. Plan until everything fits in your timeline. If at the beginning it feels a lifeless task and you are always regressing, don’t fuss. Go slow, make your goals realistic, be consistent, and aim for minimum improvements.
So, learn to build winning teams.
Don’t get entangled with petty issues like someone might snuggle in your business and fail to deliver. Or, someone might not care about your business as much as you do. Instead, trust someone will deliver, however, in their unique abilities.
Rule #16. Sculpture Lasting Marriages: Build Solid Partnerships That Will Shine Your Business.
If there is one little thing you should be highly concerned about, is sculpting a formidable partnership.
A partnership can wreck your business, or it can make it blossom. It can substitute your weakness, or it can become your weakness.
A strong partnership, however, is the bedrock of your business. It’s the source of vitamins that will keep your business healthy.
So, how do you assess and a build a reliable partnership?
- When you enter into a partnership, you need to know what your partner tables.
- You should understand why they want your business or why you want their business.
- You should have a clear picture of their performance, both in the past and current.
- You should even gauge their financial health, so you don’t lay a marriage based on a lie.
- Evaluate partnership with SWOT analysis. Indulge, in unraveling their strength, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats.
- Sign a partnership deed to set ground rules.
Be thorough before you wed, you might discover your partner was just another frog.
However, a real partnership is built on real trust, real business interest, and real mutual benefits.
Rule #17. Make Social Media Your #1 Go-To Marketing Battle Ground: You’ll Win Brutal Tournaments
It’s tragic when people don’t know how a gold-mine is social media in marketing campaigns. Many merely use it to waste time. Later they end up complaining that they need to be productive.
Instead, Don’t be mass.
Use social media to connect with professionals. Use social media to promote your brand. Use social media to gain more traction. Build a community you can trust and believe. Focus on enriching your return on investment(ROI) with these colossal.
Facebook has the biggest of all gems. With over 2.1 billion active users, create groups and pages for engagements. Setup Facebook adds, promote your products, share, and find quality clients.
Twitter is all about exposing your content to a big mass of people that uses #tags. Find influencer to share your content. Find business ideas by checking what is trending in your niche.
Pinterest, though curated to favor trendy women, it’s the best social media to get visual ideas no matter how crude is your niche. Just search interesting pins, pin, and manage your boards to suit your business needs.
In LinkedIn, get professionals in your niche. Know what they’re discussing and what they are sharing. Also, publish and republish your valuable content to position yourself as an expert.
Google Plus, incredibly mandatory to release your latest project. Join circles and share ideas. Get ideas too. Also, share your curated posts to boost your google ranking.
With Instagram, it’s all about sharing pictures. Photographers and any other niche that consumes images heavily will find it a home to promote their business.
There are tons of these social sites, forums, and publishing site you can leverage. However, this list is just a token of what social media can do. All I hope is that I have stirred you in the right direction.
So, stop wasting the potential locked within these tools. They will change your business. You’ll get more traffic. You’ll create more sales. You’ll make more profits.
Just take your time to learn which tool that will give your business an edge.
Are you ready?
Now, it’s your turn.
With 17 startup rules at your figure tips, it’s surefire you’ll kick photoparalysis effects right at the butt.
In short, we want you to be among the 10% of a successful startup. We want you to start with a resounding take-off. We want you to be confident, knowledgeable, and successful.
So, embrace WhiteHat Hyenasm. Build trusted teams. Eliminate poor relationships. Learn, strategize, use proven systems, and market to win.
All the best.
Happy Biashara talking 😊.
Have something to share? Then let’s know your views in the comments section below.