Five Ways Savvy Entrepreneurs Can Excel

Amid recent data reports revealing that the economic outlook among U.S. small-business owners is finally stabilizing, there’s cause for entrepreneurs to be optimistic. Whether or not that outlook begins to uptick not only depends upon how agile, adaptable, creative and resourceful entrepreneurs can be in planning for and reacting to market conditions, revenue and brand-building opportunities, but also how well they maintain a forward-thinking mindset.

To this end, tomorrow’s smart and successful entrepreneurs must have their bases well-covered on these five fronts in particular:

1. Transparency. Operating with transparency used to be a luxury versus a necessity but, now, it’s quite mandatory. Millennials in particular, who wield a tremendous amount of influence and purchasing power, make buying decisions based largely on the origin, manufacturing processes and overall business practices of a particular company. Because Millennials now comprise the largest population in the U.S., to say that transparency will drive how businesses are perceived is an understatement at best. However, the good news is that establishing and maintaining transparency doesn’t have to be difficult. Simply communicating regularly with honesty and unequivocally holding yourself, your staff and your company accountable will go a long way toward fostering goodwill with not only consumers and prospects, but also with vendors, strategic partners and your industry at large.

2. Loyalty. It used to be that only airlines had loyalty programs. Now, everybody from giant corporations such as PepsiCo to mom-and-pop corner coffee shops have some sort of loyalty program, and rightfully so. Every industry faces new competition on a daily basis and customers are understandably price sensitive, often buying from whoever has the best sale or perks. However, what loyalty programs really come down to is creating that coveted repeat customer. For instance, airlines offering free first-class upgrades or hotels room upgrades for elite travelers often create an allegiance that trumps price point. This principle can be applied in every business. If you’re a service company and a client is at the end of their agreement, offer a specific service at a discount or another deliverable with a high-perceived value. Those who do business online can easily build an awards program that fosters a faithful following.

3. Crowdfunding. The ugly truth is if you need a loan, chances are extremely high you won’t be able to get one. In fact, a recent small-business study also revealed that the majority—a full 61 percent—of those who tried to get a favorable loan were unable to do so. Venture capital and private equity funding is equally difficult to come by. While some types of capital are actually easier to procure, the interest rates are usually more aggressive, often prohibitively so. Instead, focus on crowdfunding and non-traditional lenders such as Bond Street, Kabbage and Deal Struck. Global crowdfunding was anticipated to be more than $34 billion, according to Massolution’s 2015CF–Crowdfunding Industry Report. A revenue source of that size is simply too big to ignore and not tap into.

4. Pay-for-Play Social Media. Facebook was among the first to implement the “pay-for-play” model by removing organic reach and focusing on paid advertisements. Since being acquired by Facebook, Instagram is destined to follow. Pinterest and Twitter are also both currently growing into their pay-for-play systems and will likely make it difficult for pure organic reach as well. Unfortunately, this means entrepreneurs will need to increase their social media budget. However, Facebook’s paid ads have been shown to reach a significantly greater percentage of users than organic posts, making paid ads well worth the investment. However, social media shouldn’t only be leveraged as a form of advertising. Rather, social media is an ideal way to handle customer service in such a way that not only improves marketplace loyalty but also your company’s transparency endeavor.

5. Instant Gratification. Simply put, if you don’t offer some form of instant gratification, your prospective customer will likely go somewhere that does. This truth is particularly problematic for businesses that require information from customers, such as insurance or financial services. Having prospects fill out contact request forms to be contacted later for products or services is becoming less and less effective in the “Age of Impatience.” To be competitive, you need to deliver to the customer instantaneously in some way, whether that be with the provision of information they are seeking or other deliverables that will satiate them in the moment and keep them interested for a longer term. Even just offering quicker and more efficient processes in dealing or transacting with your company is certainly a form of instant gratification. At every available touchpoint, strive to impress the customer—an incredibly effective way of evoking that gratified feeling.

No matter what type of business you run, you can still make a profit no matter what the current economic outlook happens to be. This begins with giving customers what they want, how they want it and in a way that’s more sensitive to marketplace vs. company needs. These tools will put your business well on its way to doing exactly that, possibly making 2016 your most successful year yet.

Brian Greenberg is a multi-faceted entrepreneur who has founded an assortment of successful online businesses. He currently co-owns and operates multiple entrepreneurial companies with his father, Elliott Greenberg, which have each flourished for more than 10 years, including,


Wannapreneur Warning!

10 Signs You’re Not Cut Out To Be An Entrepreneur

By Daniel C. Steenerson

Thinking about starting your own business? Beware! Below are 10 signs you just may not be cut out to be an entrepreneur.

10. You can’t stand the heat. Before you jump into self-employment, make sure you’re very comfortable being uncomfortable. Every day you’ll need to try something new for the first time. You have to be ready to put yourself out there and do things you’ve never done before—all with less financial security.

9. You have professional ADD. If you get bored and frustrated easily, or you’re the type of person who likes to go in a new direction every 60 days, business ownership may not be for you. Being an entrepreneur requires unwavering laser focus. Achieving business goals takes time and persistence.

8. You get stage fright. As a business owner, you are the primary spokesperson for your company. You need to be ready and willing to take center stage and spread the word whenever possible. If you’re uncomfortable in the spotlight or you don’t like public speaking, you better master these competencies before you launch.

7. You hate roller coasters. As a business owner, you never know what’s around the corner—it could be a really steep hill or gut-wrenching free fall. There will be countless ups and downs, and you need to be prepared to hang on and enjoy the ride.

6. You think complexity is cool. Complexity may be cool, but it’s hard to create, market and sell. The truth is the simplest solutions are the most successful. As a business owner, you need the ability to distill concepts to their simplest forms so they can be easily communicated and implemented.

5. You can’t explain the steps of shoe-tying. Tying a shoelace is a complicated. So is running a business. You have to be able to delegate tasks and direct others. This means you need the ability to break big ideas into easy, actionable steps for implementation. Big ideas are a dime a dozen. Knowing how to implement them is the game changer.

4. You don’t believe in marketing. Marketing makes the business world go round. If you don’t believe it and embrace it, you’ll never succeed. Be ready to dedicate effort and a decent budget to the task of marketing your company. And give your marketing time to work using a variety of mediums. There’s no silver bullet.

3. You’re easily winded. Once you get past the adrenaline rush of starting your own business, you’ll encounter a portion of the journey called the “middle mile.” Frankly, the middle mile is where you face challenge and drudgery. Your feet will hurt and your breathing will be labored. Despite these inconveniences, you must place one foot in front of the other and press on.

2. You’re a problem passer. In business, there are problems that must be decisively resolved by the owner. Sometimes customers and employees will be unhappy with your decisions and that’s okay. Successful entrepreneurs never postpone difficult choices.

1. You’re on the quest for quick cash. Profit is the result of productive business. It is not why you are in business. You are in business to solve problems and to serve others. If you find a way to deliver a better solution or service than your competitors, you will make plenty of money. But it doesn’t happen overnight. If you want to make quick cash, business ownership may not be the right gig for you.

As these pitfalls exemplify, starting a business isn’t easy, and it certainly isn’t glamorous. But, it can be extraordinarily worthwhile and satisfying. If any of the 10 warning signs above don’t give you pause, you just may be a good entrepreneurial candidate.

Daniel C. Steenerson imparts his success wisdom, principles and philosophies through his proprietary “Science of Visioneering” approach to help companies, entrepreneurs, executives and other professionals realize business greatness. Reach him at–an online community where business owners, executives and other career achievement-minded professionals go for no-nonsense, tell-it-like-it-is success advice.