8 Slow, Difficult Steps to Become a Millionaire

Success Lessons From 2 Innovators Who Came Out Swinging

“Success is making those that believed in you look brilliant.”

For me, money doesn’t matter all that much, but I’ll confess, it did at one time (probably because I didn’t have very much). So, let’s say money is on your list. And let’s say, like millions of other people, that you’d like to be a millionaire. What kinds of things should you do to increase your chances of joining the millionaire’s club?

Here are the steps I’d suggest. They’re neither fast nor easy. But, they’re more likely to work than the quick and easy path.

1. Stop obsessing about money.

While it sounds counterintuitive, maintaining a laser-like focus on how much you make distracts you from doing the things that truly contribute to building and growing wealth. So shift your perspective.

“See money not as the primary goal but as a by-product of doing the right things.”

2. Start tracking how many people you help, even in a very small way.

The most successful people I know – both financially and in other ways – are shockingly helpful. They’re incredibly good at understanding other people and helping them achieve their goals. They know their success is ultimately based on the success of the people around them.

So they work hard to make other people successful: their employees, their customers, their vendors and suppliers… because they know, if they can do that, then their own success will surely follow.

And they will have built a business – or a career – they can be truly proud of.

3. Stop thinking about making a million dollars and start thinking about serving a million people.

When you only have a few customers and your goal is to make a lot of money, you’re incented to find ways to wring every last dollar out of those customers.

But when you find a way to serve a million people, many other benefits follow. The effect of word of mouth is greatly magnified. The feedback you receive is exponentially greater – and so are your opportunities to improve your products and services. You get to hire more employees and benefit from their experience, their skills, and their overall awesomeness.

And, in time, your business becomes something you never dreamed of – because your customers and your employees have taken you to places you couldn’t even imagine.

Serve a million people – and serve them incredibly well – and the money will follow.

4. See making money as a way to make more things.

Generally speaking there are two types of people.

One makes things because they want to make money; the more things they make, the more money they make. What they make doesn’t really matter that much to them – they’ll make anything as long as it pays.

The other wants to make money because it allows them to make more things. They want to improve their product. They want to extend their line. The want to create another book, another song, another movie. They love what they make and they see making money as a way to do even more of what they love. They dream of building a company that makes the best things possible … and making money is the way to fuel that dream and build that company they love.

While it is certainly possible to find that one product that everyone wants and grow rich by selling that product, most successful businesses evolve and grow and as they make money, reinvest that money in a relentless pursuit of excellence.

“We don’t make movies to make money, we make money to make more movies.” ~Walt Disney

5. Do one thing better.

Pick one thing you’re already better at than most people.Just. One. Thing. Become maniacally focused at doing that one thing. Work. Train. Learn. Practice. Evaluate. Refine. Be ruthlessly self-critical, not in a masochistic way but to ensure you continue to work to improve every aspect of that one thing.

Financially successful people do at least one thing better than just about everyone around them. (Of course it helps if you pick something to be great at that the world also values – and will pay for.)

Excellence is its own reward, but excellence also commands higher pay – and greater respect, greater feelings of self-worth, greater fulfillment, a greater sense of achievement… all of which make you rich in non-monetary terms.

Win-win.

6. Make a list of the world’s ten best people at that one thing.

How did you pick those ten? How did you determine who was the “best”? How did you measure their “success”?

Use those criteria to track your own progress towards becoming the best.

If you’re an author it could be Amazon rankings. If you’re a musician it could be iTunes downloads. If you’re a programmer, it could be the number of people that use your software. If you’re a leader it could be the number of people you train and develop who move on to bigger and better things. If you’re an online retailer it could be purchases per visitor, or on-time shipping, or conversion rate…

Don’t just admire successful people. Take a close look at what makes them successful. Then use those criteria to help create your own measures of success. And then…

7. Consistently track your progress.

We tend to become what we measure, so track your progress at least once a week against your key measures.

Maybe you’ll measure how many people you’ve helped. Maybe you’ll measure how many customers you’ve served. Maybe you’ll evaluate the key steps on your journey to becoming the world’s best at one thing.

Maybe it’s a combination of those things, and more.

8. Build routines that ensure progress.

Never forget that achieving a goal is based on creating routines. Say you want to write a 200-page book; that’s your goal. Your system to achieve that goal could be to write 4 pages a day; that’s your routine. Wishing and hoping won’t get you to a finished manuscript, but sticking faithfully to your routine ensures you reach your goal.

Or say you want to land 100 new customers through inbound marketing. That’s your goal; your routine is to create new content, new videos, new podcasts, new white papers, etc. on whatever schedule you set. Stick to that routine and meet your deadlines and if your content is great you will land those new customers.

Wishing and hoping won’t get you there – sticking faithfully to your routine will.

Set goals, create routines that support those goals, and then ruthlessly track your progress. Fix what doesn’t work. Improve and repeat what does work. Refine and revise and adapt and work hard every day to be better than you were yesterday.

Soon you’ll be good. Then you’ll be great. And one day you’ll be world-class.

And then, probably without even noticing, you’ll also be a millionaire. You know, if you like that sort of thing.

 

-Courtesy: Entrepreneur.com

Noah Kagan on Entrepreneurship, and a Tool to Help Us All

Noah Kagan was the 30th hire of Facebook, an early hire of Mint.com, and creator of AppSumo, which is a free newsletter to help startups kick ass. He also is one of the most interesting innovators I have ever met, and I am honored to call him my friend.

Noah spoke at AlleyNYC and we hang out in similar circles. However, our friendship was solidified when we travelled together to Moscow last year. This trip was awesome, and we were accompanied by Alexis Ohanian, Mike Seibel, Steve Hoffman, Tikhon Bernstam, Roger Dickey, Emmett Shear, and Justin Kan. Talk about a group of people: excluding me, these guys revolutionized the Internet.

(PRO TIP: I want to give a HUGE congratulations to Justin, Mike, Emmett and the whole Twitch team for a $1 billion exit to Amazon. First YC team to have a billion-dollar exit. You’re buying the drinks.)

Noah Kagan on Entrepreneurship, and a Tool to Help Us All

From left to right: Sergey Gusev, Tikhon Bernstam, Roger Dickey, Steve Hoffman, Justin Kan, Jay Jideliov, Alexis Ohanian, Mariya Nurislamova, Mike Seibel, Jason Saltzman, Emmett Shear, Noah Kagan.

Over the past year, most of us have kept in touch. Aside from being amazing entrepreneurs, this is a group of just awesome, authentic people. I have learned so much from them and ask their advice frequently. Most recently, I asked Noah to share some quick business advice with us:

Look for the anomalies of success: When Noah started AppSumo he never asked for emails. Then, over time, he realized if he got an email he didn’t have to do amnesia marketing, where you have to start over every time to reach your customers. What you need to do in your business is pay attention to which parts of your business are working and why. Then do way more of that.

His company saw that emails helped grow their business and focused exclusively on growing their email list to 700,000. His company recently released a free tool called SumoMe.com, which comprises all the tools they’ve built internally to grow their email list. Check it out.

Founders, STOP being lazy: Noah believes that entrepreneurs are becoming lazy. He feels that you need to go out and make opportunities happen, instead of waiting for them come to you. “A lot of founders I talk to these days think that you will just build something and get users,” he said. “You have to work your ass off, fight for every customer and opportunity that is out there. This takes work, and it’s not sexy. It’s hard work.”

I cannot tell you how much I agree with this philosophy. We all read stories of these huge wins and the media sometimes makes it look easy. As I’ve said before, the Yankees make it look easy, too, but you try hitting a 100 MPH fastball. It took years of conditioning and training to become that good. Read Malcolm Gladwell’s “Outliers” and refer to the 10,000 time rule. You want to be good at something? Try doing it 10,000 times and work your ass off.

Be Persistent: Noah also believes that founders are not patient enough. “The challenge is persisting and being patient when things don’t seem as promising,” he told me. “It’s inevitable that every business, including public companies, will face highs and lows. It’s how you keep going when it seems low that will help you get to where you want to be going. Avoid looking for quick fixes and, like Ryan Holiday suggests, sometimes ‘the obstacle is the way.’ A successful business takes time. One trick that’s helped AppSumo is to imagine that it’ll take two years to be successful. It helps persevere during darker days.”

Again, I wholeheartedly agree with Noah. I like to refer to that saying, “It took me 10 years to look like an overnight success.” There is no such thing as quick money. Building a successful business starts with a solid foundation. If you rush that, your foundation will be weak and susceptible to all types of issues. Take the time you need to work from the ground up. That’s not to say people do not get lucky. But I believe it’s true what they say: luck happens when hard work meets opportunity.

Noah Kagan is the Chief Email Sumo at SumoMe.com, a collection of free tools to grow your email list. Grab the free spreadsheets he uses for his email marketing. His knowledge is vast as his experience and we can all benefit from the insight. I am going to continue to hit up some of my friends who have influenced me over the years with the hopes that it helps you grow your business and you win big. Hustle ON.

-Courtesy: Entrepreneur.com

How Two Entrepreneurial Jetsetters Stay Grounded at 30,000 Feet

Keep It Down! 5 Business Lessons From a Competitive Eater.

As one of the co-founders of Invisible Sentinel (along with CEO Nick Siciliano), I spend countless hours 30,000 feet in the air with the fasten-seat-belts sign illuminated. It’s a vantage point that certainly gives me a lot of time to think and redefined the meaning of #WheelsUp. And when executives are in the middle of expanding a business, airline travel is not necessarily a bad thing.

Nonetheless when prospective clients range from vineyard enologists in California to dairy farmers in Wisconsin, travel can beome tricky. Schedules can fluctuate at a moment’s notice. But for those dedicated to growing a business, the mileage challenge can inspire more determination.

To be successful, keep the lines of communication open — regardless of the time zone. Here are some tips I’ve picked up along the way:

Give clients the proper attention.

Provide clients the right tools and skills for them be successful. I refuse to “pitch and ditch,” meaning I’m constantly offering customer service throughout the client relationship. Ensuring that an existing client is confident about using a product is a higher priority for me than securing a new business lead.

Make problem solving the core function.

I’ve established a mental process for meeting client expectations. While passion has helped build my company, attaining sustainable growth requires a conscious effort to overdeliver and exceed stakeholders’ expectations.

Nick and I have found a way to balance our leadership and address business challenges. Therefore when we travel tag team across the country, we remain centered by company virtues.

In addition, it’s helpful to have a knowledgeable guru in our corner, someone who can advise us about potential areas of weakness or miscommunication — before they happen. With this structure in place, it makes life on the road easier to digest. Progress isn’t impeded by spontaneous interruptions and this leads to higher levels of productivity.

Grab onto some handlebars.

Cross-country flights require an entrepreneur to use creativity to maximize the time for working. The first steps to good work engagement in the sky involve putting on headphones and establishing a Wi-Fi connection.

Immediately connecting to Salesforce.com lets me stay connected to companywide projects and initiatives: With an online connection, I can manage employees’ activities and keep tabs on my co-founder’s progress. When a new sales lead arises, I’m already plugged in, engaged and vetting the potential for a deal. If action is urgently needed, I’m a mouse click away from pivoting and booking a flight to my next destination.

Without these handlebars to grab onto, I’d be in serious trouble.

The life of a chronic jetsetter isn’t glamorous, but the changing scenery can bring clarity. Nick and I believe there’s no better way to conduct business than with an extended palm and a smile. This approach lets us provide on-site guidance and have greater control over situations.

When Nick and I are both on the ground, we can then enter the same room and have a complete brain dump and frankly consider issues such as these: What are the most promising aspects of the business? Are there technology challenges and hurdles to contend with? How can we improve the company’s growth process? There’s no substitute for transparency.

Then before anyone can say “red eye,” we’re back at opposing gates, but heading in the same direction, as the “now boarding” alert echoes.

-Courtesy: Entrepreneur.com

Seven Mistakes Entrepreneurs Make on LinkedIn

LinkedIn calls itself the “World’s Largest Professional Network” and it’s established itself as one of the three biggest must-play properties on social media.

For anyone looking to expand their influence and network–especially important goals for entrepreneurs and startups–LinkedIn, is one of the key place to see and be seen.

“It not only provides the latest information relevant to your industry news and its players, but allows members to showcase accomplishments and thought-leadership which may otherwise be left in the confines of an office wall or personal blog,” Maya Mikhailov, LinkedIn pro and Executive Vice President of GPShopper told me.

As important as LinkedIn is, most entrepreneurs and startups are making mistakes .

Here are seven common missteps and tips on how to get the most out of your LinkedIn platform.

Not being LinkedIn. Even though the system reports more than 250 million users worldwide, somehow LinkedIn acquired the reputation as being primarily a tool for job seekers. Or a sort of online resume database.

As a result, many entrepreneurs don’t see it as a marketing and networking tool the same way they see Facebook, for example. So they tend to give it less value and some avoid it altogether. That’s a mistake. So, first, if you’re not already Linked In, sign up right away.

Having a blank or sparse profile. Signing up isn’t enough. If you just open a P.O. Box and don’t tell anyone who you are why you have it, you’ll only get junk mail.

LinkedIn the same way. Don’t leave things blank. Since the entire system is designed around connecting people to people, the more you tell people about yourself, the more you’ll get out of it. Don’t just add what you’re doing now. Include what you did last. And with whom. And where you went to school.

If you need help filling out your profile, get help. For an entrepreneur, leaving blanks in your LinkedIn profile is like leaving money on the table.

Not connecting to groups. Even users with robust profiles aren’t taking full advantage ofLinkedIn’s groups. Groups are where experts, insiders and customers are. Groups is where you will find people you want to know and, more importantly, where people you care about can find you.

If you can’t find a group that fits what you do or includes the people you want, start one. Not only will that solve the problem, it’s a great way to demonstrate issue and market leadership.

Ignoring influencers. As part of the maturation process of LinkedIn, its news tool–Pulse–is an easy way to find, follow and connect with leaders that matter to you and your business.

Posting too little. With more than 60 million monthly visitors LinkedIn has a reach equal to or more than many top-tier media outlets. And its by-design linking features mean your content is even more likely to be seen by people who matter.

If you’re producing content related to your business–and you likely should be–even cross-posting that material on LinkedIn is a good idea. And if you have the capacity to develop content for LinkedIn exclusively, even better. You can apply publish long-form content directly and that’s the route to being invited to be a LinkedIn influencer.

Making it personal. If you’re going to post content on LinkedIn, as you should, don’t make it personal.

While this mistake is less common for entrepreneurs, it’s a bad one. LinkedIn is not Facebook. It is a business tool. So cat photos and latte reviews should be eschewed. LinkedIn content should be about your business, your ideas and your market.

Selling. Don’t sell on LinkedIn. That includes sending ‘cold’ pitches to people you don’t or barely know. Just don’t.

“LinkedIn should be used as a platform for thought-leadership, industry news and of course any professional announcements. Constantly providing a hard-sell to your product or services is the fasted way to have your updates hidden by members of your network,” Mikhailov said.

Instead, sell yourself by being a good community member and offering your expert opinion on topics which are important to the people who are important to you.

-Courtesy: Inc.com

5 Things Successful Leaders Do in a Crisis

A lot of people believe that the true leadership capacity of a person is tested during times of crisis. Performance under stress can show how quick witted or level headed a person is, or on the contrary, it can show where their weaknesses lie. As a business owner or as an entrepreneur, it’s important that you always keep your wits about you and stay cool in difficult situations. These are the five things that every successful leader does in times of crisis, and traits to you should always keep in mind when running a business.

Successful Leaders Don’t Let Their Emotions Get In The Way

The most important thing to do during a crisis is to maintain an example for your employees by keeping cool, calm, and collected, which will allow you to think about the curveballs being thrown your way.

Successful Leaders Are Brave

Many people respond to a crisis by being overwhelmed by stress, which turns to fear. It is easy to be afraid when you have a crisis situation in your business, as it is your entire livelihood on the line, but if you remain brave, then your employees will be too, and together a strong team will be able to turn anything around.

Successful Leaders Are Accountable For Their Victories And Their Losses

Good leaders own up to when they make mistakes. After all, we are all human, and someone who is too proud to admit their own mistake is not likely to be someone that others will follow. Taking responsibility for any actions that you have taken that could have contributed to the crisis will be a good way to prompt your employees into working on the situation with you wholeheartedly, instead of just because they have to.

Successful Leaders Don’t Take Failures Personally

By separating your personal feelings from the matter at hand, you are better able to focus on what is happening and take care of it in a manner that is going to be most successful for you, your employees, and the rest of your business. Crises can also bring out power dynamics in the workplace, and a successful leader does not let those office politics get in the way of taking care of business!

Successful Leaders Possess Positive Attitudes From Start To Finish

The end of the crisis is not just when you pull yourself out of the muck that it had put you in. The end of the crisis is when the team has started to recover and is moving on, which might take a bit. Keeping a positive attitude on your face and pushing the excellence of your team will keep morale high, which will put things right back on track in no time at all, and will also earn you the trust and respect of your employees.

-Courtesy: Inc.com

4 Lessons About Entrepreneurs, From the Seat of a Bicycle

Michael Glauser, executive director of the Clark Center for Entrepreneurship at Utah State University and co-founder of the training company My New Enterprise, accompanied by colleagues, students and a film crew, departed Florence, Ore., on a 4,000-mile cycling journey this summer. The team travelled across the country by bike, visiting more than 100 entrepreneurs in 100 cities to chronicle the stories of American small business owners operating in unsung places and learn about what makes them successful.

Glauser’s Kerouac-like journey was inspired by his observations that graduating students face fewer job opportunities. He references a 2013 study by Oxford University which examined 702 occupations and determined 47 percent were at high risk for being replaced by modern technology. Despite the decline in traditional jobs, Glauser sees great opportunity in entrepreneurship and encourages his own students to think about starting their own small businesses. But by promoting entrepreneurship, Glauser isn’t suggesting students strive to be the next Mark Zuckerberg, but to build the type of mainstream businesses that caused America to thrive a hundred years ago – becoming restaurateurs and merchants and opening small business that serve a community need. “There’s been a tremendous amount of research showing self-employment is going to become more and more important for people in America,” says Glauser.

Many of the towns Glauser and his team cycled through are areas where there job availability is low, providing opportunities for those with entrepreneurial spirits to create their own companies and spur job growth in the communities they love. By interviewing entrepreneurs who have been in business for five years or more, Glauser and his team sought to understand what American business owners are doing right. Here’s what they learned:

1. The Silicon Valley model is over-rated.

Glauser says although the Silicon Valley model is often heralded in business schools as the key to success, the “get in, get rich, get out” scenario isn’t the reality for many of America’s entrepreneurs. In fact, in all the interviews Glauser and his team conducted, not once did they hear the words “exit strategy.” Instead, business owners were intent on finding and serving a community need and living the dream of being one’s own boss. One entrepreneur, when asked what his exit strategy was, replied, “I guess my exit strategy is dying.”

2. Entrepreneurs are fueled by passion rather than profit.

Glauser was surprised to find that the entrepreneurs he interviewed did not indicate profit as their primary motivator. Most were fueled instead by passion for doing what they love. “Making a lot of money then getting out was not there at all in any of these stories,” says Glauser, who argues being purpose-driven makes for a stronger, more sustainable business. “Having a purpose is what pulls you through the hard times. It’s what motivates your business,” he says. Many of the entrepreneurs Glauser and his team encountered had as their driving purpose creating jobs in the communities they love, many of which had been hit by job losses and rely on small businesses to keep the town afloat.

3. Entrepreneurs thrive on community support.

The biggest advantage small businesses operating in a small town have is community. Glauser witnessed communities rallying around small businesses to help them succeed by becoming loyal customers of their products and promoting local businesses who provide much-needed jobs to community members. “Many of these entrepreneurs are using the business as a tool to make a contribution in the community,” says Glauser. The community then returns the support, making for a stronger, more sustainable business.

4. Entrepreneurs are creating more with less.

“Entrepreneurs have become masters at using resources other than money,” says Glauser. He recalls the story of Amy Gardiner, owner of the accessories company Scarpa. When Gardiner was struggling to come up with the cash to purchase her next season’s inventory, she revved up her creative engine and asked her customers to open a credit line with the store in exchange for a discount on all of their purchases. This strategy resulted in raising $70,000 for her inventory. Stories such as Gardiner’s were common among many of the entrepreneurs Glauser and his team interviewed and highlighted the many ways entrepreneurs are creating more with less resources than ever.

-Courtesy: Entrepreneur.com

5 Steps to Take to Become an Entrepreneur

Everybody knows that building a business is a very difficult process. There are a lot of things that you need to take into account personally before you become an entrepreneur, and many more external factors that you have to work through to make your dream a reality. If you are looking for a handy, streamlined process, however, look no further: these are the five steps that you absolutely must take to become an entrepreneur.

Pay Attention To The Structure Of Your Business

Most people sign an LLC document because it appears to be the simplest structure for a business to follow, but there are different business structures for a reason. Do a little digging to find out which suits your vision, because you cannot always change your organizational structure once you are on your way.

Know What You Will Owe For Taxes

Your business will have all sorts of strings attached, including state, federal, and local taxes on the property, your income, and payroll if you have employees. It’s your responsibility to be aware of everything that you have to pay for to avoid penalties like fees and audits from the IRS.

Have A Firm Grasp On How You’re Going To Be Keeping Your Books

This is going to go hand in hand with step number two, and will keep you on track to make profit and avoid tax trouble for the entire life of your business. When doing this, take into consideration whether you are going to use technology to track your books or paper records or both, and which programs you are going to commit to. You do not have to pick the most expensive program, but you should opt for the program or programs that work best for you.

Strategize On Where Your Funding Will Come From

Whether you are crowdfunding or seeking venture capital, knowing where your money will be coming from and when to start asking for it is one of the most important parts of launching your business. After all, nothing can happen with your dreams unless you have a means to make them true.

Research Common Mistakes In Your Field And Avoid Them

This step is the most important part of the process, since this is where you are going to set the course for your business as it operates. Step number five does not end when you open your doors, however, as the market always changes, and follies can as well. In order for this step to be implemented successfully, you have to commit to ongoing research and work on what others’ mistakes are and constantly be taking steps to avoid them yourself.

You definitely have to have your ducks in a row to be able to open your own business, but it certainly is doable; just like planning anything else, you have to think about organization, finances, and what not to do–looking into these three groups is going to be your biggest key for success!

-Courtesy: Inc.com
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