How to design an absolutely blissful journey with ethics for success in the world of entrepreneurs
Entrepreneurship is a word that has become a fad. Everyone you meet these days is an entrepreneur. Every day you read the news, there are scores of entrepreneurial ventures that have acquired millions of dollars of funding and in just a span of two to three years have entered into billion dollar evaluations.
Of course, in the course of next two to three years to follow, as we keep reading about these ventures, less than 35% of them seem to actually survive.
Sadly, these days, most of the businesses that made headlines for acquiring the biggest or top notch funding are in the news for being shut down or in the verge of wrapping things up or at the most, struggling to meet their stakeholders expectations.
Myself, being an entrepreneur of a start-up digital agency, Techdivine Creative Services, which is now 6.5 years old and that too of a sole proprietorship, the pressures were always much higher and the stakes, well, off the charts! Why? For me to stay alive, it’s always been core to, well, do “business”. If there are no real paying customers, I can’t sustain as a brand or a professional.
The blog post shared below is a brief look into the real world of business from the eyes of an individual today, where not everything is about billion dollar funding or not everything is peachy every day. Perseverance is the key!
At the same time, I have also shared some powerful guides that have helped me grow, sustain and or survive during difficult times.
Over the years, I have been approached by two well funded brand names in our industry for funding my business. The offers were very intriguing both the times, but after a couple of meetings, it was clear for me that as an individual or even a professional, I could never tie up with either of them. For me, as an entrepreneur, three things are core before I do business with anyone, failing even one of which I can never get into a contract with anyone:
- TRUST: I should be able to trust that individual or business or brand with any and all contractual guidelines and agreements. Why? Because, my bandwidth as a sole proprietor is restricted by my decisions to take a particular risk or business offer based on my current scenario at that point of time. So the hours and resources I can build or design or provide has it’s limitations. Since the focus from my end is always to deliver power packed result oriented goals, it’s core for me to be able to trust that business entity to ensure that my bandwidth is free to focus on the work aspect of this amazing journey ahead. If you don’t love what you do, there is really no point in doing it.
- Business: As I mentioned earlier, being a sole proprietor and being a part of a family where my day to day responsibility extends beyond just taking care of my family financially and as the only source of income, the routine is no doubt always daunting, especially in today’s world where most of the households have two or even three bread winners (which diminishes the term and phrase, since they have more than one person doing the wonderful task). But, it’s true for me, because, at the end of the day, I am just another average human being and as an individual, there is always a fear of the unknown. “What happens if” is the biggest fear and question prior to making any decision. This comes with the flaws and limitations of being a sole proprietor because you would not have anyone else with the same stakes as you in the business to take onus or responsibilities. So, it becomes extremely important for me as a professional, or as an entrepreneur, or as an individual to be able to do and transact ‘business’ if my time is involved in the process. As in no room for too many repeated freebies from my end. This aspect and or nature of mine is sometimes seen or imagined by individuals with whom I engage, as ‘me being arrogant’, but honestly, it’s not. I am just fighting to sustain and survive while doing it alone, that’s all. So in all honestly, this has nothing to do with the growth of a business, but rather fear of venturing into the ocean’s abyss at night with no gear and at the same time hoping to find that treasure of riches (which can be successfully delivering tasks at hand) while focusing on the task at hand and ensuring you have enough oxygen to stay alive, keep surviving, while fighting off the sharks and yes, to find the sunken treasure ship! Too dramatic, well, that’s ok, I just felt like writing it!
- Ethics: For me the first and foremost focus is ethics. So much so that, even I, get on my own nerves at times. But if there is anything that I have learnt over the years from some of the biggest names in business and entrepreneurship, it is to, never compromise on ethics. Money, fame and fortune will get you a mansion, whereas ethics will give you peace of mind and energy filled with joy to do what you love doing no matter what.
The first thing I learnt as an entrepreneur is to “Unlearn”.
Many of the things that seem to work in the brilliantly beautiful “books taught to us in many of the management schools and colleges” are not even remotely close to practicality when it comes to the real world. Very few management programs and or schools take the initiative to introduce the ‘real industry’ scenarios into their course curriculum.
Of course, during the course of time, there were many management books, marketing strategies written by iconic legends with decades of experience and yes, biographies of some of the most inspiring business tycoons and highly inspiring human beings that helped me chart a plan to stay alive, make a name, build a brand and most important of all, allowed me to “make the best of what’s available”.
Which in today’s fancy term is called growth hacking.
So here are some powerful guides on “How to design an absolutely blissful journey with ethics for success in the world of entrepreneurs” :-
1) Learn from the past:
“You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something – your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life ~ Steve Jobs“
2) Never compromise on Ethics: Develop a clear and ethical framework to ensure that you as an entrepreneur hold the right tools that will not only allow you to navigate through the abyss, but also come back up to the surface with your head held high. Everything is fine when it comes to doing business, as long as it’s ethical. Things to focus while building a policy in your organization that focuses purely on ethics:
- Your customers are your first and only priority: Do everything possible to deliver the best services that your organization ‘should’ and not ‘could’ offer to help them be more successful. The faster your clients grow, quicker you will grow too. The greatest asset for any business is a happy customer.
- Never under any circumstances compromise on your customers or their customers data and information. This is especially true when you work with brands who are competitors. Sometimes a particular brand might request data or metrics of the other. Under no circumstances should you encourage that behavior. Irrespective of the size of business a brand gives you, every data that belongs to a customer should be of the same high value to you as a business.
- Never swindle: Never deceive your business prospects, try to cut down or cheat them of services or your employees or those helping you to build a network. For that matter as a brand never even charlatan as a professional simply to gain business. Accept what you know and focus on building that as a business for your customers.
- When no one is looking: There is a very interesting study done once at a cafeteria of a certain place of business. It seems they were keeping a jar in the cafeteria where people had to put money at the end of their meals. No one was asked to pay at the counter or at the start of the meal. The idea was to assume that everyone is trustworthy and will pay for what they ate. Over a period of time, it was found that there were lot of people who were not paying since no one would actually find out. So they added an image, an actual picture of a person’s eyes ‘watching’ on the face of the jar. within a span of few days, it seems most of the people were automatically now paying for whatever they ate. This study on Psychology was about “when people are watching” what and how does one behave. In business, always function with a thought that someone is watching so ensure that at all times, you end up doing the right thing.
3) Empower Digital: Digital media has empowered entrepreneurs to do business from wherever they are. This helps you cut down your costs and at the same time reach out to your enquiries, prospects, business partners without loss of time and with all the right set of tools to get the tasks done. Big Data has never looked more beautiful before. I know, that sounds weird but I love numbers. They have so much clarity!
With the constant shift in the metrics paradigm which is more often than not seen as a burden as it’s constantly referred to as the era of ‘information overload’; at such a time, enabling the right set of sentiment analysis tools, BigData metrics to measure information that is relevant to your business and customers and at the same time even help you with predictive analysis for customer behavior etc can do wonders for your business.
Due to the rise of social media and digital marketing, customers today literally know more about the brand than the brand themselves. So it’s only fair to take time out, use the same digital tools to understand your customers better and do business that’s not just for that moment, but for a lifetime.
4) At all times TRUST the human heart and mind: Digital is here to help, no doubt about that. But, too much of dependency on digital can at times be risky too. So ensure that from time to time, you focus and trust the human mind, it’s experiences and know-how. This would help you avert any and all risks to a great extent of making an assumption that digital can guarantee perfect predictions and that it is the only answer to a sustainable future. Nothing can or should replace the combination of human heart, intelligence and experience.
5) If you don’t invest in your brand, no one else will:From time to time ensure that you invest in resources to upgrade your skills, know-how and the skills of your employees. Even doctor’s are forced to keep up with the latest in medicine and technology with a focus towards delivering better quality of health and service to their patients. So why not with your customers too? Ensure to invest in constant and continuous learning from the best in the industry to make sure you deliver the best for your customers at all times.
6) Network and or Tie-up: There are too many organization’s out there which claim to be the best source of networking with business and brands. Some of them even have big names associated with them. Meet them, take a calculative risk, but make sure they are not scams, because off late there are too many of them too. Networking can be a great way to do business. But while doing so, ensure that your “business goals” are not gone for a toss and your policies are in no way compromised to help you sustain and grow as a business. Networking with the wrong group can break you whereas with the right people can make you a powerhouse of business.
7) World of self promotion: We are now in the era of greatest form of self-promotion and especially with the advent of digital space, everyone who is literally anyone seems to be promoting themselves to be the best across their industries.
Which is my case too, for I too ensure to proudly represent my own brand as the Best Digital Marketing Professional in India awardee whenever I share my posts online along with other accolades and recognition’s as a marketing or management professional or entrepreneur.
When You are out there “self-promoting”, now there are two sides and ways to do it. One, to ensure that I do not annoy my friends and or relatives with this professional claim all the time, I have maintained two distinct or separate profiles online. One which is personal, in which I am rarely active and the other which is via blogs, professional brand pages, professional website links etc where I share about my latest events, workshops and courses on digital marketing and social media, client case studies, milestones, new services from our digital agency etc. as these sites are for me to share these accolades and latest news updates. But, at the same time, I ensure that my ratio to self-promotion and valuable content for my readers, customers and prospects is at least 1:3 ((1)Self-promotions: (3)Value to end readers, customers and prospects). I constantly create presentations, resourceful downloads of case studies, power packed guides on digital marketing, branding, marketing research management, social media, blogging, content marketing, entrepreneurship and also share a time when I am online and my peers or users online can reach me for queries and or support in real-time etc. to ensure that at all times, I keep delivering more and more value-add each day.
As an entrepreneur with boost-strapping and growth hacking as your core ideals and points of survival, ensure to balance your self-promotions well.
Don’t be a brand or a professional who only reaches out or tags others when you want them to promote your services. The world is slowly getting more and more translucent as in, with data and metrics all around, things are very transparent. So make sure who you portray yourself to be and who you really are, are the same individuals.
8) Customer Acquisition cost, Customer Lifetime value: Two very powerful aspects and terms of your business, which you need to be very clear about if you are a growth hacker. Every cost that you spend to acquire a customer needs to be accounted for and at the same time, what a customer is worth to you and your brand also needs to be vividly and precisely available with you as an entrepreneur. These two costs will enable you to understand:
- What are the different channels that you can use to promote your business
- Which are the best channels where your customers become your brand ambassadors online
- What costs are fixed across these two aspects and what revenue streams are constant will enable you to do a lot more and that too with much better results.
- They will help you work out the best possible cost that you can “afford” to offer in terms of value pricing for customers who might not be having big budgets but would be great for your business in the long run and wonderful business relations.
9) Bandwidth: I have discussed in detail about this earlier too, as an entrepreneur, to have a smooth and absolutely blissful journey in the world of entrepreneurship, it is extremely important to understand your bandwidth. No, I am not talking about server space or website server settings or features. Every customer is unique in their own way and have certain way of functioning. In a desperation to tie-up with people, or brands or organization’s for business, do not agree to do business with brands for whom you need to be available all the time. Work with clients who understand and with whom you can work on a common ground based on trust, mutual respect and growth.
10) Employees or consultants: As a business you might hire employees or consultants depending on your business needs. Always ensure to treat them with respect. Calling them up all the time, sending them emails at the eleventh hour, always making the work under pressure can be a sign of poor management. This will neither deliver good results for your clients nor help you grow.
11) New Industry Verticals: Always understand what your customers are looking out for. Do not push your services because you have them to offer. Rather customize to suit their budget, requirements and needs. At the same time, constantly focus on newer verticals or for that matter, removing services from your lists that are no longer beneficial to you or your customers. Adding new industry based verticals helps you sustain during difficult times and at the same time ensures you are at the top of your game by developing solutions that your prospects need!
12) Time: Timing is everything when it comes to business. And I mean this in every way possible. Entrepreneurship or business is unpredictable. Those whose ego’s have not allowed them to accept this have either fallen straight on their faces or have given up eventually before having to accept the same. Anything can happen and things can turn from good to great or bad to worse in the blink of an eye. Time is your greatest strength and your ally in the long run. Because, if there is anything that business can teach you for sure, it is that, “anything is possible”. Be ready, be prepared, accept and either rejoice or work towards making things better.
13) Learn and Read: Nothing beats hard work and having the right information at the right time. Constantly read business and management articles, books, magazines and stay updated with the latest news, industry trends and that will not only add value to your business but also empower you during discussions and as a professional.
14) Freebies and Premiums: There are lots of tools online that are available for free that you can use for your business. Try them out and see if they work and do justice to your growing needs as an entrepreneur or growth hacker. If yes, you might find value in exploring their paid versions too, if you feel it will add to your success and reduce your overall costs and time to manage them directly from your end.
There are so many more things that you can to make your work a bliss in your entrepreneurship journey.
I hope these guides were useful and you found it insightful.
Please do share your comments and views. Would love to hear your feedback and suggestions.
Have an amazing day ahead.
Do share your comments and or views based on your experiences too. Would love to hear from you.