A business mantra that you may have heard of is “failing faster”. This can be interpreted in many ways and it’s often misunderstood by students and budding entrepreneurs who are trying to get their big break in the world of business.
For some, failing faster means to quickly cut their losses and get out of a business while it’s sinking. This is a good interpretation of the saying, but it’s not the full story. Yes, it’s important to get out of a business if it has stopped growing before more of your time, effort and money are invested, but failing faster holds a deeper meaning and it’s even more important than ever for new entrepreneurs to grasp the concepts behind it.
What is failing faster?
Picture it this way; what is the number one source of knowledge that people rely on to grow themselves as well as their business? Tech-savvy people will say the internet, and they would be partially correct. The internet is indeed a database of knowledge that collectively contains far more information than any library in the world, and there are thousands of articles, journals and case studies to look at for inspiration and help. Older business owners are likely to say from other people. Industry veterans, figureheads and mentors are all perfectly good examples of good sources of information and guidance. Yet, there’s one thing that remains certain; all of these sources are derived from one simple method of acquiring knowledge: experience.
This is why failing faster has the most potential for building up your knowledge. The more things you expose yourself to, the more likely you’ll be able to learn from your own experiences and thus, build a better brand and develop yourself as an entrepreneur. It’s important to note that experience alone won’t turn you into a successful business owner, but it plays a major role in applying whatever you have learnt in a real-world scenario.
How do you fail faster the right way?
There are a number of different ways to fail faster without harming your own chances of success. The first would be rapid manufacturing. Ideas don’t always work out, and some companies can spend months or years working on a project that is ultimately scrapped because the fundamental idea was flawed. This is a huge waste of time and resources, which is why rapid prototyping of a product is needed to get it into the hands of consumers to gather feedback and suggestions.
The goal isn’t to get it right on the first try, but to have a product that can be talked about and tested before you invest more money and resources. Imagine if you spent the entire evening baking a large and extravagant cake, only to realise that you used the wrong type of flour in the end and created something inedible. It would’ve been wise to test it first by using fewer ingredients and tasting it before you decided to invest more money and time into it.
The same concept applies to business. If you want to have a better final product, then you need to fail faster and get your ideas out there in a timely manner so that you can grow them steadily instead of trying to surprise the industry and consumers with something.
Building Your Personal Brand Through Your Business
For every young entrepreneur, there is an element of prestige with business ownership that can be very attractive. Your career and your ambitions define you. You might have a great brand and a great product that you’re profiting from. But is it you or your product that has the most interesting story to tell? Chances are, as a young up-and-coming entrepreneur, you are your brand, and you’re the one that customers are most interested in.
Your business and product brand are recognisable, and your name goes with them both. This is why you should be actively marketing you as much as your products or services. Your business can help build your personal brand and vice versa. It’s important to stay connected with those that are interested in your entrepreneurial activities. After all, you’re not likely to stick with this one business forever without exploring more opportunities in the future.
So how can you push your name as a brand? Start with your social media. Entrepreneurs like Issa Asad have used social media to build their profile or persona. With extensive knowledge of this type of marketing, it’s worth reading as many posts as you can about how to refine your own techniques. What is your area of specialism? Make sure that able to write regularly on the topic, becoming a voice of authority.
Your voice of authority natural increases your share of voice for your business interests as well. This can, in turn, boost your customer base and share of the market. Customers will get to know you as an authoritative voice. This increases the trust in your brand and products. Of course, it also makes you more accountable for it too! Blog posts alone won’t take you far, though. You need a full marketing strategy.
Look to authoring white papers, and network with the journalists and writers in your industry. Offer to help them out with upcoming stories. Provide quotes quickly whenever asked. Look to other media to talk about trending topics relevant to your specialism. Podcasts, YouTube videos, and guest posting can all help to increase the reach of your name and your brand. You might even publish an eBook.
Of course, meeting your customers and your peers is essential to building a brand. You don’t need gimmicks like merchandise, but it’s been proven to be helpful for some! Attend conferences, exhibitions, seminars and talks. Meet and greet whenever possible. You can structure some question time as well so that customers can really get to know you.
Charisma, charm, and personality are essential if you want to build a personal brand. Don’t forget – your character might be just your public persona. Sometimes it’s good to have that distance. Trolls can be quite hurtful if you take their comments personally. But if it’s your public profile that’s getting slammed, you can rest assured it’s not personal.
Building up a brand for yourself takes as much time, effort and precision as any other marketing strategy. But there are plenty of benefits of doing this for the young entrepreneur with potential.
You Can Be A Solo Entrepreneur And Still Have a Support Network
There’s a myth that is widely circulated in the business world. It’s the one about the entrepreneur, the one that says he or she did it all on their own, that they were a guru (/genius) that made their company a success through their own sheer will and talent. The story falls apart when you dig into the real stories of these entrepreneurs, for one good reason: no one can build a business on their own, even if they’re the only employee. The good news is that you’ll be better served if you embrace the support options available to you.
Friends and Family
Your friends and family will be an invaluable resource on your quest to make it to the top. There’ll offer support in a number of ways. They’ll offer the encouragement you’ll badly need at times (nobody gets to the top without getting a few bruises); they’ll be able to provide guidance and advice on decisions you’re having difficulty making; and they’ll be on hand to help out with all the small, menial tasks that go into running a business.
Bring in Outside Help
You don’t know everything. You can be an expert in 70% of the tasks that need to be taken care of, but you’ll never be able to do everything all on your own. You won’t necessarily have to hire an employee (though don’t underestimate how beneficial this can be), but you will need to bring in outside help in some form. Your best option will be to outsource the technical, expert stuff to the professionals. Some things are too important to be left to people who can’t-do it to the highest standard (i.e., you).
There won’t be too many first-time entrepreneurs who have built a company all on their own, using their own money. And really, even if you could, it’s probably not the best idea to sink all your cash into a new enterprise and leave yourself short of money in other areas of your life. You can look for investors, though be aware that you’ll be losing some control of your company if you down this route. Alternatively, click here for more info about small business loans. Just as with most other details relating to your company, the financial health of your business is one thing you don’t want resting solely on your savings.
We’re in the golden age of startups, and as such there are plenty of other people out there who are in precisely the same boat that you’re in. While some of these will, on paper at least, be your “competitors,” you’re all in the great game, Lean on each other, give each other support. Everyone wins!
It’s Not a Compromise; It’s a Necessity
In the end, your company will be much healthier if it’s not just you calling the shots. Bringing others into the fold will allow you to see the bigger picture, and let your company grow in new, exciting ways, not just the robust direction you have for the company.
New Approaches to Entrepreneurship Financing
Traditional sources of financing business such as bank loans pose a challenge to small and medium businesses. In particular, innovative, new, and fast growing enterprises with higher risk profiles can’t get the funds they need from conventional sources. The same is the case for firms in transition like those in the process of changing ownership or control.
Every business needs funding at different stages such as when starting, embarking on a new project, during expansion or when finding its footing following losses. External financing in the form of just right loans is the most suitable means of achieving these objectives. In fact, external financing is essential to start, meet operating expenses such as payroll and inventory, and to grow the business.
Challenges of obtaining a bank loan for enterprises
Financing is a major hurdle facing most enterprises. Yet, many entrepreneurs are intimidated by the prospect of obtaining funds from the traditional sources, especially the banks. This is because these institutions set high lending standards which few enterprises can meet.
The situation is such that it is difficult for small businesses to find, request for, and obtain financing. Most financial experts think that this problem stems from the fact that most enterprises don’t take time to prepare for the process. They say that the issues around bank loans can be sorted out through due diligence.
This means that entrepreneurs looking to obtain external financing must have all the necessary documents needed by the lenders. This may work for established business. However, the problem remains for innovative, newer, and fast growing enterprises with higher risk profiles.
Alternative sources of Entrepreneurship Financing
To overcome the challenge of obtaining financing from conventional sources, many entrepreneurs are exploring new approaches to funding. This means that the most successful entrepreneurs are the ones who think outside the box. They think creatively about what they have to offer and also how to secure funding.
They know relationships are the key to securing funding, so the develop quality networks. Their approach is to sell themselves, more than what they have to offer, to secure all alternative sources of financing. Also, they remain open minded and never rule out any approach.
Some of the top new approaches include-
The most successful entrepreneurs use their own resources to start the business. They save money over time and grow a fund they can use to start the venture. They also know that no investor will finance a deal where the entrepreneur has no financial stake in it. Personal financing is necessary to get the idea off the ground.
Personal credit lines
Credit cards come to the rescue of many small businesses. They are easy to get because they don’t need a lot of credit history. In fact, there are many startups that have used this approach. The main benefit is that the entrepreneur retains complete control and ownership while meeting the minimum payments.
The Investment Retirement Account monies and 401k’s are among the most accessible alternative financing sources for new businesses today. An entrepreneur can easily find many people willing to loan them money from their funds for the right terms. However, the entrepreneur must sell themselves and their idea to the lenders.
There are private lenders and non-profit organizations that offer small business loans. These can be useful to entrepreneurs who can’t qualify for bank loans. Also, they are suitable for micro business.
Online lenders are useful for entrepreneurs who lack collateral, need financing quickly and lack a track record.
The internet has revolutionized the way many things are done including business funding. Now entrepreneurs can find a group of likeminded people who can back their businesses through small contributions. This approach is evolving beyond non-profits and will soon include small equity investments.
Peer to peer financing
In this approach, a group of peers comes together to help each other financially. This approach can be used for a wide variety of financial needs. Entrepreneurs can use it to find successful peers willing to finance them.
In this approach, the entrepreneur talks the manufacturers and suppliers of goods and services into deferring their payments until the products are sold. This can lead to an extension of payment terms to a duration of months or longer. However, this depends on the entrepreneur’s creditworthiness and payment of additional fees.
Purchase order financing
Purchase order financing firms enable new businesses to overcome scaling problems. Most startups are unable to accept large orders because of lack of funds to make and deliver the products. Purchase order financing firms provide the needed amounts of cash directly to the suppliers. This enables the deal to be closed, and profit to accrue to the new business.
This approach is similar to purchase order financing. The difference is that the funds are provided to cover unpaid balances not yet due or received from clients. This approach is useful for high volume new business beginning to scale up. It provides the funds on the sales immediately instead of waiting for payment which can stretch from 30 -60 days or longer.
Family and friends
Many successful entrepreneurs tap into this resource. Usually, the commitments are positioned in writing as bridge loans or promissory notes. These can be converted to equity at a rate decided by other investors later on.
Every business needs funding at various stages such as when starting, embarking on a new project, during expansion or when finding its footing following losses. External financing in the form of loans is the most suitable means of achieving these objectives.
Yet, traditional lending institutions have set high lending standards which few enterprises can meet. To overcome this challenge of obtaining financing from conventional sources, many entrepreneurs are exploring new approaches to funding.
They think creatively about what they have to offer and also how to secure funding. Their approach is to sell themselves, more than what they have to offer, to secure all alternative sources of financing. Also, they remain open minded and never rule out any approach.
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