When an entrepreneur brings on a business advisor, they often do so with the intention of gaining sound insight and advice—finding that “second opinion” that can help steer their business in the right direction. But, many times, an advisor turns into something more: a true mentor who can offer guidance, support, motivation and understanding when times get tough, as well as the advice needed to help get you back on your feet.
When thinking about the advice from their own business advisors, the members of Young Entrepreneur Council have a few key tips that come to mind. Below, each member shares one piece of sage wisdom their business advisor gave them, and why they consider it to be one of the best pieces of advice they’ve ever received.
Young Entrepreneur Council members discuss the best business advice they've heard.
1. Create A Business Plan
As a bootstrapped entrepreneur in the digital space, I thought this was the most ridiculous advice. The industry is unpredictable and changes at unfathomable speeds. I listened and did it anyway (after being an entrepreneur for eight-plus years already) and the discoveries were mind-blowing. Going through the process of building a business plan and making projections helped me envision what the company could grow to. Once you have this mapped out, you start to picture what it would take to grow it five, 10 or 30 times. This helps you focus on the right things and fast-tracks your progress significantly. I realized that the No. 1 driver of success for our media company was content output, which led to systemization and faster hiring instead of us tinkering with ads or monetization. - Karl Kangur, Above House
2. Hustle And Network In Order To Succeed
You won't succeed unless you hustle. You may be the smartest person in the room, with the best ideas and work ethic, but if you don't hustle, you won't grow. Prior to this, I believed that working hard was enough to thrive. However, my mentor helped me see that I had to find areas that were challenging for me and work on breaking through those limitations. As an introvert, I find it hard to reach out to people and pitch my product or ask for help. I learned through my advisor that hustling, networking and positioning myself in front of others could only lead to growth and success. -Blair Thomas, eMerchantBroker
3. Picture Your Business Like A Workhorse
Although we like to think of businesses as our "babies," the truth is, our businesses are meant to provide for us (not the other way around). Picturing your business more like a workhorse or mule can shift your mindset and transform how you manage the business. You should not be constantly paying into the business to make ends meet or be left starving after expenses. Lack of proper planning or market research often leads to owners launching without adequate knowledge of the time, effort and funds needed to make the business successful. Your business needs to work for you, but you need to put in the pre-work to ensure you're creating (and protecting) a profitable business for the long term. - Lauren Marsicano, Marsicano + Leyva PLLC
4. Listen To What Your Customers Need
One of the best pieces of advice I got early on is to listen to your customers. Making your product stand out in a market that doesn't need it is like swimming against the current: If you do it, your brand will inevitably struggle to grow. Don't try to change your customers' idea of what they need. Instead, listen to them and create offerings that truly solve their problems. - Samuel Thimothy, OneIMS
5. Focus On A Niche Market
We are a professional services firm, and before we found our niche, we were offering a wide variety of services, similar to our competitors. The advice I received was to: 1. Print the list of all your clients that you’ve served in the past year. Review the list and mark those clients that you've enjoyed working with. 2. Analyze what is common between these clients and their needs. What makes that commonality different from the market at large? 3. Design a service package that addresses the unique needs of these clients. Eliminate all other services. Focus on a very narrow segment of clients whom you love serving. Adjust your marketing and service delivery standards to meet their demands and charge premium fees for your services. This strategy did miracles for our organization. - Feruza Djamalova, Sobirovs Law Firm
6. Talk To Those Who Have Done It
Reach out and talk to people who have already accomplished or done that which you are trying to do! I can't tell you how many entrepreneurs I've seen attempt to solve a challenging problem or navigate a difficult situation either by toiling away in silence, grinding it out night after night or by reading every business book they can, not appreciating that many are nothing more than an extended sales pitch. You'll save yourself an unbelievable amount of time, heartache and money by simply picking up the phone. Don't assume successful people are too busy to take your call. Nothing has had a bigger impact on my business life than following this simple piece of advice. - Ben Landers, Blue Corona
7. Ask How You Can Help
Instead of focusing on what you need, get into the habit of asking, “How can I help you?” By asking others how you can help them, you will show that you genuinely care about them and would like to add value to their lives. In return, most people will want to look for ways they can help you. You will be amazed by how much you help yourself by asking others how you can help them first. - Doug Bend, Bend Law Group, PC
8. Think Long Term
The best piece of advice I ever received from one of my business advisors was to always be thinking long term. When you're busy running a business, it's easy to get lost in the day-to-day grind and forget the bigger picture. Therefore, it's essential to always pause and take a step back to think about where your business will be in the future if you choose option A or B. This advice has helped me focus my decision-making, leading to many benefits for my business in the long run—not just in the short term. By always thinking long term, my business has continually evolved and grown, making it an essential element of my success. - Richard Fong, Assured Standard
9. Ditch Perfectionism
“Ditch perfectionism” is the best piece of advice I’ve received, and it has had a great impact not only on my business, but also on my personal life. Perfectionists are slow-paced when it comes to checking tasks off their to-do lists. As a result, things rarely get past the drawing board. Work keeps piling up and you have to deal with higher stress levels. This not only hinders your professional growth, but it also disrupts your work-life balance. The solution? You have to keep the needle moving. This is what that advice taught me, and I haven't stopped since. - Jared Atchison, WPForms
10. Invest In Yourself
One of the best pieces of advice I ever received from a business advisor was to always invest in myself. This meant continuing my education and learning new things in order to stay ahead of the competition. Not only did this advice help me professionally, but it also helped me grow as a person. Learn. Share. Grow. - Candice Georgiadis, Digital Day
Today, it’s easier than ever to start a business without a physical location. In fact, there are many business models that can be run completely online. Whether you’re looking to save costs or travel the world while running your own career, here are some top online business ideas to consider.
The Online Business Market in 2022More and more industries are shifting to fully online models. And consumers are increasingly open to purchasing both products and services online. From eCommerce businesses to online service providers, there are plenty of opportunities to turn a major profit with just an internet connection.
Why You Should Consider Starting an Internet Business?
If you’re thinking of launching a great online business idea, here are some benefits you may achieve:
Best Online Business Ideas
There’s no shortage of small online business ideas that can be run completely on the internet. If you’re looking for ideas for online businesses, check out the extensive list below.
1. Open an Online Store
Online stores can sell physical or digital products. With the former, you’ll also need to purchase inventory or supplies and have a place to store them. However, you may use options like fulfillment or dropshipping services to handle the logistics for you. These services charge fees; so you’ll need to factor that into your startup costs.
2. Launch Your Own Website
Websites can earn money based on ads, sponsored content, or services. Think about a particular audience you can serve and gear your site and marketing toward them.
3. Start a Consulting Business
Consultants can work with clients virtually to help with anything from business development to healthy living. Consultants generally provide individual guidance but allow their clients to handle the actual work themselves.
4. Develop Online Courses
Think about what you can teach to people and develop a ready-made course they can purchase and take at their own pace. There are also course marketplace sites you can use to simplify the process in exchange for a cut of your earnings.
5. Specialize in Search Engine Optimization
Help other businesses improve their website with keywords and other features to increase traffic. These business owners often have some web development experience, or you may simply understand search engines and keep up with relevant industry trends.
6. Conduct Market Research
Work with other businesses in your state or around the world, providing surveys and other research tools to help them learn about their customers.
7. Start a YouTube Channel
YouTube offers an ad-sharing program for creators with large followings, so you earn automatic income-based on video views. Some content creators also earn revenue through sponsored content, promotional partnership, or their own merch lines.
8. Try Social Media Marketing
Provide social media content creation and management for other businesses, marketing yourself on your own website and channels. You may offer general content planning and posting services, or specialize in just one platform like Facebook or TikTok.
10. Offer Virtual Assistant Services
VAs can help with inbox management, scheduling, and data entry. Market your services or search job boards to find these perfect clients. This online business idea is perfect for beginners, because it comes with little to no startup costs, and you don’t need any official skills or training to get started.
11. Become an Affiliate Marketer
Affiliate marketing involves posting links on your website or content and getting paid when someone purchases something through them. This can be a business model on its own. Or you can use this as an additional revenue stream for a blog or social media business.
12. Start an Online Membership
Create a community online by starting a membership site. Your readers or followers can then pay a monthly fee to join and access your content or participate in your community features.
13. Offer Virtual Tutoring Services
Work with clients one-on-one using video chat platforms, email, or texting apps to connect. Some tutors help with specific subjects, while others offer more general support or test prep assistance.
14. Sign Up for Online Marketplaces
You can sell products without creating your own eCommerce store; just sign up for marketplace sites like eBay or Amazon and they’ll take a cut of your earnings.
15. Self-Publish eBooks
If you’re interested in writing a book, self-publishing allows you to do it all on your own. You can even create ebooks, so readers can download your content instead of getting a physical copy.
16. Help Businesses with Digital Marketing
If you have marketing expertise, help other companies promote their business venture online. You may offer an array of services, or focus on one area like content marketing or Pinterest.
17. Become a Web Developer
Lots of other businesses outsource their web design and development, so offer these services virtually.
18. Become a Social Media Influencer
Build a dedicated social media following. Then offer sponsored content and partnerships with relevant brands.
19. Offer Graphic Design Services
Help other businesses create logos and other graphic elements while working remotely.
20. Translate Online Content
If you speak more than one language, offer translation services for online content or documents.
21. Start a Blog
Bloggers can earn income through sidebar ads, sponsored content, or paywalls. Find a niche you can serve with valuable content and then promote your blog on relevant online communities and social media accounts.
22. Become a Freelance Writer
Alternatively, offer writing services for other blogs or online publications on a contract basis. Sign up for job sites where you can connect with website owners or promote your services on your own site or social media platforms.
23. Sell Stock Photos
Photographers, take photos and upload them to stock photo sites, where others can download them for a fee or membership.
24. Develop Mobile Apps
If you’re interested in a mobile business niche, develop your own mobile apps and sell them in app stores. Or develop mobile apps for other companies in exchange for a sizable fee.
25. Provide Virtual Fitness Training
For fitness enthusiasts interested in starting an online business, offer personal training services using video chat platforms.
26. Create and Sell Handmade Goods
If you specialize in a craft like knitting or sewing, start your own eCommerce business using a platform like Etsy.
27. Design T-Shirts to Print on Demand
You can also start your own business using print-on-demand services like Redbubble or Society6. You upload your own designs and they print them on products like t-shirts and mugs.
28. Buy and Sell Domains
Other entrepreneurs looking to start a business online need to first purchase a domain to set up their own business website or e commerce site. Purchase popular options and then create your own site to sell them at a profit.
29. Specialize in Cybersecurity
Today’s small business owners need to be wary of cybersecurity issues. If you’re well versed in this subject, offer consulting services or managed IT support for vulnerable small business owners.
30. Create Online Ads
Graphic designers or those with advertising experience can help other small businesses create their own advertising campaigns online. You may specialize in PPC ads, mobile ads, or visual content.
What Is the Most Profitable Online Business Idea?
If you’re interested in starting your own online business, you may be wondering, ‘what’s the most profitable business option?’ The answer varies based on your circumstances. However, scalable ideas like online course creation or social media influencing tend to be the most profitable over time.
What Are the Most Successful Small Online Businesses?
The most successful online business ideas vary depending on your goals and expertise. However, the following options tend to be relevant in a variety of niches and able to scale over time:
What Online Business Is Easiest to Start?
If you’re looking to start an online business quickly, think of service-based businesses like VAs and freelance writing. You can sign up for VA marketplace sites in just a few minutes and find relevant companies to work with. These aren’t the most scalable online business ideas, but they can help you get started quickly. And then you can pivot over time if you so choose.
Image Credit: Depositphotos
The smaller the company, the larger the potential impact of any employee. When hiring, entrepreneurs need to consider candidates' accomplishments, ability to learn from mistakes and potential to make the team better.
You won't make your business a success. Your team will. The smaller the company, the larger the potential impact of any employee — especially new hires who will significantly change your team by disrupting (for good or bad) the norm within the organization.
To innovate, thrive and grow, you need individuals with a variety of perspectives and experiences on your team. If everyone looks, thinks and acts the same, you'll be less likely to unearth the nuggets of wisdom and insights that often emerge when smart, intuitive, growth-minded individuals collaborate on a project.
When hiring, it can be tempting to seek candidates who have worked at similar businesses to your own, if not direct competitors. This method often works for large companies, but I believe that small business owners and startup founders — especially those making their first few outside hires — must approach hiring differently:
Accomplishments and learning are more important than specific skills. Small, up-and-coming companies are moving fast, and your team members must be ready for the race. Failing fast is fine, but only if you can learn fast, too — soaking in key learnings and applying them to the next endeavor. Most importantly, people who have made something important happen elsewhere are likely to do it again. I like to ask two key questions during the interview process. The answers tell me a lot:
How the person defines success, the specific actions the person took, their emotional reactions to the situation and the ways they interacted with others at the time tell a really important story. It's the story of, "How it looks when I'm most impactful" and "Here's how I learn and share that learning." Parts of the story will also offer important clues to how the person might fit in with your crew.
In your interview, explore these questions with your team in mind. Think, Would that type of success have happened in my shop? Is this person going to make my team better? How?
If the person has no answer, that says a lot about their initiative and willingness to take a calculated risk. What are the chances that your business will be the first place they've ever accomplished anything they are proud of?
Take a test drive
Before committing to bringing someone on full-time, it's important to make sure you understand exactly how the new hire would impact your company and your team. And that individual would appreciate gaining a clearer sense of what the job really entails, too. So, you'll both likely benefit from a trial run.
Just as testing and iterating are important when creating and launching products, so, too, are they useful in launching a newcomer's journey within your organization. One way to do this is to bring the candidate on as a consultant before making the commitment to full-time work; a good trial period is 30 to 90 days.
Also, assign the potential new hire to a specific project that requires interaction with other team members and one that may have time constraints or other barriers to success. How do they complement your existing team? That will give you a better gauge as to whether they're the right fit for your company and vice versa.
Prepare the others
Some of your core team have likely been with you from the beginning, so adding newcomers to the mix can be daunting. If you choose well and hire a multifaceted individual who brings new perspectives to the mix, that "healthy friction" can challenge assumptions and generate new energy that reinvigorates the team.
But don't blindside them. Let them know why you're adding a new person to fill the gaps, and tell them what you see as potential leverage coming from that person. You want the new person to fit in, not because they have the same background or expertise, but because your existing team respects that they bring something new to the table. Ultimately, it's the differences that will make your team and business stronger.
By hiring first and foremost for accomplishment in a team context, you will be more prepared to instill innovation and creative problem-solving into your decision-making process. Spice up your workforce with some unconventional hires, and you may uncover the spark needed for your company to evolve.
Image Credit: Pexels.com
Follow these strategies to grow your business during an economic downturn.
Over the past two years, we've seen a health crisis and financial market turmoil destabilizing the longest-ever US economic expansion period. Bear markets continue to grow, and an economic slowdown is already showing. What this means is a recession is likely around the corner. And while it is intimidating knowing we must brace for the imminent, it shouldn't be surprising and is quite normal.
We're due for a recession. After all, recessions are part of the economic cycle. Recessions weed out unsustainable businesses and create opportunities for the bold who venture to capitalize on recession-friendly products, services and technologies, and institute dynamic pricing that can be adjusted to meet demand. If you're an owner, decision-maker or stakeholder, now is the time to evaluate your business.
Know your industry
Is your industry growing, declining or holding stable? Are there features of your industry that are yesterday's news? It's essential to be an expert in your industry. While this should be a given, many companies are more interested in their output than the output of their sector collectively. More need to care about what's working and not working within their competition.
Businesses may not truly be comparing themselves to the proper competition. Today, your competitors are not just going after the same dollar but are creating convenience. For instance, as a former arts executive, I can tell you that the main competitor of the arts is not performance venues but streaming services.
During the pandemic, live performances declined in most cases to a full-stop, while streaming services grew tenfold. While this may seem like an unfair comparison, due to precautions mandated for live performance audiences, it's one where a competitor saw a market space that primarily served the same demographics and capitalized. Simply put, streaming services saw an opportunity and filled the void. They contracted some of the leading creative minds in the arts to generate content and value.
If your industry has an opportunity to tap into new markets due to the economy, you're in luck, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't take advantage. If your industry is in threat of being siphoned, you may want to expand your operations where there is an occasion to grow your market base. Determine whether the markets for your business are going through change and accordingly adjust your path. If there isn't an opportunity for your market, it's time to rethink your business model.
Know your financials
When the signs of a nearing recession appear, it's imperative to have a firm grasp on your cash flow and capital sources. Switch your focus from profit and loss statements to monitoring the balance sheet. This is particularly important because you'll want to make strategic financial decisions before inflation makes any spending needs untenable. Many companies will choose to cut corners during this time. Deep cuts may be required, but those are very different from cutting corners.
You will need to arm your team with the tools necessary to succeed. This means making smart spending (financing, etc.) instead of using your cash. You want to build your cash reserve during this time, not deplete it, which is bound to happen if you're not wise about protecting it. You'll also want to build your credit actively and have secured a credit line where you can negotiate monthly payments, instead of making expenses in full where possible.
Creating micro short-term financial metrics will help you monitor any returns on spending. These metrics can be completed in many ways, but what's important is that they allow you to make decisions proactively instead of reactively. You must be flexible during a recession, not just being open to frequent change but understanding where the changes need to occur. This will also help you to create reasonable forecasting goals that can be monitored and adjusted as needed.
Know your people
Personnel is the most critical investment in any industry. But, to retain, develop, and inspire talent, you must be transparent with your team about the state of things. Sometimes, especially in recessions, this isn't good news.
If you must make staff reductions, consider hour cutbacks and layoffs. Rehiring across the board is a timely process that sucks up many resources that could be used elsewhere. Firings, pay cuts and hiring freezes affect every department within your business and damage morale. You'll lose more employees this way who will set their sights on greener pastures.
You may consider taking a portion of your cash reserve and putting it into a high-yield money market account. This could have added payout benefits that your business could award to high-performance employees through a raise.
Know your customer
Does your business have a service or product that stands shoulders above the rest, or is it time to innovate and diversify? Who best to answer this question than your customers? During a financial downturn, your customers are your most significant resource, and not just regarding revenue generation.
Knowing your customers' financial health and spending habits will help your business target growth. Collecting and analyzing demographical information will be your reliable ally in understanding what sectors and walks of life your most recurring customers exist. It will also tell whether there is enough demand for what you supply. If not, knowing customer spending habits, which can be discovered and broken down by reputable data centers, will help your company understand where to pivot.
Know your options
At the end of the day, as a business owner, you don't have to consider any of the above. There are other options, and you should understand what those are. If the battle for survival is too daunting, never fear. There's much you can still do.
You can work towards a merger if your organization has acquired enough clout. If there are interested parties in what your company does, you can sell it. There's no shame in resigning when it's apparent that it's time for another leader to emerge. And, of course, you could close down shop. It takes a lot of insight to come to this option. Nobody wants to give up on something they created. But, sometimes, it's necessary to clean the slate. If the ship is sinking fast, it's best to let all parties know sooner than later so there's time to load your team into the lifeboats. Give your team the same courtesy with which you'd want to be extended. Failure doesn't define you, but it does make you more resilient for the next go-'round.
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Membership is open to businesses and organizations interested in increasing visibility and brand awareness in Westchester County and surrounding areas.