I was only 21 when I started my entrepreneurial journey. As a freshman in university, I knew little about business, but I was pumped with energy and determination to make it work. 7 years later, I have built a remote team of highly sought after talents in Southeast Asia. We lead multi-million dollar marketing campaigns for some of the largest education and training companies in the world. During this time, we also landed once-in-a-lifetime opportunities to work with world-class brands like the Golden State Warriors and the Economist. Looking back, we made many mistakes, but there were also things that we did right.
Here are 3 things that I believe any entrepreneur can accomplish which will give them a leg up in their business early on:
1. Become Your Own Publisher
Getting published is probably one of the most valuable things you can do as an entrepreneur early on. It gives you instant credibility in the eyes of potential customers and partners. But it is easier said than done. Most publications will not consider featuring your work if you do not have verifiable proof of your expertise.
However, you can work around it by becoming your own publisher first. Pick a few interesting topics in your industry and write about them. Then publish them on your own blog as a start. I wrote about 100 blog posts in my first year as an entrepreneur. Those blog posts landed paid writing gigs with the likes of Agorapulse and Postplanner, two fast-growing SaaS companies at the time. I was also invited to write for Social Media Examiner, one of the largest social media marketing publications.
Eventually, people started seeking me out as a consultant and that was how my company started. Becoming your own publisher doesn’t mean that you will become an overnight success. It takes time and patience, but you will be duly rewarded when the time comes.
“Don’t be afraid to go out on a limb. That’s where the fruit is.” – H. Jackson Browne
2. Build Your Network
As the adage goes, “it’s not about who you know, it’s who knows you that matter.” Your network is extremely valuable as a founder. When you are starting a new business, hardly anyone knows about you and what you do. Your professional network serves as an extension of your business. They are like additional eyes and ears. People will look out for you and send business your way.
A few years ago, I was introduced to Noah Kagan. Noah Kagan founded several successful companies and he was employee #30 at Facebook and #4 at Mint. At the time, Noah was hiring a paid traffic director for one of his companies. A friend of mine thought of me and introduced us. Although I did not take up the job offer, this shows you just how powerful your network can be. I have landed several 5 and 6 figure deals through my network in the last few years and it remains as my top priority in business.
3. Lend Your Expertise To An Industry Superstar (Even If It’s For Free)
Have you ever considered reaching out to the most prominent people in your industry? Most people do not even think of doing so, because they feel inferior compared to the industry heavyweights. But this is nothing more than a self-limiting belief. There is a lot we can offer to anyone as an entrepreneur if we have developed an expertise.
A few years ago, my business hit a road bump, so I reached out to Dennis Yu, a renowned speaker and marketing agency owner. Coincidentally, Dennis was looking for a consultant to come into his firm and groom his team. They landed numerous deals with Forbes 500 and Inc 5000 brands but were not able to keep up operationally. So, we teamed up and I led his team to run multi-million dollar marketing campaigns for insurance carriers, education companies, and I even had the chance to consult for the marketing team of the Golden State Warriors.
If I had not reached out to him, the trajectory of my business would likely have looked very different today. So, if you are struggling to gain traction in your business as an entrepreneur, consider reaching out to those who are well-known in your industry. Share why you look up to them and ask if there are any opportunities to help them out. If one rejects you, go to another.
“Winners never quit, and quitters never win.” – Vince Lombardi
Don’t give up!
Building a business is not easy. There are many things you will try that will not work, but don’t let those failures discourage you. The difference between businesses that succeed and fail is only a matter of determination. If you are struggling in your first year of business, I hope these tips I’ve shared today will help you notch a few victories in your entrepreneurial journey.