I’ve learned many invaluable entrepreneurship lessons that have changed my business forever. To be honest, I wish I’d learned them sooner. Perhaps they’ll help you too.
1. The power of a mentor is undeniable
When you start a business, I recommend finding an experienced mentor with knowledge and expertise in your field. A valuable mentor will hold you to high expectations and challenge you to your full potential.
Like any first-time entrepreneur you’re bound to make mistakes. Having a trusted mentor at your side can help prevent costly business decisions.
It is important to let go of your ego and listen. The best mentor is someone who is not only successful in their own business, but someone who can give you knowledge from their own experience and help steer you down the right path.
My mentor, for example, taught me business values, tactics, and how important it is to take action rather than just talking about it. My mentor challenged me and I was given two weeks to sell religious bracelets, button-up shirts and perfumes with revenue of $1,700.
At first I started selling the products to my family, but that well ran dry pretty quickly. Then I went to Brooklyn, New York and walked into multiple corner stores and asked storeowners and managers if they were willing to sell my items in their stores. Nothing but rejection!
Credit: Daniel Booter
After hearing the same rejections over and over again I wanted to give up. I soon came to the realization that my mentor was teaching me a valuable lesson to target a specific audience with my products and services.
There will be obstacles and challenges as a beginner entrepreneur. Remain true to yourself and listen to the advice your mentor gives you.
2. But first, brand yourself
Branding is not just about your product or service it’s also about the person representing the company.
You’ll need to stand out from your competitors. If you’re looking for investors they are going to be interested in your concept and even more so … they are investing in you. Clients are looking for more than just the service; they are looking to see if they feel comfortable and trust the person they are dealing with, especially if you’re new to the market.
Make sure you are well-educated on your product and services. The more knowledge you have the more powerful you appear to your clients and customers. Meanwhile, being personable, reliable, and trustworthy will help market your products and provide excellent customer satisfaction.
We live in a world that is guided by perception. Dressing for success will help you appeal to the type of clients you desire to serve. This is a form of personal branding. When you feel good about yourself you will feel more confident and confidence leads to success.
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This was something that came naturally to me; it was instilled in me since I was young. Growing up, I went to a Catholic school with a strict dress code and my father always made certain I was well-dressed. Having a unique sense of style helps make an impression on people. You are a brand and so is your business.
3. Market, market and then market some more
You can have a million dollar idea, but if nobody knows about it, it means nothing. Driving traffic to your website and marketing your company on social media outlets will help get your brand out there.
Remember it’s about targeting the right audience for your niche market. As a startup, PR is the name of the game. People need to know that your product and services exist.
A few strategies I implemented to market my luxury concierge business was to get my name out there through word of mouth, social media and get featured on vendor websites to highlight my services.
Word of mouth can be your best friend — especially since people tend to trust the opinions of others when it comes to their experiences with your company. This is why I believe in providing outstanding customer service and always trying to leave clients with a memorable experience.
Social media is an extraordinary platform — there is tremendous business value. You can reach out to millions of people in a matter of seconds.
If you know how to utilize social media and create a strong online presence to market your products or services, it will engage people and contribute to sales growth.
4. There is no success without sacrifice
Starting a business is a 24/7 commitment that comes with many sacrifices. To be successful and grow your company there are no days off in the early-stages of a startup.
For example, I start work the moment I open my eyes. There have been many nights out with friends that I had to decline along with family events that I had to miss in order to make sure my work was complete.
Did I feel left out or that I was missing fun experiences with friends and family? No. Honestly, these are sacrifices that will yield a much greater reward in the future.
Work until your idols become your rivals
Remember: There is someone out there working just as hard or even harder than you. You must outwork your competition. This thought alone, along with my drive and passion keeps me hungry and keeps me going.
You need discipline, commitment, sacrifice, and dedication to be an entrepreneur. There may be people who won’t understand your goals or see the same vision as you. Don’t pay them any attention.
I have made many mistakes and failed in certain areas, but I kept on going despite my doubts and fears.
In order to move forward with your vision you need to remove the negative energy in your life and surround yourself with like-minded people. The right people in your life are going to encourage you and build you up.
These are the people that want to see you succeed.
These are the people that share the same mind set as you.
Start by prioritizing yourself and your business. Finding the right balance requires sacrifice in order to grow.
This article has been edited and condensed.
Neil Mathew is an American entrepreneur and up-and-coming real estate developer with a focus on residential sectors specializing in the development of single-family and multi-family projects. At 23, he founded an international luxury concierge that serves high net worth individuals around the world. In 2015 Neil Mathew was appointed as a brand ambassador for Manor of London, a UK-based luxury company known for its quintessential British brand of bespoke and fully customizable high-end luxuries.