Sir Richard Branson, one of the world’s most recognizable billionaires, and the founder of Virgin Group, has built an empire comprised of more than 400 companies including airlines, record stores, publishing organizations and he's even tackling commercial space travel. He's also the author of more than a dozen business books, including his latest (fantastic) autobiography, Finding My Virginity that shares from behind-the-scenes of the ups and downs throughout Branson's more than fifty year career as an entrepreneur. During his interview on 30 Days of Genius with CreativeLive, I got to hear his best business advice for aspiring entrepreneurs who want to start a business of their own, first-hand:
There are numerous printing companies that will print your designs onto not just T-shirts, but also hoodies, hats, posters, cushions, bags, and phone cases, to name a few items. These businesses also offer fulfillment services. This means that you promote the merchandise on your own site and once you sell a product the printing company will not only print your design but also send the item directly to the buyer. So all you have to do is concentrate on the marketing and selling of your products, and the fulfillment company will take care of the rest.
But for every entrepreneur that becomes a success, there are many others who fail. Gallup polling has found that 50% of business don’t make it past five years. According to Fortune Magazine, a staggering nine out of ten startups will eventually fail. Those numbers may seem disheartening, but it doesn’t mean you should never consider entrepreneurship for your career.
As of October 2018 almost 4.2 billion people were active internet users and 3.4 billion were social media users (Statista). China, India and the United States rank ahead all other countries in terms of internet users. This gives a marketer an unprecedented number of customers to reach with product and service offerings, available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The interactive nature of the internet facilitates immediate communication between businesses and consumers, allowing businesses to respond quickly to the needs of consumers and changes in the marketplace.
If you have a knack for creating unique images, there’s no need to fuss over your own inventory. If your creations can be easily printed onto a product, then you can make money. Upload your designs on a variety of websites like CafePress. If someone likes them, the company prints them up and ships the product. You could create unique designs for calendars, books, T-shirts, bags, hats, greeting cards, or posters and get a commission for each one sold. Some of these sites include Zazzle, Teespring and Lulu.
Analytics software exists to tell you how users find your site and what they do once they get there. By combing through the data, you can figure out which content resonates most with your users. Focusing on what really works can save time – but it means ensuring that marketing pros get weekly analytics updates and reports that help them turn insights into action.
Create a writer website or blog. A website not only demonstrates your technical ability, but it also creates an online hub that allows clients to connect to you. Keep the design of your website clean and uncluttered. Include examples of your work that demonstrate the kind of writing you do. Make the samples easy to find and to read, and make it easy for visitors to figure out how to contact you. .
Risk is often the major reason why people avoid becoming an entrepreneur, but consider this: someone who works for a company has one source of income: their employer; while an entrepreneur has many different sources. If the employee gets laid off, they are out of a paycheck, but if an entrepreneur loses a customer, they have many more to fall back on. When managed properly, being an entrepreneur can actually be one of the safest careers possible.
Consider your expertise. If you take the time to reflect on your experiences, you will realize that you have more knowledge about which to write than you might think. Begin by listing three assets that define you, such as your profession, a special hobby or a personality trait. Next, list three things that inspire you, such as religion, education or charity. Finally, list three of your dreams, such as getting married, traveling or spending more time with your children. These three lists should give you many ideas of topics about which you can write.
Leanplum doesn’t shy away from topics that aren’t already evergreen per se, clearly confident enough in the company’s business model and product to know that these posts will have staying power. They may not invest as much in covering topics people have been talking about for years already, but we’ll need mobile marketing resources for years to come.
Amazon offers a service called Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA), which can be extremely useful for arbitrage sellers, or others selling their own products. If you opt for FBA, Amazon will store, pick, pack and deliver your products. That means you can scale your arbitrage business quickly as you don’t have to store products in your own home or waste time with postage.
Become an Amazon Associate and then use Keyword planner to find an in-demand niche: With more than a million different products to choose from and up to 10% commission the sales you drive, Amazon’s affiliate program is a great place to get started. Browse their available products and see what connects with you. Or take it a step further and use Google’s Keyword Planner to quickly check how many people are searching for a specific term. With affiliate marketing, the more relevant traffic you can pull in, the more you’ll make off your site.
There's a proverbial gold rush happening today, of people trying to launch chatbots for their businesses to help automate some of their sales and marketing efforts that are needed to properly grow and scale in today's market. However, similar to California's Gold Rush, those that will likely get rich are the ones that sell the picks and shovels. For that reason, why not launch your own chatbot business? Sure, there's some effort involved here, but this is definitely worth the steep learning curve.
Drop shipping is fairly similar to running an affiliate store. You act as the mediator without ever touching the product. The difference between a drop shipper and affiliate is that the sale with drop shipping websites is not completely managed. You might have to set up systems to automatically make a purchase with your drop shipping company, in order for it to be sent directly to the end consumer.
Sign up for a reputable affiliate network: Aside from Amazon, there are dozens of large reputable affiliate networks, such as Share-A-Sale, Clickbank, and Skimlinks, that specialize in connecting you with merchants who are looking for affiliates to sell their products. They charge relatively low commission fees for the privilege of connecting you with merchants, and the merchants on these sites tend to offer much higher commission percentages or set dollar amount payouts.
It doesn’t pay much, but if you’re a healthy person and want to make a bit of extra money online, the AchieveMint app will reward you for doing things like walking, tracking your food, or taking health surveys. AchieveMint works by connecting to fitness apps you might already be using like Fitbit, RunKeeper, Healthkit, and MyFitnessPal and then giving you points for certain actions. For every 10,000 points, you earn $10 with no limit on your earnings.
Networking can land you a new investor, a great employee, a new customer, or a great mentor. Attend industry and startup events. LinkedIn can be a powerful tool to help you network, so make sure both you and your company have profiles on LinkedIn and that you are constantly adding new connections. When someone does a Google search on you, your LinkedIn profile will usually show up at the top of the search results, so be sure you’re making a good first impression.
The Kissmetrics blog offers analytics and testing insights on everything you'd ever need when it comes to marketing. Data-driven marketing is truly their expertise. The team at Kissmetrics regularly examines statistical trends to create reports that can better inform brand's online performance. These posts help create solutions for companies looking to improve their online marketing, and a lot of their findings can help to shape the decisions made for a lot of companies as they try to achieve their marketing goals. Arguably the best part about their insights, and their real differentiator in comparison to blogs that are seemingly similar, is that nearly all of their thoughts are backed by corresponding metrics that support and provide reasoning for the advice they're giving.
A few years after founding Fit Brains, it was acquired by Rosetta Stone. In the process, I learned a lot about working with a large, corporate business. When Rosetta Stone approached me, they had a larger vision of how Rosetta Stone’s products and Fit Brains could join forces, and I knew it was a positive move for Fit Brains. I was lucky—the timing was right. However, you never know if the acquisition will go through right up until the end—so many things can pop up and derail the whole deal. Proceed with caution, and always have a plan to put in place for how to move forward should the deal fall through.
Case studies: Nothing grabs as much attention as a personal story. In fact, there are media that specialize on posting case studies mainly because of their high engagement potential. If it also contains a unique strategy, a new approach or angle, it has really good chances of being accepted by a prestigious blog. Personally, I hate writing about something that I’ve already read/written about before, so that’s why I often go with this option.