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Between the two of us, Carter and I have over a decade of experience as entrepreneurs. That’s not a lot of time, in the whole scheme of things, but it’s been long enough that we’ve realized there’s a lot we wish we would’ve known when we were first starting out. In Episode 28 of The Coders’ Startup, we give you our top seven tips for new entrepreneurs. Ready… set… go!
1. Build an auto-responder that has a purpose
When I first started my blog, I had an auto-responder series, but there was really no direction for it. The content stopped after about four or five sends because I wasn’t sure what to put into it. There was no purpose. When you’re building your auto-responder, think about what action you want your readers to take by the end of your series. What do you want the end result to be — a purchase? A podcast subscription? It could be anything, just make sure you have something in mind. That’s your purpose.
Entrepreneurs say they often look back and realize that by not having a purposeful auto-responder series from the get-g0, they’re leaving money on the table. Give away your content for free, put all your cards on the table, and if your subscribers like it, they’ll likely buy in to your product, too.
2. Research plugins and template options
Bottom line — there are tons of templates and plugins out there that will save you time and money on your website. Take it from Carter, who learned this after spending a lot of money on a fancy, new website for a venture a few years ago. While the website turned out to be a great product, he knows now that he could’ve essentially crafted the same thing on his own with all the built-in solutions that are out there. Do some research and ask around, chances are there is an easier, affordable solution than what you might presume.
3. Don’t reinvent the wheel
Customized solutions aren’t everything. You can learn so much and save a lot of time by repurposing content, code, and really anything else you can think of, by researching what others in your field have done before you. By creating my own custom platform for my Java course, I broke the golden rule of programming — don’t reinvent the wheel.
4. Copy the best
This ties back to our last tip. Whatever it is you’re building or creating, it’s likely that someone else has already done it, and likely done it well. Research your competition, and research what you don’t know. Look for a way to copy someone who has already put the time and effort into solving the problem you too are trying to solve.
Whether you want to gain social followers or get more leads, exhaust all of your resources first. Between YouTube, Udemy, blogs, podcasts … the list goes on … you should be able to get a realistic sense of your market and what your product should look like before you actually launch it.
I really can’t stress this point enough. It took me two failed attempts at products in other markets to realize that my problem was focus. I just needed to focus on what was working for me — my Java programming course. I spent almost a third of my entrepreneurial career (one year out of three at this point), testing the waters in other ventures until I realized where the money and the customers really were.
While it’s hard to know sometimes where to actually focus your energy, look for the positive signs. If you have people thanking you or sending you good feedback on your product, that’s a sign your own the right track.
For Carter, he’s making this year his “year of focus”. Setting goals will really help you kick things into gear if you tend to have trouble staying focused — especially if you decide to set goals with time constraints.
6. Use a notebook
Carter takes a notebook with him everywhere he goes. There are tons of psychological studies behind the value of bringing pen to paper. Whether you want to write down goals, things you’re grateful for, ideas, thoughts, or your to-do list for the day, having and using a notebook can really help you with your overall mindset as an entrepreneur. Whiteboards, sticky notes, and sketchbooks are another way you can practice this more tactile way of thinking, as well.
7. Split test your prices
The problem of not knowing what to charge can be completely solved by split testing. I know this is something that be people hesitate on, especially if you have friends and family coming to your site, purchasing your product, and who might cross paths and discuss the differences in price. But I’ve been doing this for three months now, and I’ve yet to run in to that problem.
What’s better, is that split testing is really helping me figure out what I should actually be charging. For my courses, I’m currently testing four different price points: $150, $400, $500, and $1000.
After two months of testing and hundreds of data points, I can now say that of the total amount of money I’ve made, half of my total revenue has come from the $500 price point. Think of all the revenue I might be losing if I stuck with my lower price point of only $150. This is why you should always be testing within your business — chances are, if you’re offering a quality, niche product, you should be charging more.
So, there you have it! Take these seven tips to heart, and apply them to your own businesses. As always, thanks for reading, and let us know in the comments what you wish you would have known before becoming an entrepreneur!