A successful entrepreneur shares her thoughts on business success and failure.

The One Thing Successful Entrepreneurs Do Differently

Successful entrepreneurs Recently, I had the opportunity to participate in a small mastermind. Four of the five people participating had sold or built businesses for at least $1 million, and the fifth person was a successful, high-income earner in real estate.

I attend a lot of marketing meetings and conferences, and listen in to many conversations entrepreneurs have. And it struck me that the conversation we were having varied significantly from the conversation most beginning entrepreneurs have in one significant way…

Beginning entrepreneurs talk about their idea, but successful entrepreneurs focus on conversion.

What Makes A Successful Business?

Most people have a fundamental misconception of what makes a successful business. We assume it’s the idea that makes a business successful. This then becomes a big stumbling block…we assume we aren’t creative enough to come up with a “great idea”, or that our idea isn’t “good enough” because someone else is already doing the same thing.

This is one of the main causes of people not even getting started with their business. But the reality is that most people who have made over a million dollars in business have done it with a pretty mundane business. Many wealthy people are running businesses in areas we assume we can’t compete in, like dry cleaning, plumbing, or high-end web hosting!

The reality is, if you know how to consistently turn potential customers into customers, you can enter even a crowded industry and succeed. New ideas are often far harder to sell than starting a business in an existing industry and making it better than the current businesses in that industry.

Here’s a good litmus test to see whether you’re going to have an easier time converting visitors to your business into customers: Do you have to educate your potential customers on why they need your type of business?

If you answered “yes” to that question, you have a tougher road ahead of you.

My Own Tough Road

I’ll share an example from my own past. Once I sold my business, I had to become financially literate–fast! I bought a whole shelf full of books on personal finance. I signed up to and read at least 20 different personal finance blogs. I started tracking my expenses down to the penny, redid all of my investments, and began to disentangle myself from all my Stuff.

That wasn’t an easy transition, and I wanted to help others get through it, too. So I set up a conference called WealthCamp in San Francisco. I invited some top personal finance speakers and had the conference participants set the agenda for the afternoon.

What I wasn’t prepared for was that most people just don’t have any interest in actively learning about money! (Sad, but true.) I remember clearly asking one friend of mine why she wasn’t coming, and she said “I don’t care about wealth.” Most of my “friends” didn’t even bother to show up, and though we had a great group of 35 people who did register and attend, as well as a sponsor, I still personally lost nearly $5,000 putting on the conference.

I was not happy about the outcome. I still deeply feel that our country needs personal finance education. But with many people turning their noses up at anything involving even the word “wealth”, what can we do?

Later on, I learned that there’s basically one way to sell “wealth” products and services, and that is by promoting the lifestyle that you may achieve once you become wealthy. If I would have called the conference something about “Lifestyle” and promoted it as a way to quit your job and do what you love (via financial independence and learning about money!) it probably would have been quite popular. But making the conference about money itself was a misstep.

Successful entrepreneurs understand their customers’ true wants, needs, and desires. They use those to consistently convert potential customers into buyers. They rarely compete on price–instead, they use marketing to tap into the deeper desires of all of us (love, freedom, peace, health) and sell from that level.

What Are You Selling?

So…what are you selling?

Are you selling coaching…or your customer’s ticket to inner peace?

Are you selling personal finance advice…or your customer’s chance to provide for their family and have more freedom?

Are you selling personal training…or a unique opportunity for your customer to finally achieve the great body and amazing health, vitality, and energy they’ve always desired?

Are you selling plumbing services…or a painless way for your customers to spend more time with their families and look better in the eyes of their peers?

It doesn’t matter what you’re selling on the surface, and it doesn’t matter how good your idea is or how much you think the world needs it. If you can’t tap into a deep human desire and then convert potential customers into customers based on that, you won’t have much success. Successful entrepreneurs know this.

By the way, if you would like to see this in action, watch a beer commercial or a Coca-Cola commercial. Coca-Cola uses nostalgia heavily in its advertisements–equating drinking a Coke with your childhood or memories of better days in the past. Beer ads use a “lifestyle” premise–they equate drinking beer with having fun, getting the girl, and being the “funny guy” or the life of the party. You can do something similar, no matter what your own business is.

How do you plan to “go deeper” and convert more potential customers into customers? Let me know in the comments.

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I'm Erica Douglass.
After selling my online business at age 26 for over $1 million, I created this blog to help you grow your own business quickly.

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