There’s an oft-repeated notion that you can learn everything you need to know from an entrepreneurial expert and swiftly become a roaring success. Business doesn’t work that way. In the end, you have to chart your own course.
That said, there’s a lot to be gained from learning from those who’ve already made it. The more closely you study the past, the better you can make your plan for the future. And since profit is inarguably the primary goal of the business world, it makes total sense to listen to experts on this topic.
To lend you some invaluable context about what works, what doesn’t, and what your destiny may yet hold, let’s take a look at 5 business gurus and identify their profit-related teachings.
Today, Richard Branson is worth billions, but you can’t say he hasn’t worked at it. He opened his first business (a magazine titled Student) at 16, started advertising records through it, then opened record shop when he was just 21. That seed would shortly grow into the Virgin Records label, which would grow massively and go international in 1980.
The name of the game since then has been expansion. The Virgin Group umbrella now unites numerous subsidiaries across various industries. How was Branson able to achieve such growth? Well, his attitude certainly seems to be key — he has a drive to spread his wings and try new things. In his own words:
“If somebody offers you an amazing opportunity but you are not sure you can do it, say yes – then learn how to do it later!”
This applies to profits because opportunities will come along to make money on projects you’re not sure about. You might think that it’s better to stick to safe work you know can produce… but if you do that, you won’t be pushed. Try putting yourself under pressure to learn, and find out how capable you truly are.
Now known as one of the foremost authors in the world of business guidance, Seth Godin is a long-time entrepreneur renowned for his insight. Having written 18 books and founded 2 companies, he currently puts his time towards building his personal brand to lend invaluable expertise to aspiring entrepreneurs.
What can he teach you about profits, though? Here’s the key quote:
“This is an economy based on connection. Can you be heard, can you connect, can you be trusted?”
It isn’t enough to have a solid product and a strong operational model. If you want to really profit, you need to build a trustworthy brand.
Think about how you’d like people to react to your brand name. What qualities should come to mind when they think of it? You can’t luck into positive reception, but you can work towards it, building that connection little by little over time — just as Godin did.
Tim Ferriss is a master of self-promotion, gathering referrals at a rapid clip: he was even named the greatest self-promoter in the world by Wired back in 2008. He just gets business, and as well as being a best-selling author (with The 4-Hour Workweek being an influential hit), he also runs one of the top business podcasts in the world: The Tim Ferriss Show.
As you’d expect, he has plenty of notable quotes to choose from, but I happen to be a big fan of the following:
“When you try to do something big, it’s hard to fail completely.”
Think about it. The campaigns that fail the most miserably are those that never get any attention. When you really put everything into an endeavor, a spectacular failure will still be spectacular.
So why go for something mediocre simply because it feels safer? Shoot for the biggest victory you can — otherwise, you’ll never make the most of your successes.
An in-demand speaker at SEO conferences around the world, Stephan Spencer has made himself a key part of the SEO world through his consulting and his highly-regarded books (including The Art of SEO, which he wrote alongside Moz founder Rand Fishkin). He places great emphasis on personal and professional development, taking a very optimistic stance.
Stephan Spencer’s website is a portal to his consulting services and his podcasts featuring interviews with various industry experts. On the topic of getting more store traffic, he had this to say:
"What's a lot easier is taking that traffic you're already getting and having it convert better.”
When you’re trying to sell more and raise your profits, don’t obsess over always getting new leads. It’s unsustainable, and inefficient. Instead, try to do more with the leads you get — more thoroughly exploit the opportunities that come along. If you know you can reliably convert, then it also makes fresh leads more valuable. It’s a win-win.
This may be something of an off-the-wall pick, but given that Valve’s Steam gaming platform brings in billions of dollars in revenue every year, it’s hard to argue that Gabe Newell, president of Valve, doesn’t have a lot to offer when it comes to business savvy.
There’s one quote in particular that pertains to digital piracy, but has wider implications:
“The easiest way to stop piracy is not by putting antipiracy technology to work. It's by giving those people a service that's better than what they're receiving from the pirates.”
This is significant for any type of business because it squashes the idea that you should undermine your competition to boost your profits. If you want to make more money than your competitors, develop a better product and present it in a more appealing way. It’s that simple.
Interested in more inspiration from business experts? Check out these posts from the SmartBiz Small Business Blog: