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5 Ways to Become a Successful Entrepreneur

Starting a business is hard work. 

It takes planning, dedication, and persistence. And even with the right preparation and expertise, a business can still fail. In fact, 50% of new businesses go under within the first five years of opening. 

That leads to the million dollar question: How can you become a successful entrepreneur?

Luckily, I work a few feet from a successful entrepreneur, Adam Johnston. Adam is the co-founder and CEO of Last Call Trivia. His journey took him from bartender, to side hustler, to entrepreneur. Now, teams can play Last Call Trivia in more than 250 bars and restaurants throughout the country.

Adam has discussed his path in interviews with sites such as Indie Hackers, Side Hustle Nation, and Side Hustle School. Below are some of the top tips and tricks for success he has shared.

1. Commit to a mindset of success

chess board with several pieces knocked down and the king standing in the middle

You’ve probably heard this advice before. In fact, it seems so obvious that many people skim right over it. But a positive mindset is about more than commitment to achieving your goals. You need to ensure that all the pieces of your environment are moving you forward.

In other words, what do you need to be your most productive self? Let’s say you focus better after a morning jog. In that case, make exercise a priority and adjust your schedule as needed. Make sure to create an environment that encourages your success.

A positive mindset also requires surrounding yourself with people who support your goals. Drop people who offer negativity and distractions. This is a tough process, but it’s one of the most important steps on your journey.

One of the biggest personal impacts on me the past couple years was getting into meditation. Making this a daily priority has made a huge difference in my mindset. I’m a fan of Sam Harris and his guided meditation app, Waking Up. There are tons of great resources out there, so find what works best for you. Meditating ten minutes a day will improve both your personal and professional life.

Adam Johnston

2. Network and share ideas

man and woman talking with trees in the background

Experience is one of the most valuable assets. Which is why networking with other entrepreneurs is so important. Sharing ideas and learning from others creates synergy. Even businesses from other industries can provide lessons that are applicable to you.

Finding a mentor is a another great way to grow and improve. Mentors can offer advice, guidance, and help with starting a new business. They also have large networks and industry connections, which is incredibly valuable. Industry meet-ups and networking events are a good way to meet potential mentors.

You can also reach out to people through social media. LinkedIn is a solid place to start. Platforms, like Indie Hackers and Alignable, also encourage entrepreneurs to connect and learn. Social media might not create as personal of a connection, but it does have advantages. For one, you can talk to people across the world who you would never run into in person. Also, it provides an easy way to start a conversation with successful entrepreneurs.

I recently joined Indie Hackers which has given me the opportunity to connect with other entrepreneurs. It’s a great platform for sharing both success stories and learning experiences. There is a ton of helpful information from the first hand experience of business owners. I also take the opportunity to network anytime I’m at an event. Whether I’m at a bar, a convention, or a football game, I do my best to get to know the people around me. I don't always come away with a new business connection, but at the very least, it makes life more interesting!

Adam Johnston

3. Understand your industry

tablet sitting on a table showing charts and data with a coffee mug in the background

It can be tempting to rely on instinct and personal preferences when starting a business. But the only way to make a truly informed decision is to understand the industry you’re entering.

Even if you have experience in the industry, make sure that you take a holistic approach. Take the example of a former server and bartender now starting a restaurant. It’s helpful to know the daily experience of working in a restaurant. 

 

But, it’s a mistake to rely on only personal experience without considering the big picture. What are the trends in the industry as a whole? Which types of restaurants are experiencing increased popularity? What markets are oversaturated?

Stay up to date on industry news and trends. Collect data on the market as a whole, as well as your own business. Having the data to analyze and inform your decisions will keep your business on the right track. 

 

A solid understanding of your industry is the key to success because it will ensure your choices are purposeful.

Last Call Trivia was founded in 2007 and in the years since, we’ve become experts on Trivia Nights. The vast majority of our full-service clients are bars and restaurants. But, given the customizable nature of Flex, it appeals to a wider variety of markets.

Adam Johnston

We needed to improve our ability to market to a larger audience and collect data. Last year, we hired an SEO strategist, which has been a huge help to our team. Our SEO strategist has taken on many projects. For example, revamping our Google Ads, optimizing landing pages, and improving loading speeds. This was essential for us to take an informed and methodical approach to our new markets.

Adam Johnston

4. Listen to feedback

To be a successful entrepreneur, you need to have a vision. But, don’t become so married to a specific plan that you’re unwilling to listen to- and act on -feedback. The purpose of your business is to serve the needs of your customers. Which means feedback is a valuable tool that you should actively seek out and accept.

Take note of what your customers, mentors, and peers are saying. That includes both positive and negative feedback. 

 

You don’t need to adjust your product or service based on every individual piece of feedback. But it is important to acknowledge input and track trends.

Stay flexible and make adjustments to your business when needed. Remember the needs of your customers in all your business decisions. This will ensure that your product or service remains valuable to consumers.

Flex itself was a product of feedback from our full-service clients. Every bar has a different clientele and preference. We needed to find a way to offer our clients a custom experience in a scalable way. That’s why we developed Flex. Flex allows users to create custom Trivia shows by picking the categories and difficulty level their customers like.

Adam Johnston

Stay in tune with feedback from customers in your niche. Is there a feature they need that isn’t yet available? Can you solve their problem in an innovative way? Constant improvement is the key to keeping your customers happy.

Adam Johnston

5. Deliver more than expected

promotional graphic for trivia night showing a hand pouring a beer into a glass

Consumers are used to businesses asking for their money. And in most cases, they have plenty of choices when looking for a service provider.

The best way to rise above the noise and gain trust – and business – from consumers is to exceed their expectations. This can take lots of different forms, depending on what you’re selling. 

 

There is always an opportunity to go above and beyond for your customers.

This will build a loyal following and encourage customers to spread positive feedback. And in the age of social media, positive word of mouth is increasingly important. Establishing a positive image for your brand will fuel your success.

Adam's Final Words

My team and I are always looking for ways we can improve our clients experience. We pride ourselves on the service we provide. 

For example, we offer weekly social media promo graphics free of charge. The picture to the left shows one of our more recent weekly promo images. This gives our clients another resource to make their Trivia Nights a success.

We’ve also offered free webinars, training, and consultation. By keeping our ears to the ground, we can be proactive about our offerings. Our job is to empower our clients to create a successful Trivia Night. And we’re constantly looking for creative ways to help deliver.

Starting a business is a tough and risky process. You’ll need expertise, flexibility, and drive to make it a success. Even well planned endeavors can fail. But with the right approach and preparation, you can become a successful entrepreneur. 

 

Use the tips above to stay on the right path. And if you learn any valuable lessons of your own, be sure to let us know. As Adam likes to say, “Go change the world – it makes for great Trivia.”

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