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Amazon, Shopify or Walmart: What Kind of eCommerce Store Should You Start?

March
26, 2021

6 min read

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Currently, there are over 2.5 million sellers on Amazon. On Shopify, over 1 million merchants in 175 countries. On Walmart, 35,000 private sellers.Why? As stated by AcquireConvert, From 2020 to 2021, eCommerce sales are expected to rise 33%. And, “By 2021, global eCommerce is forecast to be $4.97 trillion – almost a 400% increase in seven years.” Meaning, the eCommerce space is still booming, and it’s not slowing down. It can be alarming to new entrants when so many people are rushing into a given category, but that doesn’t mean more opportunity isn’t present. In fact, there is “space” for everyone, because almost all brick and mortar businesses can eventually be taken online. And there are countless niches yet to migrate to digital selling.Being a four-time digital entrepreneur, and having run over 150 marketing campaigns for clients ranging from Billie Eilish to Mark Cuban’s Prep Expert, to the famed app TikTok, I’ve seen a large range of businesses, marketing campaigns, and sales data. Here’s where that data is pointing. Evaluating Your Options for Starting an Online BusinessAt the end of the day, most of us are shooting for financial and time freedom. That’s why eCommerce is so attractive, compared to a brick-and-mortar business. You can run your online store from anywhere, on your time.The most popular eCommerce platforms continue to be Shopify, Amazon, and now Walmart Seller platform. Trailing behind are WordPress, WooCommerce, Webflow, Squarespace, and a handful of others.Shopify remains the preferred platform for brands. If you are looking to start a long-term business, say five years plus, Shopify is the best option. It takes a long time to build a legitimate brand, to gain trust from your customers, and for them to spread your message organically. Your store starts with zero traffic, and you must do all your own marketing. However, brands always take home the most margin and have incredible scalability once profitable, thanks to Facebook, Instagram, and Youtube ads.Amazon Seller Central is the most popular. Amazon is also good for brands, but has much slimmer margins, difficult compliance measures, and requires a lot of platform-expertise. To experience strong, consistent growth on an Amazon Seller Store, it’s imperative you either get an expert on your side or conduct deep research into the platform. This allows you to sell in restricted categories. But, the demand and traffic are essentially endless, so the job of marketing and selling product is much easier than competing as a brand in the open market or on Facebook Ads. Countless firms specialize in building and running Amazon stores, who can handle this for you, like PushAMZ and Omnitail.Walmart Seller is a little-known “secret,” if you will. Just like Amazon, you can sell your product there and harness the incredible traffic and demand that their online platform offers. They have the fewest sellers but are growing quickly and taking Amazon on head-first. However, Walmart doesn’t want to be Amazon. They’re avoiding the logistics game and don’t want fulfillment centers, warehouses, and trucks. They’d rather Walmart Sellers like you and me handle the job of getting products to customers expediently, in turn offering you more flexibility. Walmart may be the “blue ocean” you’re looking for.These are the most popular and refined platforms for selling online. There are other options, like WordPress & WooCommerce, but they were adjusted to fit eCommerce post-facto, rather than designed for it initially. So they’re not as streamlined.Related: 7 Steps to Starting a Small Business Online How To Evaluate Products, Demand, Opportunity, And ScalabilityThe most important step in creating your online business is selecting the right product. It is a good rule of thumb to find a very specific, highly “painful” problem and offer a direct solution to that.However, as you know, many brands aren’t solving a problem per se, rather offering something that’s fashionable, trendy, or is a status symbol. The latter is the most difficult kind of business to make profitable because it requires years of extensive and expensive brand marketing.Finding the right product is difficult and should not be hurried. And be wary of any product or business that you’re feeling very “passionate” about. If you’re aiming for the fastest road to profitability, find a product that solves a specific problem and is highly desirable, rather than something that “feels” like it could be a success. The more emotionally-driven products, like a pair of luxury sunglasses, are better as a brand developed over time.A few tools that can help you quantify demand for a product you’re interested in are:Simply enter the keywords into Google’s Keyword Tool that are related to your proposed business and see if demand is increasing and whether competition is high or low. Then, validate the relative growth over time of a new product’s demand by looking at the trendline on Google Trends. Related: Tackling the Scalability Challenge Choosing Your PlatformThe big question: which platform should I go with? Before you dive in, think through your goals for yourself and from the store. Some questions to consider are:What time frame am I looking to earn a profit? Amazon and Walmart are typically the fastest. What time frame am I looking to run this store? Shopify is better for longer engagements and can eventually be sold.Am I doing this to create a brand or movement, or simply to earn money? Shopify is better for brands, Amazon and Walmart for simple cash-in, cash-out.How much time do I have to dedicate to this? Shopify requires the most time and effort and is a longer-tail investment. Walmart and Amazon will require less time in general due to the fact you don’t need to do as much marketing since they have traffic already. If you chose the fastest profit and least time, Amazon and Walmart are optimal. However, they require a lot of platform expertise, meaning it may be better to hire an expert. Many Amazon Automation Agencies handle things A to Z, and you simply invest a one-time fee to build it while the agency runs it. Conversely, if you chose the branded route, Shopify is optimal.Related: How Brands and Sellers Can Benefit From Amazon’s Massive Growth In ClosingThe first step to choosing a new business to enter is with your own goals: where do I want this business to take me, and when? Then with that, you can choose the relevant platform.If you’re doing this as a side gig, understand that it will require as much time as any other business. And no business is easy, period.So do your homework, talk to experts and then choose a platform and stick to it. Your success is inevitable!

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In the News: Credit Unions are Helping Small Businesses with PPP Loans

The Paycheck Protection Program’s (PPP), the first and second round, have doled out hundreds of billions of dollars to small businesses. This doesn’t include different provisions designed to help hard-hit small businesses in the latest round of the COVID-19 relief bill. However, there are still many small business owners who are having a hard time getting PPP loans. In this week’s roundup, one of our articles is titled, Credit Unions Help Small Businesses Having Trouble Getting PPP Loans. And it looks at how these financial institutions are using their community-oriented approach to help their local entrepreneurs. And as of July 2020, 934 credit unions have approved 1.2 million PPP loans totaling $9.7 billion. These funds are responsible for supporting 1.2 million jobs. These types of articles help small business owners find the resources they need for everything from PPP loans as well another piece that explains how remote team management is more time-consuming.The Small Business Trends weekly news roundup is designed to highlight some of the more important news affecting small business owners. But you can go beyond the roundup and find more content covering virtually all things small business.Small Business News Roundup – March 26, 2021Take a look at what SBT has to offer in this roundup.Remote Team Management is More Time Consuming, Survey FindsRemote team management is more time-consuming than the traditional time management styles physical office working offers. This key finding related to contemporary workplace trends was uncovered by a survey compiled by performance management company Actus. The research was carried out in mid-January 2021.55% of Small Business Owners Say Providing Healthcare is Their Biggest ChallengeMore than half (55%) of small businesses say providing health insurance to employees is the biggest challenge they face. Providing adequate healthcare cover comes ahead of Covid challenges, taxes, and competition from large corporations. This was the finding of Small Business for America’s Future national survey of small business owners.Guide to Tax Implications of Financing OptionsIf your business needs money, you have different ways to raise it. You can take in investors (equity financing), borrow it (debt financing), win contests or grants, or simply have people give you money (gifts). Each of these options presents different practicalities for your business; they also have different tax consequences.11 Tips for Entrepreneurs Looking to Write Their First BookPutting together a book takes time, energy and a lot of effort. And while it accounts for a lot of the book’s labor, writing isn’t the only thing an entrepreneur needs to concern themselves with. Publishing the book and the marketing associated with it also have a place in the overall success equation. But not all new writers know what to expect from the writing process.7 Efficiencies Created by Having an Integrated Back OfficeThe back office is the unsung hero of many small businesses. Untold quantities of paper pushing and forgotten transactions work together to keep an organization humming along like a well-oiled machine. Of course, that’s the case when a back office is operating at peak efficiency. Often the reality is a bit less organized.How to Buy a BusinessIf you want to enter the world of entrepreneurship without starting from scratch, you may consider buying a business. However, some prospective business buyers aren’t sure where to start. Luckily, there are business brokers, marketplace sites, and tons of other resources to help you navigate the process. Each business purchase is likely to look a bit different.Jobber Launches Boost, a $100,000 Grant Program for Small BusinessJobber has created a grant program available to small businesses. Find out who qualifies and how to get access to this capital in our report on the program this week.Image: Depositphotos

Jobber Launches Boost, a $100,000 Grant Program for Small Business

Jobber, builders of job tracking and customer management software for home service businesses, has launched a new grant program.Known as Boost By Jobber, the grant program is designed to help small home service businesses launch, grow and strengthen.Boost by Jobber is inviting almost-entrepreneurs, new business owners and experienced owners to apply for one of 20 grants. The grants range from $1,000 to $20,000, depending on the category a business qualifies for.Boost by Jobber – $100,000 Small Business Grant ProgramRunning a small business comes with many challenges and hurdles, many of which have escalated over the past 12 months because of the coronavirus pandemic. Having access to funding is essential in helping small businesses succeed and grow and stay afloat during these difficult times.Importance of Small Business FundingAs the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System notes, business owners and entrepreneurs need access to a variety of credit sources. Short-term credit is important for the day-to-day management of cashflow. Longer-term credit is vital for capital investments. Despite this, less than half of small businesses report that their credit needs are met.Royce Ard of My Amazing Maid, a professional home cleaning service in Columbus and the Valleys, commented on the difficulty of securing a loan:“Typically, when I see a grant, I’m almost always assuming it’s for a specific cohort and I wouldn’t qualify. Loans are very, very, very hard to get in the States. As far as going to a bank and getting $10k for your business, you’re not going to get it.”Sourcing to funding like that offered by Boost by Jogger can prove an invaluable lifeline for small business.Driving Small Business SuccessWith a cash injection, businesses operating in home services, like cleaners and gardeners, can put their business in a better position to succeed and thrive. Money can be spent on new equipment, marketing the business, launching a new service, training teams, and other key components required for success.Almost-entrepreneurs who have the drive to start and run a home service business can apply for the grant. As can new business owners who are in the first three years of operation. Experienced business owners with three years or more experience and that are ready to scale and take their business to the next level are eligible to apply. As are entrepreneurs in the home services industry that require Covid-19 support to get their business back to its pre-Covid state.Small businesses can apply for the Boost By Jogger loan via the website.Image: Depositphotos

A Ticking Time Bomb: Mainstream Messaging Apps Are Killing Your Company's Security

March
26, 2021

6 min read

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

If the 2020 hack on IT giant SolarWinds offered anything of substance to the business world, it should be an unquenchable desire to protect their employees. The hack — targeted to infiltrate SolarWinds’ Orion network management tool — affected thousands of customers, ranging from Fortune 500 companies to several government agencies. Unfortunately, the effects will be felt for years. Early this year, American intelligence agencies pinned the attack on Russia after discovering several similarities between the code used in the attack (referred to as UNC2452) and an older Russian malware (called Turla). The extent of the infiltration is still unknown, but the data is already staggering. More than 18,000 customers downloaded the infected update, including national agencies like the U.S. Treasury, the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of State. The ramifications of this attack are sobering; nation-states and their agencies are able to infect a top-rated IT company’s software and spread it to thousands of companies when they patch their systems. Such an attack, known as a supply-chain attack, is insidious because patches and updates are considered a must for maintaining a defensive cybersecurity posture. When the patch gets compromised, the results can be devastating.Related: 5 Signs of a Smartphone Hack (and How to Protect Yourself)Tech-savvy users are more conscious about data-sharingWith such risks out there, enterprises should be doing everything in their power to protect their employees and data. When the resources of a hostile nation-state are stacked against you, you can’t afford to miss out on easy victories. Cue the recent controversy with WhatsApp, a messaging platform that Facebook owns. It started bleeding customers when it began sharing data with its parent company. With data privacy an ever-present concern, enterprises should shy away from using apps that allow data to be shared with any outside party.If the thought of sharing company data with one of the biggest data-harvesters in the world scares you, it should. With its pioneering of end-to-end (E2E) encryption on standard text messages, WhatsApp quickly built up a huge customer base among people concerned about their privacy with Facebook messenger and notoriously insecure SMS messaging. That customer base is quickly leaving as WhatsApp becomes that which it swore to destroy,  requiring users to consent to share their data with Facebook. Suddenly, there’s no real reason to keep using WhatsApp, so users are flocking to alternatives like Signal or Telegram. As of January 12, Signal reported it had 50 million downloads on Android devices alone. In January, Telegram hit 500 million users, with 25 million of their new users joining within a 72-hour period. For reference, it took Telegram about six months to add 100 million in 2019 and 2020. Clearly, WhatsApp’s mass exodus shows that secure messaging apps are still something most people want and need.These apps are also using clever ways to get more people to download and use their app — like giving users the ability to migrate an entire group chat from WhatsApp to Signal with a simple link. Using this feature, Signal can grow its user base exponentially without asking people for their contact lists. Signal had around 20 million active users in December 2020. While the company hasn’t disclosed how many new users they’ve added since WhatsApp started hemorrhaging users, it was downloaded 7.5 million times in a five-day period in January 2021 after Elon Musk tweeted about it. Related: The Pivot to Remote, and What It Means for SecurityFinding a Secure Alternative for BusinessAs more people join these secure messaging apps, they’re becoming a viable alternative for other users. A messaging app is only as good as its customer base, after all. If you can’t find a user on it, why use it? But are these apps suitable for widespread enterprise use? Truthfully, Signal is a pretty bare-bones app without a lot of features, and it can be clunky to use. Many believe it’s primarily useful for messaging, but enterprises need more robust features from an internal-communication app. Additionally, privacy advocates have their concerns because it requires a phone number to be associated with the account. Additionally, any contacts that are already using the app get a notification when one of their contacts signs up for Signal, which strikes many as a privacy issue. Enterprises simply can’t afford to have this type of unsecured platform as part of their communications. Similarly, using WhatsApp across devices is difficult. It may be cloud-based, but it requires all data first be sent to your phone. Then, other devices can sync from that. Although it is not end-to-end encrypted by default (you must enable it), Telegram is somewhat better for businesses because it allows customization and lets users access their group chats and messages from any device simultaneously. It also allows direct-to-consumer marketing, similar to emails, by offering companies the capability to send one-way messages to people who sign up for notifications. It’s worth noting, though, that as these free, widely-adopted apps expand their customer base, they become more of a target. For example, a collection of 13 different vulnerabilities was recently discovered in the Telegram apps for both Android and iOS. The vulnerabilities existed in a library that Telegram uses to parse and render animated stickers in chats and created an attack surface for potential remote code execution.Also, these apps are still in their nascent stages without the server capacity to handle huge migrations of large enterprises or government organizations. Already in widespread use across many government agencies, apps like Microsoft Teams offer much more robust options for enterprises, such as file storage, two-factor authentication and voice/video chat. It still lacks in the security arena, however. All in all, many of these solutions are not viable for securing employee communications, leaving their devices vulnerable to intruders. The best solution is a secure messaging app that is end-to-end encrypted.Companies looking to secure their employees’ online activity, devices, and messaging need to seek out innovative solutions. Research is critical for enterprises to understand whether or not their communications and data are as secure as they think. With threats lurking everywhere online, they can’t afford to leave anything to chance. While not the only solution, using encrypted messaging platforms is an important way to secure vital communications and keep employees safe — especially in an era when more and more professionals are working remotely. The SolarWinds hack should be a wake-up call that organizations can never stop innovating.

Join forces to reduce out-of-pocket health spending for Mexicans

The AXA Keralty alliance and the Mexican Hospital Consortium (CMH) make a synergy to offer a comprehensive health system in more than 43 cities in the country.

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March
26, 2021

3 min read

This article was translated from our Spanish edition using AI technologies. Errors may exist due to this process.

Early and timely medical attention is key to prevent the diseases from progressing and this implies a high cost for the population. In Mexico, 49% of the resources allocated to health services come from people’s pockets, according to data from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). In 2020, some serious diseases such as diabetes or cancer -which could be stopped in the early stages with adequate detection- were among the most expensive, exceeding the average cost of 200,000 pesos, according to data from the Mexican Association of Insurance Institutions ( TO MY). For this reason, and with the aim of helping more Mexicans to reduce their out-of-pocket spending on health through primary care, as of February of this year the Mexican Hospital Consortium (CMH) contributes with the amplification of the scope of the health services of the AXA Keralty alliance, by providing the infrastructure of its 45 hospitals located in 43 cities of the country. “In 2019 we created the AXA Keralty alliance, a comprehensive health system through which people can access different quality medical services such as unlimited consultations for general medicine, specialties and studies, according to the contracted plan. This system, based on first contact care, will help you take better care of your health at an affordable price. Our efforts are focused on prevention and seek to reduce out-of-pocket spending on health ”, mentioned its CEO, Alejandro Pérez Galindo. Primary medical care and timely diagnosis are key to reducing serious diseases, which affect the health and economy of Mexican families so much, which is why since August 2019 they have treated more than 70,000 patients in their Medical Attention Centers. and made about 42,000 video consultations. Depositphotos.com For his part, Javier Potes, general director of the CMH, highlighted that the AXA Keralty-CMH scheme is the future of health in Mexico, since it will allow the generation of scales to reduce costs; thus, patients can access private medical care at affordable prices. Some of the cities that AXA Keralty users will access this comprehensive private health system through the CMH are: Guadalajara, Hermosillo, Querétaro, Puebla, Mexicali, Ciudad Juárez, among others. The AXA Keralty alliance will continue with its investment plan of 120 million dollars for 2024 and the new alliance with the CMH will allow it to have 51 primary care points for health care.

Coming To The Market – Why The Amazon Marketplace Is Attracting U.K. Equity Investment

If you’re anything like me,  you purchase goods through the Amazon website without giving too much thought about who sends the products. Do they come direct from Amazon?  Are they supplied by the upwards of one million businesses that sell via the company’s marketplace? Usually, I don’t care as long as the shipments arrive promptly and in good condition courtesy of Amazon’s fulfillment operation.   

But what we’re really talking about here is an ecosystem of individual ventures – many of them very successful – that benefit from a symbiotic relationship with the Bezos behemoth. They register, upload their listings and, in return,Amazon handles everything from VAT  to customer payment. The advantage is that it’s a simple way to get products into the hands of consumers. The possible disadvantage – at least in terms of companies that don’t sell in parallel from their own websites –  is that each business sits under the umbrella of a much bigger and powerful brand. The success of Amazon sellers – and by extension their value – is arguably under-publicized. 
But the marketplace is being watched carefully by a growing list of acquirers seeking to buy out high-performing businesses.  Here in the UK, Heroes, Scythia, Mothership, Excite Foundry, and Diverge Group, are among those active in the market. 

So what’s the appeal of the Amazon market to investors and why might a successful founder be interested in a buyout offer? One relatively new acquirer is Olsam.  Founded by brothers, Sam and Ollie and Horbye, the company applies a private equity investment model to investment in  successful  Amazon Marketplace businesses. Now a year old, Olsam has to date completed six deals and aims to do a lot more in the months and years ahead.

Why Amazon?
In many respects,  it’s a typical private equity play. You take a company with a proven track record, buy out the owner – who may but usually doesn’t remain closely involved – and use your in-house expertise to step things up a gear. But why focus on Amazon Marketplace businesses? 

As it turns out, the answer to that question lies partly in the career histories of the two brothers. Ollie Horbye comes from a private equity background, having worked with Alvarez & Marsal prior to setting up Olsam. Meanwhile, Sam pursued an e-commerce career that included working with a number of marketplace businesses and scaling his own venture, Beechmore Books. From this dual perspective, Olsam was born.  “We had complementary skill sets,” explains Ollie.   
Based in the U.K. Olsam starts by identifying buyout candidates. “We start by putting ourselves in the consumer’s shoes,” says Ollie. “We ask which companies are the best. What are their ratings? What is the quality of the brand? Then we look at the financials. We have the Amazon metrics.”   
Using all this external information, Olsam applies its own in-house tool to pinpoint category leaders within the marketplace ecosystem. After that, it’s a case of contacting founders or owners and opening a dialogue.   
Heading for The Exit
That begs the question of why a business owner who has – in the view of Olsam – secured a category leadership position entertain an approach and possible offer from a relatively new private equity business?   
“There are various reasons for an exit,” says Sam Horbye. “In some cases, a founder might want to start another venture. In others, owners see an opportunity – through us – to take the brand to the next level. The brand is their baby. The important thing for them is selling to someone who will continue the growth story.” 
So why would Olsam be better positioned to grow an Amazon business?  The Horbye brothers see the answer to that question in terms of skills. “Owners are great at different things,” says Sam. “For instance, one owner might be great at marketing and pay per click advertising while struggling to manage the supply chain.”  Olsam’s selling point is that it has an operational team that covers all the bases.   
The deal structure on offer is fairly standard – an upfront payment followed by an earn-out period. Founders usually leave the business after an agreed time. “Generally, they prefer to be bought out completely. They don’t want to hang around as employees,” says Sam. However, Olsam will consider partnership arrangements.  
Across the six buyouts thus far, deal sizes have ranged from between £1 million and £3 million. The company says it is prepared to consider larger and smaller deals but at the moment that’s the ballpark.  As acquirers, they are reluctant to name the individual businesses, but categories include travel, kitchenware, and sport. As this goes to press, the company is seeking further finance to expand its acquisition program. 
For founders, the presence of specialist acquirers – also known as aggregators -represents an exit opportunity. As always, these things have to be handled with care. With a number of players operating in the market, it’s a case of finding the buyer that offers the best deal for the seller and also a promising future for the brand itself.

How a Childhood Incident Created His Unhealthy Drive for Success

March
26, 2021

9 min read

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

What is your idea of success? Is it having tons of money in the bank? Respect from your family, friends, and peers? Or is it the freedom to live the life that you’ve always wanted?Like most people, John Lee Dumas always thought that the way to become successful was through financial independence. However, the more he chased money, the less successful and satisfied he felt. It wasn’t until he made a significant mindset shift that his life took a pivotal turn. By taking money out of the equation, Dumas was able to see the bigger picture and create a business and life that he truly loves. Today his award-winning podcast and website Entrepreneurs on Fire consistently brings in six-figures a month and helps millions of people find financial freedom and fulfillment.Related: The 10 Commandments of Podcasting A Childhood Incident Leaves an Indelible MarkDumas had what most would consider an ordinary childhood. He grew up in a small town in Maine where his father was one of three lawyers, and his mother was a stay-at-home mom. He got decent grades, played sports, and led a generally sheltered life. However, one jarring incident would change how he viewed himself and shape his relationship with money for years to come.“One night when I was about eight or nine years old, my Dad called me downstairs. He was sitting at the table doing his taxes, and he was not in a good mood. He made me sit down and look at all the paperwork, and he said, ‘Look at how much money you’re costing me.’Prior to that, I had no concept of money or the fact that I could be a burden on my parents. I didn’t realize the stress it caused them to keep me alive. So I developed this mentality of constantly trying to be financially independent so that I wouldn’t be a burden on my family. This attitude would lead to a series of bad decisions.” The Search for Financial IndependenceAfter graduating from high school, Dumas applied for an ROTC military scholarship so that his parents wouldn’t have to foot the bill for his education. He spent four years at Providence College knowing that he would have to participate in military service after his program finished. Dumas was in his senior year when the September 11 attacks took place.“I was going to be an officer in the army in six months, and it just went from peacetime to war,” says Dumas. “A year later, I was in Iraq commanding a tank platoon with four tanks and 16 men. Only 12 of us made it back. It was incredibly traumatic. Here I was getting shot at and dealing with death, and to think it can all be traced back to me just wanting to get a scholarship and not be a burden on my family.”Dumas finished his active duty at the age of 26 and entered what he calls ‘six years of struggle.’ He still had deeply ingrained ideas of what he thought success was. He began seeking out jobs that would earn him a lot of money but found that each one only made him more miserable than the last. It also didn’t help that he was dealing with PTSD.“At first, I tried to follow in my dad’s footsteps, so I applied to and got accepted into law school,” says Dumas. “I thought that everyone in my family would be proud that I was in law school. People like to brag about stuff like that. But the PTSD made it difficult to focus so that I couldn’t do the work. I eventually dropped out after one semester.”After dropping out of law school, Dumas tried his hand at corporate finance in Boston. He lasted 18 months before deciding the environment was just too toxic. He then joined a tech start-up in New York City but also hated the job. In San Diego, he started working in commercial real estate, and it was during this time that he had an epiphany.Related: The 4 x 4 Financial Independence Plan for Entrepreneurs A Defining MomentDumas’ job as a commercial broker required him to spend a large part of the day driving, so he started listening to podcasts and audiobooks to ease the boredom. Although he was making money, he felt unmotivated by life in general, so he began listening to stories about innovative entrepreneurs and other inspiring people.“I’ll never forget one quote I heard on a podcast,” he says. “I was 32 years old, and it changed my life. An Albert Einstein quote said, ‘Try not to become a person of success, but rather a person of value.’ I had never thought about life that way.“I looked in the mirror and asked myself, ‘What have you done over the past six years that’s been of value to anyone?’ The answer was nothing. I was doing everything for myself. That day I told myself I was quitting my job. I didn’t know what I was going to do, but I did know that the only requirement was it had to be something of value.” Creating Financial Freedom and FulfillmentOn a mission to make meaningful change, Dumas started devouring podcasts featuring interviews with entrepreneurs. In fact, he devoured so much content that he began running out of episodes on many podcasts. “I wanted to hear inspiring content every day, so I searched for a podcast that had daily interviews with entrepreneurs. I couldn’t find one anywhere,” Dumas says. “I couldn’t believe there were daily sports podcasts and whatnot, but none that interviewed successful entrepreneurs every day. It just didn’t exist. I decided to change that.“I knew I was going to suck at first, but I was willing to put in the hard work. I hired mentors, and they emphatically told me the venture would fail. My attitude was ‘challenge accepted.’ If the best people in the industry were telling me it couldn’t be done, and I could find a way to do it, think of the opportunity there. That excited me. It also met my requirements to stop chasing success and become a person of value.”Dumas’ plan was simple: create free, valuable, and consistent content that would inspire people just like the interviews he had listened to had inspired him. He launched Entrepreneurs on Fire in Sept 2012, and within just a few months, he had logged hundreds of interviews and was becoming an authority figure and influencer in the industry.As the podcast and website grew in popularity, people began asking Dumas how they could do the same thing, so he created a course teaching people how to start, grow and monetize their own podcasts. That month Entrepreneurs on Fire made its first $100,000. Since then, the business has consistently earned seven figures every year. Related: 4 Simple Steps to Reaching Financial Independence and Retiring Early Success to SignificanceEven though the money was rolling in and Dumas was putting something of value out into the world, he still felt like there was something missing. An interview with Aaron Walker, life coach and founder of View from the Top, made him realize what that was. “Aaron talked about how he became financially independent at a young age, but how that actually became a negative for him,” says Dumas. “He had all this money, but it didn’t make him feel fulfilled, so he asked himself how he could go from success to significance. Since 2015, that has been my mentality.”Dumas began thinking about how he could share his success with others in a significant way. He got involved in philanthropy, donating thousands of dollars to organizations like Pencils of Promise, a non-profit that builds schools in developing countries. In 2016, Dumas and his fiance Kate moved to Puerto Rico, where they now run the business together. He managed to scale his life back so that he only works hard for about five days a month, and the rest of the time, he can run on autopilot. Instead of massively scaling the business, he and Kate have decided that what they earn is more than enough.Adding value to the world has always been at the forefront of Dumas’ business model, which is why he continues to find new ways to inspire and help people. His first traditionally published book is The Common Path to Uncommon Success, a book that teaches people how to find their big idea so that they can create financial freedom and design the lives they deserve.  Dumas based the teachings in this book off a decade of interviewing over 3,000 of the world’s most successful entrepreneurs.“After years of searching and struggle, I’ve finally been able to define what success is for me,” says Dumas. “I’m living in my zone of fire, doing something that lights me up and excites me every day. In doing so, I’ve designed the life that I want. The problem with most people is they never identify what their version of success looks like. Dumas doesn’t think that his story is particularly remarkable. Instead, he believes that anyone can create a successful business by combining passion and expertise.“There is a buried opportunity in everyone that can be unleashed to achieve the financial independence and the fulfillment you desire. You need to know where to start. Once you do, it’s a really powerful journey. You might stumble on the way, but as long as you stay true to that zone of fire, you’ll continue adding value to the world and you can’t go wrong.”

Should You Put Your Money Into PR or Marketing?

March
26, 2021

4 min read

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

As President of a public relations firm for the past decade, potential clients always come to me and ask the same question: “Do I need PR or marketing?” Before I can answer, the next question is: “What is the difference between PR and marketing?”I appreciate the follow-up question because it’s the best way to breakdown the answer to the precursor.When it comes to marketing, think of it as paying to play; you hire someone to place your company, brand, or product in an ad. Whether that ad is on Facebook or Instagram, on a billboard or in a newspaper, the marketer can provide you with a tangible number of returns. So, say you allot $10,000 for a marketing budget, the firm will be able to estimate your exact impressions / targets, which gives brands a lot of confidence. Whereas with PR, you can’t really put a price (beyond a retainer amount) on it, and the exact impressions/targets can be a mix of both instant and long term.Related: Should You Start With PR or Marketing First?PR, or public relations, is all about brand awareness, or in the case of a campaign like a marketing ad, the story behind the actual ad; It is what engages and turns potential customers into a long-term following through brand awareness and brand engagement. Think about it logically, what do you do when you see an ad? For most of us, we’re exposed to ads when we’re using social media; if the ad stands out enough in the monotony of our daily scroll, we click on it. What happens next? We seek out the story — What is this brand? Who is this brand? Why is this brand different? What’s the background? How does this connect/relate to me? This information can be the difference in turning a curious consumer into an active customer, leading me to my next point: an ad is relatively worthless without context or credibility behind it. Related: Want to Do a Public Relations Push? Focus on Social Media FirstThis is why I will often say there are pros and cons to both marketing and public relations, and if you have the budget, both of them can work together. However, if you don’t have the budget, it’s always better to spend money on public relations first because you need to create your brand (story) before spending your dollars on marketing. I’ll say it again if you don’t have a good, yet alone, compelling story, then you have nothing to market that will bring you a reasonable return. In a recent conversation I had with Jordan Belfort, aka the Wolf of Wall Street, he echoed this sentiment when he described the power of using PR and marketing in tandem. “The two are very powerful when they’re used together — PR to help build your brand, position you the right way as an expert, a leader, an influencer in your field and then follow that up by aggressive marketing tactics to really get your message in front of the right people and have them do something with that, whether that’s click on a link or opt-in.” In this conversation, Belfort also mentioned how “PR is free” while “marketing is something that you pay for.” To break this down, a client still pays for PR, but the exposure is free, and this can sometimes complicate a PR firm’s ability to place a hard number on the returns of your spending. Sure, someone can learn about your product through an article. They might buy the product causing immediate gratification, but if it’s a digital article, we’re also increasing SEO, which increases traffic to your website, and in the long run, will provide more returns as people search keywords, your brand’s credibility, etc., etc.. Related: Are You Wasting Your Money on PR?Marketing, on the other hand, has a time frame on it. It’s almost qualitative. If an established company came to me and already had the exposure and is known publicly, I’d recommend a marketing campaign for a quick boost to whatever they want to push out, rather than a whole PR campaign. To summarize this all, I’ll leave you with the differences between PR and marketing at a very basic level: Marketing is a quick spend for a direct result that is more easily measured. PR is an investment for a mixture of both short and long-term success.