ultimate guide to starting your business
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Amazing Guide To Starting Your Own Business (2020 Edition)

Live the life you deserve by becoming who you should be. The world is changing rapidly, and having your own online business gives you the flexibility to work when and where you want, and spend time with your hobbies, friends and family.

ultimate guide to starting your business

Starting your own business is tough work. Nobody believes you can do it at the start, but it’s possible. I know, because I did it, and I want to show you how.

Everyone has been distracted by the businesses that the unicorn startups have created. I’m talking about Uber, AirBnB, Spotify, Facebook, WhatsApp, Dropbox, and so on. But these aren’t the kinds of businesses that you need to create at the start.

Starting Your Own Business Well

Solve people’s problems, that’s how you start building a business that’s valuable.

I will show you how you need very little money and time to start and build an online business. Thousands of people will be happy to pay you, because you will be solving their problems. Starting a businesses isn’t as difficult as you think.

The thing is, this can be anyone. You don’t need anything special to do this. I’ve done so, and through my personal experience and knowledge of what works and what doesn’t, you will see that it’s possible too.

Who Should Read This Guide

Not everyone will benefit from this! This is not a magical guide. If you believe that you can get rich quick, then this isn’t for you. Instead of getting rich quick, what I’m going to do is to show you what it takes to starting your own business that you can be proud of.

I’ve had over 17 years of entrepreneurship experience running 8-figure businesses, and this is what you will be learning business strategies and lessons from.

Being Authentic and Providing Value

Give And You Will Receive

You can find thousands of people promising that they’ll help you get rich quick. How many of them actually have gone through the process of starting a business, growing it, and then exiting? It’s dangerous not doing anything, but it’s downright precarious following the wrong advice.

I’ll show you how you actually need to be authentic, true to yourself, deliberate, and systematic in order to provide great value to people who truly need it – without being scammy.

How To Have The Right Mindsets To Start Your Own Business

The difference between a successful entrepreneur and one who gives up is typically just a matter of mindset. Skills, passion, and talent only play a small part in determining whether or not you succeed in starting your own business. Sometimes a gifted programmer, designer, or engineer may just be making ends meet, while another who might not be as skilful becomes a successful entrepreneur.

Here are 5 mindsets that all successful entrepreneurs share.

#1. Have A Real Vision

Money is absolutely necessary, but it shouldn’t be the main focus of why you want to start a business. For a business to succeed, you need to provide value to people. Why does your business exist?

#2. Be Always Growing

Confucius was a very well-known Chinese philosopher and politician. One of the things that he was adamant about was the concept of lifelong learning. Confucius believed that lifelong learning was necessary for self-knowledge and self-improvement.

It is this mindset that will always keep you grounded and always searching for new and better ways of bettering yourself, helping the people around you, and improving your business.

#3. Think Positive

The journey for an entrepreneur is long and fraught with obstacles. I’ve had so many failures while I was building my business that I’ve gotten so comfortable with failing. Failing was just another way that didn’t work, and brought me one step closer to success.

When you’re starting your own business, you’ll need to be able to think positively, and not let failures bring you down as well.

#4. Finish What You Start

We all go through and experience motivation’s ebb and flow. What differentiates someone who will taste success and one who doesn’t is typically persistence. Choose your goals wisely, and once you’ve made your choice, commit to seeing your goal to the very end.

This is no different when you’re starting your own business.

#5. Be Comfortable With Yourself

Your clients, your employees, and your partners will not believe you nor will they trust you if you aren’t even comfortable in your own skin. You need to understand yourself, which includes your strengths and your weaknesses.

The person who is comfortable with himself has the freedom to work on problems outside of himself. Not to mention, have a lot of fun on the journey as a result.

Learn How To Start Your Own Business Without Much Capital

Be Authentic and Provide Real Value

The conventional route is popular. A lot of my peers go through the same path of graduating, finding a job, and changing jobs/employers every few years. In the process, a lot of them get burnt out and frustrated.

However, there are alternatives which become so much easier in this information economy. A lot of us don’t realise it, but we all have interests and passions that people want to learn about. Technology has progressed so far that you can be starting your own business with just a website and start reaching out to thousands of people. And these people will be willing to pay you for the knowledge that you have and services that you can provide.

It’s no different from people paying for a personal trainer or a personal chef. Or the people who pay for tuition and classes. All these people are paying for knowledge, and this is the knowledge that you can provide.

Finding Business Ideas

With just $100, you can start your own business providing products and services to people. Here are just some examples of what people are willing to pay for. This list can go on and on. You’ll find that you can design your business to suit your needs – depending on how much flexibility and freedom you desire from it.

Do you know your city very well? Do you travel a lot? Help with tips and tricks to travel to your city or country. Help others with their itinerary planning. (See: LittleThingsTravel.com)

Do you love Disneyland? Some families go to Disneyland only once in their lives, or only have a fixed amount of time that they can spend at Disneyland. Help people with tricks and tips on how to maximise their Disneyland experiences. (See: DisneyTouristBlog.com)

Do you cook? What are your favorite recipes? How can someone save time or eat healthy by cooking? (See: SmittenKitchen.com)

Do you know games that you can play with your kids? This family blogged about their whole journey of finding family-friendly games so that they could play together as a family, and now they’ve got a popular blog. (See: TheFamilyGamers.com/)

Do you know a language? Help others learn it, with the tips and tricks that you’ve known from years of speaking it. (See: English-Grammar-Revolution.com)

What’s Your Idea?

How To Hit Your First Goal of $30,000/year

One of the excuses that people give whenever they think of businesses is that they don’t know how to generate revenue. They think of big businesses, businesses that do $50,000/year, $100,000/year, $500,000/year, or even $1,000,000/year, and they get discouraged.

But that’s just an excuse because they don’t know how to comprehend these numbers properly. It’s not their problem, humans are known to have difficulties comprehending large numbers. The trick is to break a large number down into something comprehensible.

How much is a significant income to show you that a business is profitable? Maybe $2,500/month? That’s $30,000/year. Let’s break it down and show you how possible this is.

For example, if you love cooking, you can come up with a PDF ebook on your top 30 easy-to-cook recipes for the family, and you can price this at $25. Depending on what you do, this can be an ebook, a service, whatever. If you sell a $25 product and make just 4 sales a month, you’ll get $1,200/year.

The thing is, when you get 4 sales a month, it’ll be no time before you get 20 sales. You’d be hustling to make it happen. 20 sales a month is just 5 sales a week. That will net you $12,000/year.

Once you have this traction, you can further increase your revenue by creating more products. If you had an ebook, maybe you can look at creating a video course or a coaching program. For example, if you work out, you can create a video guide on the exact steps that people need to follow in order to change their physiques. This will be priced much higher, at maybe $250 a sale. You’d get fewer customers, but you get much more per sale. Just 6 of these a month will result in $1,500/month, or $18,000/year.

20 sales of a $25 product every month = $12,000/year

6 sales of a $250 product every month = $18,000/year

And that’s how you’d be making a total revenue of $30,000/year. When your business is at this stage, the choice is yours as to whether or not to scale it up further, or to just keep it at this level.

Having People Pay For Value

Sales isn’t a bad word.

People have the misconception that selling, especially to friends, is a practice that is frowned upon. However, real selling isn’t pushy nor scammy. In fact, people will be happy to pay you for the value that you’re creating.

To do so, you have to first of all clearly state and explain what you’re going to be selling. Next, you can get testimonials from satisfied customers. No customers? Provide a review copy to someone in exchange for a testimonial. Lastly, it’s important to provide a money-back guarantee so that your customers know that they can buy from you without risk.

However, it’s critical that you realise that to have someone appreciate the value that you’re getting, you shouldn’t be giving it away for free. I’ve learnt over the years as an entrepreneur that if people don’t pay, they just won’t value your product or service.

Starting Your Own Business With A Good Business Idea

Finding a profitable business idea is not difficult, no matter what skills or credentials you have.

One of the biggest hurdles that people face when they want to be starting their own business is to come up with a business idea. People tend to think of moonshots, such as the next Uber,  AirBnB, Twitter, or even Google. However, because the scale is so huge, they end up freezing or going around in circles, and never getting anywhere.

That’s why I always tell would-be entrepreneurs to just think realistic, and start small. I use a framework that I developed called the “5P Framework” to help you identify and come up with business ideas that are personalised and useful when starting your own business.

The 5Ps are: Passions, Phobias, Problems, Pains, Proficiencies

5P Framework to finding business ideas

#1. Passions

All of us have things that we are passionate about. It’s this passion that can help drive us to do more, motivate us to get up early, and sacrifice our time for. For example, if you love reading, you might be able to teach people how to read fast, or even provide book summaries as a service.

#2. Phobias

Fear is a very strong motivator. Knowing what fears people have can help you come up with a business idea. For example, some common phobias are with public speaking or with dating the opposite sex. If you have a great strategy to deal with this, or if you have a personal story overcoming any of these phobias, you might just have a business idea.

#3. Problems

Whenever we go in our lives, there are bound to be problems. Perhaps it’s something that you face in your workplace or at home. For instance, maybe you know that a lot of people in your neighbourhood are clamouring for healthy home-cooked meals. That could be a viable business idea where you cook and provide meals on a daily basis, and then scale the business up from there.

#4. Pains

We all have pains that we face in our lives. Perhaps it’s snoring, or a chronic headache, or indigestion. Whatever it is, maybe it’s something that you’ve managed to overcome. Now that’s a great business idea when starting your own business, because so many other people suffering from it would be interested in it as well.

#5. Proficiencies

Everyone is proficient at something. Maybe you’re really good at Microsoft Excel, or at the violin, or at some enterprise software. People would love to know how to get to that level of proficiency, and how to do it fast. This can be a business where you teach them precisely that, and help them bypass all the obstacles that you faced when you were learning.

Tech Tools

Discover what tech tools you need to be starting your own business.

A lot of people have the mindset that technology is scary. They’re intimidated by it, but it’s mostly because they don’t understand technology. It turns out technology isn’t that difficult to grasp, and this is because technology has advanced so much that it is infinitely easier today than it was when I first started my first business in 2002.

While you can go crazy and get all kinds of fancy technologies and tools, there are really just a few that you need to get started. I highly recommend these as I’m actually using them myself.

Content Management System: WordPress.org

There’s a reason why WordPress powers over 25% of the world’s websites. It’s fast, easy-to-use, and powerful – not to mention, free. Check it out

Web Hosting: SiteGround.com

If you want a website, you’ll need web hosting and a domain name. While there are many web hosting companies around, I use and recommend SiteGround. Check it out

Sitebuilder: Elementor

WordPress has a good built-in WYSIWYG editor named Gutenburg, but to truly get a nice website the way you want it, and quickly, you have to try Elementor. Check it out

Marketing System: MailerLite

Once you have a business going, you need a way to stay in touch with your tribe. MailerLite provides an affordable email platform that allows you to not just build a subscriber list, but to have comprehensive tracking and analytics too. Check it out

Grow Your Business

These are the first steps that you can take to be starting your own business. Do them all, and when you have your own business, then focus on growing it. Leave me feedback or questions in the comments below.

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Letting Tasks Go So That You Can Get More Done
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19 Reasons Why You Don’t Need a Great Business Idea To Succeed

People generally have 2 issues that prevent them from starting their business: finding a great business idea, and not knowing if their business idea is good enough. Is a great business idea really necessary to succeed though?

I’ve heard from a lot of people that they don’t know whether their business idea is great enough, and it’s one of the bigger problems that they face when starting a business. In fact, it’s so paralysing that it prevents them from actually moving forward. Well, it doesn’t have to be the case.

Great Business Idea

First of all the good news: No one knows when an idea will be a great business idea. And even if it is a great business idea, you might not have a great team or your execution might be off. These are much more important components to scale up your business, and in a CBInsight study that surveyed 101 startup failure post-mortems, startups faced at least 19 other reasons why they failed. So there’s a lot of variables in determining whether a business succeeds, and it’s not just dependent on the business idea.

Now the bad news: while not having a great business idea isn’t the deal-breaker for businesses, there must also be a certain level of hygiene. It doesn’t mean that any business idea will cut it. You’ll still need to make sure that your idea makes sense. What do I mean by that, and how do you know if an idea makes sense? To me, a great business idea typically has a few components: 1) Target Audience, 2) Unique Selling Point, and 3) Profitability.

1. Target Audience

This is an idea of who your ideal buyer demographic is. Let me give you an example: If you’re selling pants, targeting males and females from the age of 6 years old to 80 years old might seem like a really good idea to you, because you know that all these people can potentially buy pants. After all, the more, the merrier, isn’t it?

Here’s the thing though: it’s actually a really terrible way because it’s such a broad range that you don’t have a focus at all. When you don’t have a focus, you’re not remarkable at all to your target market. You’ll become invisible to them, and there’s no reason for them to choose to buy from you over anybody else.

If I were to sell pants, I would make sure that I have a very specific set of people that I want to appeal to. If I target the mass majority, there are so many different kinds of people that I’m going to face a whole myriad of varying preferences.

Think about it: people who are 6 to 80 years old will like pants that are skinny, baggy, made of denim, made of cotton, and so on. It’s a mind-boggling amount of options to cater for, so that’s not a demographic that I want to target when I first start my pants business.

What I’d do is to find some targeted segment – say, fashion-conscious young males from 20-years-old to 35-years-old who have an office job and go to the gym. That’s a very specific market, and you know that when you speak to this group of people, you can have a very targeted message to them because you know who they are, what they’re going through, what they look out for, what is important to them, and so on.

And this leads us to our next point.

2. Unique Selling Point

If your plan was to sell pants that look good at a good price, then I think it isn’t a very good business idea. There’s nothing that differentiates you from another competitor. Almost every company that is selling slacks, jeans, and all other kinds of pants have a plan that fits that description. What is going to be your unique selling point that makes you stand out from all these people?

A much better differentiation is to identify the needs of your target audience. For example, let’s go back to our target audience of fashion-conscious young males who have an office job and go to the gym. If you’re targeting this group of people, then perhaps your differentiation is good-looking pants, tailored to the wearer’s exact dimensions, that uses a material that supports someone’s active lifestyle. You’re not going to want to have baggy bags made out of denim, you’re going to want breathable, stretchy material that won’t look out of place in an office. This creates a difference for your business and sets you apart from most other people who sell pants.

This is known as your business’ unique selling point. This is especially important when you consider the next component of a great business idea.

3. Profitability

The third factor to consider is profitability. The price that you sell your products for must be something that people are willing to pay for. At that price, it must also be profitable for you, after deducting all your expenses. The market will not pay more for something that they can get cheaper elsewhere for the same perceived value. That’s why a unique selling point is so crucial.

If you’re selling a commodity, then people have a certain threshold of how much they’re willing to pay. The only way that you can command a premium is if people obtain a corresponding increase in value. A great example of market pricing is what happened with mobile phones. When Nokia sold its phones, people had a price point that they were comfortable with, which was around $500 per phone. However, Apple has since then completely revolutionised the market and introduced smartphones. And people were willing to pay a lot more for smartphones. These days, smartphones go for more than $2000.

Make sure that the market would be willing to pay the price that you’re going to need in order for your business to be profitable. Otherwise, your business will not survive.

Do You Have A Great Business Idea?

While you don’t need to have a great business idea, you do need to take note of these 3 components in order to ensure that your business has a good chance of succeeding. If you have your customer in mind, this is much easier to achieve. Find out exactly what their pain points are and provide a solution to a real existing problem, and you’ll have a much higher chance of success.

Make sure you also check out my free guide for you that talks about how you can start a successful business, or find out how you can find a good business idea.

Let’s continue to have discussions through the comment section down below. I’d love to hear your thoughts and answer any questions that you might have.

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Letting Tasks Go So That You Can Get More Done
Work

The Jaw-dropping Secret Method To Get More Done In Less Time As Used By Over 95% of Successful Entrepreneurs

Everyone wants to get more done in less time, but it’s easier said than done. The secret method to get more done in less time is ridiculously simple: do less. This is even more important when you’re a business owner or entrepreneur, and you’re looking to scale up your business.

One of the biggest mind-blocks that I had to overcome as an entrepreneur was how I needed to shift tasks away from myself. Coming from a background where it was continually told to me that hard work is valued, it was difficult letting work go and even tougher getting other people to do it. However, this is necessary, especially when you’re running a business or leading a team.

The idea behind shifting work away isn’t to slack off but to allow yourself to focus your time and efforts on higher-value tasks, and tasks that are unique to your skillset. This allows you to focus on your growth, to work on the projects that matter, to reduce stress and increase happiness.

You can shift work away through delegation to other people, or better yet, through automation. A lot of the tasks that we do on a daily basis can be automated. Even better though, is to have tasks completely removed.

Get More Done In Less Time By Delegating Tasks To Other People

Not everyone is an entrepreneur or a manager of a team, but everyone can still benefit from delegation. Delegation can be as simple as getting a gardener to help with your lawn, or a housekeeper to help with tidying up the house. The math works out, and it is especially apparent if you are a freelancer who charges per hour. If your hourly rate is $100, and you can get a housekeeper for $20, then it makes sense for you to just get someone to help you with the household chores, because that means you can make $80 in that hour instead.

The problem is deciding what to do with the time that you save. If you’re getting household help and then spending your new-found free time on low-value, low-happiness, low-satisfaction tasks like consuming social media, then it might not be that worthwhile for you to delegate.

Get More Done In Less Time By Automating Tasks

The Jaw-dropping Secret Method To Get More Done In Less Time

Some tasks can be automated so that you don’t spend that much time on them anymore. The key is knowing how to break tasks down into smaller, easily processed chunks. Here are some examples.

My email account is something that I have to check on a daily basis. Do you find yourself manually filtering your emails that come in? Set a rule to filter them into specific folders/labels, so that emails that you frequently receive are automatically sorted for you.

That’s email, but what about physical mail? Do you find yourself receiving physical statements and bills? I remember how I’d have to photograph or scan these bills because I wanted to store them. Check to see if you can opt for electronic versions, or if your service provider has a mobile app that allows you to handle them on your mobile phone.

One more thing that I found to be very repetitive was my financial obligations. Do you have to pay bills or get paid every month? I used to dread how much time it took to write and mail off a check, or how I had to drop off checks at a bank. Check to see if automated billing methods exist. Singapore has a GIRO system and the USA has ACH. These methods automate the collection or payment of bills for you.

Think about any other repetitive tasks that you face in your daily life. Chances are that you would be able to find a way to automate that task. For the more adventurous, services like Zapier.com can really help by allowing you to connect apps you use to automate tasks and save time.

Get More Done In Less Time By Removing Tasks

I love automation, but while it is a great way of automatically processing tasks, a better method is if you can completely remove tasks instead. A lot of the tasks that we do are a result of willingly introducing them into our lives, but sometimes it doesn’t have to be the case.

I’m going to tell you about my life and my choices, which may seem extreme to some of you. However, I hope it just shows you a different perspective and what’s possible, and maybe you can take something away from it. Figuring out these choices and then deciding to remove them have made my life that much easier and stress-free, and it is something that I would highly recommend.

I had watches that I bought, not because I had a burning passion for watches, but because I thought that they were beautiful and looked nice on my wrist. When I got them, I was initially happy, but I soon realised that watch ownership meant that I had to concern myself with maintenance and repairs.

This was in addition to how I spent countless hours just researching on which watch to buy, and in what colour, and with what accessories. To me, the effort and time that it took for all of this was not worth it. This was the same for other things such as cars or appliances. In the end, when I removed these items from my life, I became much happier and had much more time.

I also realised that I spent time every day thinking about what to wear. I also spent time shopping, and worrying about whether or not something would fit me or be something that I could match with my other clothes. These days, I just buy one kind of socks, one kind of pants, and one kind of t-shirt. They would all be in one particular colour too, so my worries about matching outfits were a thing in the past.

While this might be considered extreme to some, the idea and concept behind it are key. Minimising decisions and removing tasks from your life can be a very stress-relieving activity, and you can start by applying it to a smaller part of your life first. Once you become more comfortable, you can even think about extending it to more areas of your life.

Get More Done In Less Time

Having the mindset of constantly looking for ways to delegate, reduce, or automate tasks can help you significantly increase the amount of focus you can have on things that matter. Before I had this mindset, it was incredibly easy and quick to find my daily life being filled with mundane tasks, which took up mind-space and reduced my ability to work on important projects.

You can start right now by trying to identify something small in your life that can be delegated, automated, or removed. I found that this mindset to constantly optimise was something that I found applicable and helpful for not just my personal life, but also my business and career.

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Become Successful By Having a Personal Masterplan
Life, Work

Plan To Become Successful By Creating A Success Plan With Just 5 Steps

“If you don’t know where you are going any road can take you there”

Lewis Carroll

If you don’t have a plan, then anything goes. That’s exactly why you need a “success plan” in order for you to become successful.

I’ve heard many people say that the opposite of success is failure. That’s not true. In fact, failure is a necessary part of success. Every time you fail at something, you’re finding out another way that doesn’t work, which will ultimately bring you a step closer to finding success.

The opposite of success is not failure. It’s mediocrity. It’s not performing at your full potential and instead, settling on being average. It’s being robbed of your dreams, and following someone else’s instead.

Creating a Success Plan

To be successful and feel gratified, you will need to know what your dreams are and then taking action to make it a reality. This is not what other people want (e.g. popular career choices), or what you feel should be what you want (e.g. safe life choices). Find out what is it that really gets you excited — that’s your dream.

When I started my first business, I had a burning vision of what I needed to do. I’d attribute it to two things that caused this clarity of thought.

The first was that I was very into computers, and I was already designing websites on a freelance basis. Hosting was a necessary part of any website, so I knew first-hand what the problems of the hosting industry were. When I created my hosting business, I specifically targeted these pain points to solve.

Second, I was a broke student whose only choice was USD5/hour part-time jobs. It wasn’t very attractive to me, and I was constantly looking at ways to increase the income that I could have. Running a service-based business was logical, because the risks were low to me, and having projects immediately gave me a huge boost to the income I would otherwise have gotten with a part-time job.

The combination of these two things led me to really want to succeed at providing good web hosting services. The vision was 110% absolutely logical to me. So much so that there was no way I could be doing anything else.

Plan To Become Successful By Creating A Powerful Success Plan

How To Create a Success Plan For Yourself

Over the years, my company’s vision didn’t fade. It did evolve though, to become even stronger and well fleshed-out than what it started off as. It had slowly turned into a success plan. And I attribute most of the success that my company got due to the clarity that a success plan provided. This is something that you can use in your personal life as well. To create a success plan for yourself, you’ll need just 6 things.

Success Plan Basics #1: Know what you want

First of all, you need to know what is it that you’re working towards. A clear goal will provide you with the vision to get there. When dealing with goals, you need to set goals well, i.e. your goals have to be specific and actionable. An example of a bad goal is: “I want to be a successful entrepreneur”. This goal is not specific at all and too vague. An example of a better goal is: “I want to be able to fit into size 32 pants by July next year”, or “I want to have a salary of $10,000 a month in 5 years’ time”.

An example of a goal when I was running my company was: “To be the top Singapore registrar in terms of the number of domain name registrations by 2016”.

Success Plan Basics #2: Block out times

Now that you know what you want in very clearly defined terms, it’s time to take action. Just mindfully forcing yourself to take action every day is very difficult to sustain, and will most likely burn you out.

You’ll need to facilitate this process by making it easy to take action. The way to do this is to block out specific times in your calendar for tasks that you need to do. Think about it: You will block out time to meet up with friends, or for appointments with your doctor or dentist. Why not block out time for yourself?

Do this for anything that you plan to do. It could be a 2-hour block on Tuesday 8:30 pm after you get back from work so that you can work on your website. Or it could be waking up an hour earlier every day so that you can work out.

Success Plan Basics #3: Break Down Your Goals

The second part of a good plan is to break down your large goals into more manageable milestones. You should even come up with a daily to-do list of items that will get you moving towards your milestones.

For example, if you’re running a business and have a goal to hit more than $120,000 in revenue a year, you have got to be able to hit $10,000 in revenue a month first. In order to hit $10,000 a month, you’ll need to figure out the things that you’ll need to be doing on a daily basis to get you there. This to-do list could include things like testing out various marketing channels or improving your sales pitch, or cold-calling more clients a day, or developing your product.

Similarly, if you’re looking at losing 10kg in a year, then you will need a plan to lose a certain weight every month, and in order to do that, you’ll need a plan to control your calories in a day. This plan could involve not eating more than 2000 calories in a day, or skipping breakfast, or not eating past 8pm, and so on.

Success Plan Basics #4: Measure and review your progress

If you don’t know how well you’re doing, then you’re not going to be making the progress that you need. Have a system to measure your progress, and review it regularly – do it in terms of days, weeks, months, and years.

Success Plan Basics #5: Take Action

The key to a successful plan is action. You can have the best plan in the world, but nothing will happen if you don’t act on it. In fact, it’s even better if you have a plan that’s not perfect, but you are able to take action and be continually refining the plan as you go along.

Creating a Success Plan

Creating a success plan for yourself and constantly reviewing it will allow you to see some of the most significant results in your life. I highly recommend this tool to anyone interested in growth in their lives.

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how to start a business
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How to Start a Successful Business With Just $115

How to start a successful business isn’t going to cost you as much as you think you need. Before I started my first business in 2002, I was a freelancer who did website design — which was another way of saying that I was a student trying to make money designing websites for companies. I had no business nor company, but that was a plus point for some businesses. They were willing to work with freelancers like me because we could charge them a lower fee as a result.

There are risks for businesses to work with freelancers though. For instance, unlike a business, which might care more about their business reputation, some freelancers may not be as reliable. Unlike dealing with a business, freelancers might not issue an invoice, so some freelance work might not be seen as a legitimate business expense.

To legitimise the business and to start attracting more customers, I roped in a close classmate of mine and set up a business together with him. However, we were doing the exact same thing that I was doing when I was a freelancer. The difference was that we had a business name to operate under, and a business bank account. That lent us the legitimacy we were looking for.

I didn’t know the terms back then, but this was known as a service-based business. And it is an awesome way to start a business.

How to Start a Successful Business

Low Start-up Capital

Since you don’t have any inventory, staff, nor research, your start-up capital is simply the costs that it takes to register your business.

Depending on where you are, business registration costs will differ. In Singapore, a sole-proprietorship or a partnership costs SGD115 (or USD85) to set up. You’ll need other recommended items, but they’re very affordable as well, and completely optional if you’re tight on finances. Namely, a business bank account, and a domain name with web hosting. If you take up a monthly plan, that should cost you about SGD40 a month to get all of that going.

When we started our business, this was what we did. Once we had everything set up, we created our business website and made ourselves look bigger than we were. We added testimonials from my previous freelance projects, and used a family friend’s office as our office address. Our website was worded as though there was an entire army working in the business, instead of just two students.

Reduced Business Risks

In addition, you drastically reduce your business risks because you don’t have research and development costs, tooling and inventory costs, or manpower costs. You’re basically exchanging your time for money, which means you have a very low on-going burn rate.

This allows you to keep costs extremely low until you get your first client and project. Once you close the deal and deliver, you get paid the full sum. After which, you can roll the revenue into growing your business while you continue working on more projects.

Since we were a couple of broke students, we did whatever we could to market our business for free. To get our first clients as a business, we printed flyers and put them inside business books in public libraries. We spammed online forums and free classified ads. Using the phone directory, we cold-called and cold-emailed businesses who had no websites, or had poorly designed websites. And it worked. Through sheer determination, we found our first few clients this way, and it allowed us to seed the growth of the business.

How to Start a Successful Business Now

If you’re looking at how to start a successful business, then there’s no better time to start than now. A service-based business allows you to skip all the risks that a product-based business has. And if you’ve been saying that you don’t have the entrepreneurial skills to start a business, then these businesses would allow you to learn what you need as you go.

There’s really no better way to learn the proper skills than to get your hands dirty. To run a business on your own, you’ll need to know things like SEO, social media marketing, copy-writing, basic website design, financial accounting, budgeting, and the list goes on. Jump in at the deep end, and learn to be an entrepreneur by actually doing it.

The only bad thing about a service-based business is that you’ll never have the scalability that a product-based business has. However, I wouldn’t worry about how to scale up your business so soon. With all the advantages that it has, a service-based business is an excellent way to start your entrepreneurial journey. If you have a passion or skill with a particular service, consider developing it into a business. And that’s how to start a successful business, right now.

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how to buy sell trade forex pairs
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How To Buy and Sell Forex Pairs

The first currency is the base currency. The second currency is the settlement currency.

E.g. for the USD/SGD pair:

If you wanted to obtain Singapore Dollars (SGD), you would SELL the USD/SGD pair.

If you wanted to obtain United State Dollars (USD), you would BUY the USD/SGD pair.

In forex trading and in brokers such as Interactive Brokers, this would be the way you’d convert from one currency to another.

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Standard Chartered (StanChart SCB) vs Saxo vs Interactive Brokers (IBKR) – Commissions Compared

I’ve been looking at several brokerages that can allow me to start investing through a lazy portfolio in Singapore, and it seems like these 3 brokerages are the most popular:

  1. Standard Chartered (or StanChart / SCB)
  2. Saxo Capital Markets
  3. Interactive Brokers

I’ve created a spreadsheet of the commission charges that these brokerages charge me on ETFs on the London Stock Exchange (LSE), as follows. Note: Saxo has recently increased its commissions for counters on the LSE from a minimum of GBP8 to GBP25. Also, the currencies in the spreadsheet are NOT EQUAL. Even though the ETFs that I’m looking at are based in USD, Saxo is charging commissions based in GBP. StanChart and IBKR are in USD.

SCB vs Saxo vs IBKR

stanchart vs saxo vs interactive brokers commissions cheapest

Conclusion

  • Saxo is really expensive.
  • If you’re planning on making multiple small trades, then StanChart looks to be the cheapest. Especially since they have no minimums.
  • If you’re planning on making bigger trades (above USD3,000 per trade), then Interactive Brokers is going to be MUCH cheaper.

Personally, I have been using Saxo for several months, and they have awesome customer service. Their office is at Raffles Place and anything you need is a phone call away – plus their officers actually follow up on your case. Funding and withdrawal is also same-business-day if you have a HSBC account (Saxo is using HSBC).

However, because I intend to trade more frequently, I decided to setup an Interactive Brokers account, and I’ve been loving them since. Account set up was fast, I can fund the account in SGD and/or USD, and the interface is straight-forward. The best thing is, IBKR has really, really good spot forex rates, unlike what StanChart charges (typically you’ll face around a loss of 1-2% on forex conversion charges).

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