You could say I was at a disadvantage when I launched my company as a side hustle. I had zero business experience or connections, and I knew nothing about the market I was entering. It was poor timing too, as I was juggling my business alongside a full-time job as an engineer.

But with a creative approach, you can turn disadvantages into big assets. It's how I was able to grow a seven-figure company from the ground up-- while working full-time in corporate. When you're clear on your goals and you're relentless in your pursuit, you'll find the harder path cultivates the resourcefulness and mindsets you need to succeed.

That said, here's how to turn your struggles into your greatest assets.

1. Spark creativity and resourcefulness while funding.

We've all heard the saying it takes money to make money. If you don't have any, use this as a chance to stretch yourself and get resourceful.

I did everything I could think of to ensure sufficient funding when starting out and made it a mission to never go out of stock. I had a steady paycheck, which gave me the freedom to reinvest all profits back into the business. I also borrowed against my 401K, negotiated better payment terms with suppliers, and opened multiple lines of credit at banks.

If you can't do the above, consider crowdfunding as a creative way to fund your business. The SELF Journal by BestSelf Co started life this way-- it's my go-to productivity and performance planner and it raised over $320k on Kickstarter back in 2015. It's a perfect example of turning a need for funding into a source for building a product with customers excited to be a part of your story from the get-go

2. Beat the competition and become unique.

When starting a business, it doesn't pay to enter a niche with no competition. Minimal competition suggests there's minimal consumer need for your products-- and that won't translate into healthy sales figures.

Instead, look for a market that's popular and proven and find a niche within that market that you can dominate.

My market research helped me feel confident that coffee was a good choice. I poured over trend data on Google Trends, product searches on Amazon, customer feedback (especially the negative reviews), and what products were being funded on crowdfunding platforms (like Kickstarter).

Once I completed my research, it was clear that all equipment which served the specialty coffee market had massive potential-- particularly if they were competitively priced. With the right product, niche, and market chosen, you can leverage Amazon's huge customer base to make profitable sales.

3. Foster a larger audience by being patient and persistent.

Being one of many in a sea of Amazon businesses means breaking through may take time. Release the desire for instant gratification or success, and instead focus on creating a great product.

You might find yourself feeling defeated if you compare your day one to someone else's year 11. Instead, use this discrepancy as fuel and inspiration to drive your business forward. Dedicate yourself, and your business, to becoming better every day. In time, you'll grow your customer base and profits. Believe me, the success will be well worth it when you're willing to commit!

I've always looked at obstacles as exciting challenges to push myself. I attribute this mindset as one of the main reasons we grew as quickly as we did. It's why the journey of entrepreneurship is not defined by dollars earned alone, but by who you become along the way.

Published on: May 9, 2019
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