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Serious About Success, Part 2

What is success?

In Part One, I looked at some of the factors I have observed as being vital to success. I’ll continue with these shortly, but first it’s worth examining what actually constitutes ‘success’. If you aren’t able to picture what success means to you, then how can you ever shoot for it? If you want to be ‘bigger than Amazon’, or ‘the world’s best-selling author’, it’s just possible these are unrealistically high goals to set. But success is scalable and once you get this message embedded in your mind, the steps to reach success are definitely achievable. Success is not what other people measure in you, it’s what you assess in meeting your own goals. If you happen to have bought yourself a Lamborghini with your earnings, then this might signal ‘success’ to everyone else, but if your plan was to have a garage full of Lambos, then you may be feeling disappointed!

There is no ‘gold...

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Serious About Success, Part 1

Art or science?

In this first of a two-part article, I want to begin by asking ‘Is success an art, or a science? Can it be both an art and a science?’ I ask these questions because I am very serious about success, and spend a lot of time considering what the ingredients of success are, and how I can pass on this knowledge to startups and young entrepreneurs.
To claim that success comes purely from the scientific application of principles is too simplistic, and anyway if there was a one-size-fits-all recipe available, then everyone would be successful. On the other hand, if being successful is more about having the mystical qualities of a ninja, does that mean retreating to a Tibetan monastery for seven years to learn all the secrets?

Well, in fact it’s a combination of these extremes, but what I’m certain of is that the path to success can indeed be learned, and over the years I have refined the points that I think all successful entrepreneurs embody, and...

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Tools of the trade

It’s obvious that different professions have different tools to accomplish their trade, and we expect professionals to know which tool to use to achieve the right results. Generally we can say that a gardener uses a different set of tools to a brain surgeon, and we might get worried if they swapped tools and continued doing their day job!

In business there are a bunch of very standardized tools that are recognized across most sectors. We all know Powerpoint, Word, and Excel, or different variants of these. Most people have also become aware and able to use social media to communicate their message, and know that it’s no use simply having a brilliant idea if no-one knows about it. So how do you use the available tools within platforms to reach people?

Define your audience

Well the starting point has to a definition of ‘people’. That is, who the heck do you want to reach? Please don’t tell me ‘the whole wide world’, because that will never...

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The magic money tree

You’re dreaming of the success of your startup business. I mean actually dreaming. In your dream a smiling investor hands you a silver suitcase, and when you open it, it’s stuffed with dollar bills. You realize that everything you’ve hoped for your enterprise can now come true. You’re fully capitalized, you’re ready to rock.
And then you wake up.

The suitcase full of money was just a dream, and you start another day facing the prospect of keeping the team going, struggling to get your product perfected, and wondering how and when the huge promise of your business will be recognized and rewarded.
Is that a scenario you know? For very many startup entrepreneurs, it will be familiar territory. You’ve had the great idea, gathered a capable team, and already travelled a long way together. But now you need to take the next giant step, where the idea becomes real. To do that you need money – a lot more money than you can hope to scrape together...

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Standing out from the (small) crowd

You totally want to be different, even if you’re just one lightbulb in a row of other lightbulbs. Your business needs to stand out from the crowd, to be the one with the different angle. You want recognition for your product or service: You want it all, and you want it now. You’d like to be the brightest lamp in the row and have everyone recognize that your company is special. Ideally ‘everyone’ means the whole wide world, but you’re kinda realistic, and you’ll settle for – oh, say half of the 8 billion people on the planet.
These are not realistic goals. Sorry.

Unrealistic goals

Standing out from the enormous, worldwide crowd is a virtual impossibility, and if you think about it for just a few moments you’ll see that this goal is unrealistic. The key to understanding this fact of life comes in always being aware of who your audience is: Are they teenagers, middle-aged, male or female, living in Africa or Europe, tech-savvy,...

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Taking off into the blue

Up there above the clouds, there’s blue sky awaiting our new business venture, and we’re keen to reach the point where we will take off and the enterprise becomes airborne. It’s what we’ve worked on for months, and years, dreaming of the high altitude cruise to success!

The idea of viewing a startup business as an airplane readying for flight provides a good metaphor. You have to know where you’re heading, and have enough fuel to get there, with the right crew onboard, and so on. You also know that the airways are crowded with other flights heading in similar directions, at similar price points, so although you have great hopes for the journey. There’s also some realism about how successful you’ll be.

Success is not optional

But wait a second! If we think a little more about this metaphor, it’s clear that aviation doesn’t dream or hope about being successful. Success is an absolute prerequisite. Success in airline terms means...

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Seasonal About Success

It’s the time of year when we can look back on everything that has happened, and think about lessons learned. We can observe global trends in business and politics, and see how issues such as climate change are now becoming more pressing than ever. It’s been a strange year in many ways, but perhaps people have always made that observation, whatever century they were living in!

I am very serious about helping startup businesses succeed, and this year has seen further developments that I’m proud to have been part of, and I’m happy to have been involved with several outstanding new projects. These include a startup in Florida, created by a young and enthusiastic guy who has gathered a great team around him, and – I believe – is going to make a significant market entry in the coming year. Watch out for Briefcard.

Then there’s a US-based blockchain-enabled investment club called Bitdollar that I have been advising, which brings unique new...

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I’m dreaming of a White… Paper

It’s the time of year when in many countries around the world people are thinking of taking a break, and spending time with family and friends. The airwaves are full of seasonal songs, perhaps most of all being ‘White Christmas’. It will be playing in shopping malls around the world almost irrespective of whether Christmas is being celebrated in a particular country. However, what I’m dreaming of is a White… Paper.

The term White Paper is associated with the document created by many online businesses, particularly those in the cryptosphere to introduce the enterprise to the world. It originally comes from governmental policy documents, designed for forward planning, so it’s not an unsuitable name. However, because ‘White Paper’ has become so associated with the cryptosphere, I prefer to use the term ‘Prospectus’, more commonly found in conventional non-cyber businesses. Either way, whether your paper is white, or your...

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Quality, color, value

Starting a buzz about your business is an all important factor in creating success. You need to be seen, but by the right people, and that is achieved primarily through education. The right people are in a niche audience for your niche product or service. (And if you think that you’re not niche, I suggest you really scrutinize your offering more closely, especially how it fits into existing markets). You have to identify and then educate your niche audience. Then educate them some more.

I hope that you had a great education and that your schoolteachers excited your interest. The chances are that if you had an outstanding teacher, they shaped who you are now, by getting you enthusiastic about a particular subject. A great teacher can help produce people who go on to become outstanding in their chosen field. What’s for sure is that no teacher ever got their students interested by boring them.

Education is a continuous process, and it has to make your target audience feel...

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Buzz buzz buzz

Finding the sweet spot

When there’s a buzz about something, people pass on the word to other people. That is, other people who are just like them. So investors talk to investors – it’s natural. It might seem great to imagine millions of people talking about your startup, but actually that’s not practical, or useful. If you have a huge audience, you have to do a huge amount of communicating with them. It’s better to concentrate on a focused target audience, and get them buzzing, just like bees in a hive who want to share the good news about where the sweetest flowers are.

Few startups understand how to do this. That’s not so surprising: they are in the business of launching an exciting new product or service, not dealing in mass communication. Creating a buzz is the practical way of getting noticed within a target audience, but let me point out, creating a buzz is not about advertising. In fact in this case, advertising is the last thing you...

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