7 Keys to Being a More Bankable Entrepreneur

Some business owners and startup entrepreneurs just seem irresistible.  They’re the ones catching investors’ eyes, earning the highest fees and who rarely must search for clients and customers because clients come to them. How does this happen?

It’s not an isolated phenomenon. These kinds of “bankable” businesses and entrepreneurs exist in almost every industry, says Andrew Sobel, co-author along with Jerold Panas of “Power Questions: Build Relationships, Win New Business and Influence Others” (Wiley, 2012).  But bankable business superstars aren’t born, they’re usually self-made.

Here are seven keys that can unlock the hidden superstar in any entrepreneur:

1. Deliver something great, over and over.

Not easy, sure. But you can’t expect superstardom to occur overnight. You have to build your reputation for delivering results consistently year after year. Entrepreneurs who keep on delivering gain trust and become more “bankable.”

2. Have a high-powered value proposition.

It’s vital that you clearly articulate why customers should come to you above everyone else. What unique value do you and your business offer?  Your public value proposition doesn’t have to define everything you do with clients or customers, but it should make clear what you’re best known for. Businesses that don’t have a unique value proposition are just a commodity.

3. Be the one asking the questions.

Here’s a good test of where you stand: When you talk to potential investors or clients, are they the ones asking questions; grilling you on your credentials?  Or do you also tactfully test them for suitability as one of your clients or backers?  Good news here is that you don’t have to wait until you’re famous to put yourself in this position.  You can do it at any point in the life of your business. When you’re the one asking the thought-provoking, idea-inducing questions in the conversation, people take notice. You quickly move up a notch and take control of the discussion.

4. Be an industry thought leader.

These days, you don’t have to write a bestselling book to be seen as a thought leader. It starts by having deep focus and an abiding curiosity to learn everything there is to know about your industry. Then start passing along that knowledge, by blogging, speaking, consulting, writing articles for industry publications and participating in social media. It’s not a one-and-done proposition. You need to be out their daily.

5. Create a powerful name or brand.

In short, you need to become well known. That doesn’t mean worldwide. It might just be in your community or other limited sphere of influence – in your particular niche, marketplace or geographic area. When you are a known name in your specialty, people think of you when they need something. Name recognition works like a magnet. It’s never too late to start. Heed this advice: No matter how known or unknown you are now, plan one activity monthly that will increase your name recognition in some way.

6. Evaluate your scale and select clients carefully.

Superstars are scarce and should command the higher fees or prices. Think about how your business model scales.  Can you afford to work for or sell to everyone? Sometimes trying to sell at larger scale only ends up diluting your personal or business brand and your ability to deliver quality goods or services. Business superstars know they can’t – and shouldn’t – spread themselves too thin.

7. Price like a superstar.

While you have to achieve at least a semblance of star status before you can charge premium rates, there’s actually more to it. “Research has demonstrated that high prices lead to high perceived value,” says Sobel. “Most people think it’s the other way around – that if you deliver high value, only then can you get high fees.”  Look at it this way. As you become more and more bankable, you enter a virtuous circle of ever-higher perceived value. Investors and customers know that backing or hiring you in particular lowers their risk, and that’s worth paying for.

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Filed Under: FeaturedSalesSavvyStartupSmarts

About the Author: Daniel Kehrer, Founder and Chief Content Officer of BizBest Media, is a senior-level leader in digital media, content development and online marketing with special expertise in startups, SMB, social media and generating traffic, engagement and leads. He holds an MBA from UCLA/Anderson and is a passionate entrepreneur (started 4 businesses), syndicated columnist, blogger, thought leader and author of 7 business and financial books.

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