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Steven Danson on What It Takes to be a Successful Entrepreneur

There's more to being a successful entrepreneur than simply having a great idea, notes Steven Danson, the president at Keyword Digital. Many of the ideas that came to light during the dotcom boom in the 1990s were great, but they didn't have the support of consumers at the time to make it in the long run. Outside of knowing the right time and customer readiness needed to launch a new business, a number of other factors, including the amount of support your company has and your own commitment to the idea, also play a part in determining its success or failure.

Entrepreneur and executive, Steve Danson, who has pioneered segments of the market in pay-per-click, display, and Shopper targeting advertising and who has avoided many of the pitfalls some executives and entrepreneurs have experienced during the evolution of online media, shares his thoughts on what led to his success over the years.

Choosing the Business Concept

Danson offers some words of wisdom when it comes to deciding what type of business to create. While it can seem easy to copy another person or company's idea, he advises against it unless there is considerable room for growth in that particular area of business.

“If possible, try not to compete directly with other businesses. Aim to create a product or service that has no competition. Inefficiencies exist across all markets. When you can pinpoint these pockets, you are in essence creating a new industry or segment," he explains.

"I like to look at the online advertising industry as a whole by mapping out the big picture and then looking at where it is inefficient or lacking,” Danson continues. “Once we identify these pockets of open space, we can fill them with an offering that better services the customer or influences purchases that consumers or businesses didn't have the option of before."

According to Danson, thinking outside of the box is really the best approach. When looking for business ideas, pay attention to what's going on around you in the business climate. Ask yourself what's missing and what you can do to fill the gaps, then take the next steps needed to actually get your business off of the ground.

Marcus Lemonis, the CEO of Camping World, puts it in another way. You want to be the big fish in business, not the small fish. That means looking for business opportunities and ideas that will allow you to change things up, not ones that involve going along with the crowd.

Turning Concept into Practice

Of course, a great idea will only take you so far. You need to have a solid backbone to support the idea and give it structure. As Steve Danson notes, "The second - but certainly not secondary -area of importance lies within the understanding that a great idea remains only a great idea if not executed properly."

"Starting a business requires dedication, proper planning, and the relentless pursuit of success. Having the ability to conceptualize and sell the idea is not nearly enough," he continues. "As my career has evolved, I have learned to emphasize my efforts and improve my performance in this area on a continual basis."

More Tips for Business Success

There are a number of ways to pursue and plan for success as an entrepreneur, but Steven Danson stresses the importance of not doing it alone. As he emphasizes, bringing on a team of dedicated, energetic, and talented employees is essential to a company's success.

"Proper execution also requires a strong ability to source and hire the right people. Their ability to execute is as important as that of the entrepreneur's. The business may have started with you; however, it is the people you hire and partner with that add the greatest value in the long run.”

Hiring others - whether they are in executive positions, middle management, or entry level - can also help you learn the value of knowing when and how to ask for help. It's a rare case that an entrepreneur will succeed entirely on his or her own. People who have been in business for longer than you can act as mentors and help you guide and shape your business, while those who are just starting out can provide the energy and excitement needed to really get a business off of the ground.

Another great piece of advice when it comes to succeeding as an entrepreneur is learning not to fear the word, “No.” Depending on how earth shattering or innovative your ideas are, it might be something you hear a lot from investors or potential partners. Hearing “No” may actually be a good thing, as it means that your business is breaking away from the norm and potentially doing something that will have a lasting, positive impact.

On the flip side, it's helpful to learn to know when to turn others down as well. When you're starting a business, you might feel that you need to agree to every opportunity that comes your way. Steve Danson encourages you to choose carefully and to only work on projects or partnerships that you believe will solve an inefficiency in the market or are part of an industry segment that has considerable room to grow.