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15 Entrepreneurs Give Advice on How to Run a Successful Business

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Having and running a successful business is the goal of entrepreneurs and business owners. While success is often a relative term, we know that entrepreneurs start their business with a specific goal and a vision and it is when they reach that goal that they are “successful”. It could be $1M in gross revenue or donating to charity but each business owner has their own metrics and definition of success and we wanted some tips on how to become successful. We asked some entrepreneurs and business owners what their advice was on running a successful business.

#1 – Positive Employees

Photo Credit: Danielle Kunkle

Photo Credit: Danielle Kunkle

Choosing positive employees has been a top factor in the growth of our agency. A negative employee can drag your team down and be a cancer on your floor. I can’t stress enough how critical is that you quickly get rid of people like that. Hiring positive, upbeat, friendly people has a huge effect on your overall team attitude and ability to grow your staff. If you have two equally qualified candidates for a job, particularly for a key employee role, choose the candidate whose interview, references and outlook on life indicate that the employee is a glass half-full kind of person. Surrounding yourself with key players who are positive is the quickest way to grow your team with the right people who will align themselves with your goals and figure out how they can help you achieve them.

Thanks to Danielle Kunkle, Boomer Benefits

#2 – Control Your Numbers

Photo Credit: Ryan O'Connell

Photo Credit: Ryan O’Connell

Have control of your numbers. And do your accounting on an accruals basis as it gives a much better indication of your profitability than just looking at cash in and cash out. We very nearly went out of business because we did not keep an eye on our profit and loss on an accruals basis and while we were cash rich, we didn’t spot that we were running at a loss until much later than we should have. By keeping an eye on your profit and loss we can make much better informed decisions about what we spend, what sales we need to make, and when we can expand and grow our company.

Thanks to Ryan O’Connell, GLAD Solutions

#3 – Manage Finances

Photo Credit: Andreas Johansson

Photo Credit: Andreas Johansson

My biggest lesson after 10 years as an entrepreneur is the need to monitor and manage your finances, especially the cash flow, as if your life depended on it – because as a business owner, it really does. Set up a mechanism where you monitor on a (at least) monthly basis what you have coming in, going out, forecasted revenue, as well as expected expenses. Keep track of how many deals you have in the pipeline and what percentage of them ultimately end up closing, as it’ll help you be more accurate in your financial forecasts going forward. You might find (I sure did) that you are overestimating your expected sales and underestimating your expenses – it might make you feel better for a short time, but it’s the ultimate killer of any business. In our firms we spend a lot of time prospecting (who doesn’t..) but we also keep a very clear focus on the low hanging fruit as those deals are the ones that will keep the lights on for another month, and it’s often many smaller deals rather than one huge pie in the sky deal that gets it done for us.

Thanks to Andreas Johansson, Berkovitz Development Group

#4 – Find Professionals

Photo Credit: Mary Kurek

Photo Credit: Mary Kurek

Get professionals to help you do the things you don’t do well or that take time away from what you sell. It will amaze you how much mental space this gives you to be more creative, and how many new opportunities come your way. Tasks get done faster and your business becomes more seamless. I just hired a pro to help me relaunch my Facebook page and work with me on a marketing funnel. In the process, she passed along to me two free apps to streamline my project management, and actually mentioned that she had a client that could be interested in my services. Peace of mind, increased business professionalism, and a prospect…no brainer.

Thanks to Mary Kurek, Professional Networking Agency

#5 – Go for Ideal Clients

Photo Credit: Ajay Prasad

Photo Credit: Ajay Prasad

My best advice to any business owner hoping to make their business successful is to only go for your ideal clients, especially in B2B industries. In the early days of my business, I went for anyone who was at all interested in my service, and it cost me a lot of time and money in the long run. When you use so much effort on a client that simply is not right for your business, you are doing yourself and that client a disservice. You have to find your niche and what types of clients you specialize in, and then market towards them as heavily as possible.

Thanks to Ajay Prasad, GMR Web Team

#6 – Ignore Your Competition…Sometimes

Photo Credit: Michael Motylinski

Photo Credit: Michael Motylinski

I started an online wedding ministry that ordains and trains wedding ministers. When I started out I tried to mimic what the other successful online ministries were doing. This ended up being a mistake because I eventually learned that the online leaders didn’t have a unique selling proposition. They were just all following each other. And it made for a very boring and uninteresting customer experience. As a result of my own lack of originality, I created a site that looked and felt no different than all the others. And even as my rankings and visibility increased, I noticed I wasn’t gaining any traction or customers. Eventually I moved away from their model and started creating a unique and compelling brand that offered something different.

Thanks to Michael Motylinski, Wanderlust Bay Ministries

#7 – Find Your Niche

Photo Credit: Jeremy Young

Photo Credit: Jeremy Young

To be successful in a competitive business, you have to find your niche. From the very beginning of Tanga, I have dedicated all my energy to finding the best deals on the web and putting them in front of deal seekers. Today we are taking it a step further with our “secret sauce”: personalization. We work day and night on bringing each shopper unique set of deals (still best on the web!) tailored to their individual tastes and interests! You have to figure out what niche to fill, what works on that playing field, and stick with it. Another element that proved critical to Tanga’s success has been relationships. We have always grown and thrived by prioritizing each important relationship. I treat each interaction with customers, suppliers, vendors and employees not as a transaction, but as an opportunity to build long-lasting relationships on transparency and trust. This not only strengthens Tanga’s position in the market but also fuels trust and respect, which leads to long-term mutual success.

Thanks to Jeremy Young, Tanga

#8 – Calculated Risks

Being successful in business is a machine that has many moving parts. With that, there are absolutely some practices that have far more impact than others on your overall success. Most businesses are eager to grow and expand. If you are interested in growth, you must be willing to take calculated risks. You simply can’t stay where you are, and expect to go where you haven’t been. To get where you haven’t been, you have to take a risk in one way or another. Risks come in many forms. You may be taking a risk with money, time, strategies, or personnel. The key to mitigating your chance of loss when you take a risk is your research before you make your move. You should look at both why your plan may or may not work. Analyze all actionable and theoretical data that gives you valuable insight related to your risk. You should never blindly take a risk on anything. There should always be reasons why you do what you do. Just make sure you don’t go too overboard. You don’t want paralysis by analysis. Set a time table related to your research. After your time is up, act! In the end, if you are willing to take calculated risks on something new, you can constantly break new ground in your business.

Thanks to Anthony Martin, Choice Mutual

#9 -Not a Customer’s Bank

Photo Credit: Mickey Swortzel

Photo Credit: Mickey Swortzel

My business tip that I believe has given us success the past 8 years is realize you aren’t the customer’s bank. Early on in our business two of our biggest customers went out of business unexpectedly while owing us money. Thankfully these customers did not put us out of business and we purchased accounts receivable insurance as a way to protect ourselves moving forward. This third party sends our customers through an underwriting process and we provide credit terms based on their recommendations. This has allowed us insight in to our customer’s financial stability and we can make a much more informed decision about whether to extend credit or make them a cash customer. To date we have not had to use this insurance to pay a bad debt due to a much tighter credit policy.

Thanks to Mickey Swortzel, New Eagle

#10 – Build the Right Framework

Photo Credit: Vincent Schwellenbach

Photo Credit: Vincent Schwellenbach

Business owners are everywhere, but successful ones are harder to find. Especially when talking niche markets or small business. In order to be successful in today’s market; you need to be able to anticipate demand, analyze consumer insights and embrace technology to help you achieve your goals. Too often small business owners begin without the framework that is required to understand their target audience, let alone reach them through their marketing efforts. Sustainability and repeatability are two words that need to be engrained into the minds of every entrepreneur. We are all excited about the prospect and potential of our business; who else would work 80-100 a week? But we need to be cognizant of what works for the now, and what will continue to work day-in-day-out. Additionally, as a marketing agency – we understand the need to meet consumer expectations. From segmentation of market to web design and social media to search engine optimization, there is way too much to do for the average entrepreneur. Focus on your passion, and let professionals handle the reputation management, how you are getting found, and messaging. Focus on building networks of brand champions and partners versus learning how to build a website. At the end of the day, in order to really be in-tune to your business, and in the driver seat of results – keep focus on your passion, stick to your core principles and depend on partners.

Thanks to Vincent Schwellenbach, Macbach Creative Agency

#11 – PR

Photo Credit: Ben Walker

Photo Credit: Ben Walker

If someone asks me what advice I would give to new business owners, or existing ones for that matter, it is to get as much PR as possible. Get a nice head shot and be ready to answer when journalists call. PR is the best and most effective way to get your name and your company’s name out there. It presents a much different side of your company than marketing and sales efforts do. It’s the human side that people can relate with easier, which in turn will get you more business.

Thanks to Ben Walker, Transcription Outsourcing, LLC

#12 – Core Values

A successful business stands on the foundation of knowing what your cores values are as a company. When a business has a clear and concise set of core values it will streamline the decision process. All your advertising messages, website design, social media messages becomes a uniformed message. The importance of a unified message clearly shows clients what you stand for. This will then allow your business to meet the clients where they are and connect with the best clients for your business.

Thanks to Connie Chi, Vitality Branding

#13 – Learning Equals Success

Photo Credit: Lisa Chu

Photo Credit: Lisa Chu

Before I started my own business I worked in the apparel industry for over five years. In my previous employment I acquired a lot of knowledge and experience working in the apparel business. I had to understand how the apparel industry operated inside and out before I felt confident enough to pursue my business endeavors. Plus I had to learn detailed information on how to run a business. One of the keys to my business success was the relationships and connections I built throughout the years being in the apparel business. It was a very easy transition from employee to owner due to the previous hard work I put in. Even though my name had some credibility in the apparel industry, I still needed to put in hard work to ensure it became a success. Overestimating my expenses and underestimating my revenue helped me be profitable in the first year of business. Being conservative with my finances made me refine my business plan to ensure my business had the best chance at becoming successful. To this day I have yet to stop learning. The best advice I can offer is to accept that learning will equal success. You must learn the market, competitors and industry before you attempt to start a business.

Thanks to Lisa Chu, Black N Bianco Kids Apparel

#14 – Sales Focus

Photo Credit: Liran Machlouf

Photo Credit: Liran Machlouf

In today’s world of startups and tech too much focus is put on product development and not enough on sales. The problem this creates is simple, no sales = no money = no growth. Ask any investor the first question they have is what are your sales like. Focus on building sales, foster relationships beyond just sales with current and future clients and the cost of customer acquisition will go down exponentially as they continue to buy. Once sales are established you can focus on improving your product.

Thanks to Liran Machlouf,The Drivers Lab 

 #15 – Imagination and Courage

Photo Credit: Rachel Carrell

Photo Credit: Rachel Carrell

Leadership is about imagination and courage. You need imagination to see the world as it could be, not as it is. Then you need courage to actually try to create it. If you have imagination and courage, and if you truly believe in what you’re building, you’ll be able to attract great talent to come along with you and build it. Beyond that, you need to focus on the detail. It’s not a popular thing to say these days, but belief is not enough. You have to actually sweat. You have to show up. You have to sigh, and sit down, and try again. And if you want to keep that great talent you attracted earlier, you have to do it with a smile on your face.

Thanks to Rachel Carrell, Koru Kids

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This is a post from a CEO Blog Nation writer. CEO Blog Nation is a community of blogs for entrepreneurs and business owners. Started in much the same way as most small businesses, CEO Blog Nation captures the essence of entrepreneurship by allowing entrepreneurs and business owners to have a voice. CEO Blog Nation provides news, information, events and even startup business tips for entrepreneurs, startups and business owners to succeed.
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