No matter how you look at it, starting a business is hard. One of the hardest things you may ever have to do. There’s the business plan to think over, a name, government policies to consider, how it will affect your family, finances and the list rolls on from there. Some hardened entrepreneurs suggest spending a long time thinking about if that’s really the path you want to take. If so, there is plenty of advice floating around to help you with the grueling journey. Entrepreneurs are always willing to lend their words to the younger generation of business seekers and give them assistance when the time comes. Below we have asked entrepreneurs for their best business advice.
1) Don't be afraid of the F word (Failure)
I remind myself of this every day, for two reasons. Firstly, if you are afraid of failure then you don't take risks, if you don't take risks as an entrepreneur then you don't get anywhere. In other words – it is your fear of failure that makes you fail. Secondly, I keep reminding myself not to be afraid of failure because if I am going to fail then I'd rather do it as quickly as possible so that I can move onto the next thing.
Thanks to Peter Meek, Engineering Circle!
2) Control Freak
Be a control freak. It's important to know every single detail of all aspects of your business. I'm always paying attention to the details, making sure I'm involved in projects across the board. It may seem a bit overbearing, but it makes it easier quickly sniff out a problem and correct it before any damage is done. If an employee is struggling, you'll know right away and be able to help them in case they're too afraid or embarrassed to ask. Even with a trustworthy staff, I still tend to get involved with everything one way or another.
Thanks to Rich Kahn, eZanga!
Find a great mentor. A few months ago, I reached out to one of my idols in the mom space to be a mentor. She founded one of the most popular websites for moms and I wanted to learn from the best. I wasn't sure if she would respond, but she did and actually ended up coming over to my house to meet with me. We are great friends now. I wanted to be able to learn from someone that had already accomplished something similar to what I was trying to achieve. She has been a great resource ever since and is always happy to help because she can easily relate to what I'm going through. I highly recommend that people put themselves out there and find a mentor. Never be afraid to reach out to your hero cause they might turn into an incredible friend as well. My experience has been a total dream come true.
Thanks to Jillian Darlington, MomCo!
People often say that it is a relationship business. They don't often explain what that means. Charity is doing something to help another person and expecting nothing in return. Healthy relationships give and receive. Many times, people say they are seeking relationships when they are actually seeking to receive charity. My best business advice is to pour yourself into healthy relationships. Seek to give and to receive.
Thanks to John M. Crossman, Crossman & Company!
5) 4 Tips to Live By
Here are my top 4 business tips that I teach (and live by): (1) Get comfortable in your own biz-skin. Your personality, background, education, culture, and values all create a one-of-a-kind business DNA that will set you apart from the competition and attract dream clients right to your digital doorstep. (2) Invest in your online platform. You need a professional looking website that communicates your brand message (+ connects with your audience) and promotes your email list (yes, you do need an email list). (3) Stop chasing clients and start getting on stage. You can completely flip the script on how your land new customers and clients by sharing your message and knowledge on established “stages”. That could be a guest post on a popular blog, a radio interview, or an appearance on the Today Show. Publicity will bring quality clients to you, so you don't have to find them. (4)Focus on building a community, not a commodity. Whatever you're selling, there's an underlying message behind it that your audience is attracted to. For a clothing store, it could be the message that fashion is fun. For a tech company creating productivity apps, it could be all about creating a life that works for you. Find your message, and focus on building a community of customers and fans around that, and then offer products, services, and experiences that reinforce that message.
Thanks to Sonja Jobson!
6) Listening Tour
My advice is to go on a Listening Tour! Politicians do it all the time and it is great for business too. Make a list the movers & shakers, people you admire and prospects, ask a few smart open ended questions then sit back and take notice. They will be more than happy to tell you what is on their mind. If you listen to what they share with you there will be plenty of opportunities to help them. I did it when business slowed and picked up several new clients. It is a great way to connect and a lot of fun too. Start listening with no strings attached, you'll be amazed what you find. It does not cost much, for the price of a few coffees and meals you will get an earful. I had no idea what to expect and got a lot of new work as a result. I run a marketing firm and I did my listening tour the old fashioned way by sending out e-mails & picking up the phone then brought a pad & pen, asked a few open ended questions then shut up and started taking notes. Happy to tell you more if you are interested.
Thanks to Paige Arnof-Fenn, Mavens & Moguls!
7) Customer First
My favorite business tip I originally received was from my father. When I was just starting out he told me, “Always concentrate on the customer. Take care of what's in it for them and what's in it for you will take care of itself.” Keeping that in mind always helps me keep my business focused on what's really important.
Thanks to Barry Maher!
8) Don't Network. Make Friends
The best business advice I could offer to entrepreneurs and business owners is to remember to build your relationships and teach those who work for you to do the same. Too often people focus their attention on prospecting and networking. I think if we shift the focus from the sale and the sell to simply doing what we did when we were kids then it takes the pressure off of us and it also cultivates a whole different atmosphere to those we do business with. I can't tell you how many people tell me they dread going to Networking events. They describe their process of having to dress up and put on a smile, and their thought of following the steps of collecting business cards and passing their own out. People have turned networking into a business version of speed dating. All I can picture is being in an establishment and someone walking up to me and saying, ” so what do you do for a living? And if what I do is not something they need at the time… I then become cast aside for the BBD (the Bigger Better Deal). When people ask me why I don't network I tell them that I don't feel like networking is a fit for my business, now or ever. Of course this statement always peeks curiosity. They then want to know how our company is able to consistently attract more clients. Our motto is “We don't Network; We make Friends”. Next time you have the opportunity to attend a networking event I suggest that you change your total perspective.Go out for the purpose of hanging out with your friends and making new ones. It gives you something to look forward to and it puts you in a different frame of mind. Maybe the friends you meet that night might not be a fit for the things you do, but I bet they could possibly be a fit for someone you know or maybe even someone you haven't met yet. When you take the time to find out what someone does all the time and not just in business then you have made something greater than a sale; you have made a friend. A friend will refer you out over and over again , even if they don't use your services themselves. It has been a proven fact that people truly do business with those who they know, like and trust. Be that person, and your sales will find you.
Thank you to Michelle Colon-Johnson, 2 Dream Productions, Inc.!
9) Network, Network, Network
After running a small business for over 5 years, I've learned to never underestimate the power of networking. My advice is to take every advantage possible to meet new people; Efficiently communicating and never dismissing a single soul– you never know who you're talking to, who they might know or how they'd be able to contribute.
Thanks to Lori Cheek, Cheekd!
10) Reverse Engineering
As an entrepreneur the best way to get from point A to B is reverse engineering. Beginning with B in mind simplifies the creation of a step-by-step process. When done properly, the goal is a daily to do list of 2-3 actionable steps. A plan is essential to get anywhere, especially in competitive markets. The Small Business Administration has a great plan generator with easy to follow examples. Know what you seek to accomplish, make the plan, work the plan.
Thanks to Michael Beahon!
11) Minimize Your Learning Curve
In my humble opinion, the largest barrier to success for any person in any industry is the learning curve. It greatly helps if you know what you're doing, and people generally prefer to do business with experts. When I ran a financial practice, my most prominent and most consistent challenge was being the expert in every conversation. Before that, I spent most of my time in experimental psychology, facing the same challenge. Fast forward to my time at Text Request, and you find a similar issue. In order for others to do business with us, they need to first understand what we do and how that will benefit them. Before I, or anyone from our team, can educate them as such, we have to first be the experts on all things mobile and business. My tip, therefore, is to minimize your personal learning curve as much as possible. Read as much as you can on your subject, and stay up-to-date with what's going in your field. Find people who's success you want to imitate, and ask them what they referenced. The best way to learn is often by doing, so constantly put what you're reading and listening into practice. Learn, try, repeat. The more I've focused on this process, the quicker I've achieved my goals.
Thanks to Kenneth Burke, Text Request!
12) Build a Company that Attracts Talent
Building a sustainable company from scratch is tremendously hard. When my company finally reached sustainability, our next goal was to scale, and scale fast. At that point, acquiring top talent became the most valuable asset we could have to maintain sustainability and surpass competition. If you're a young startup like my company, your resources will be limited. Therefore, the best way to achieve this is to propagate a strong brand vision and putting an emphasis on office culture. I regularly spoke at conferences and top colleges to share our long term vision for the company and my partner focused heavily on creating a nurturing environment where our employees are free to learn ferociously and socialize in a meaningful way.
Thanks to Biying Miao, Hot Pop Factory!
Success in any business starts with listening. By nature I'm not a “people” person. I'm a creative task oriented person who loves to take ideas and build them into businesses. Spending time listening to people is actually a huge chore for me, but I've learned that if I listen a lot more than I actually want to listen, we all achieve more success. We all know that hiring and firing are huge expenses for businesses, so double down on your people by listening to their complaints and entertaining their ideas. I get upset with my team if I hear a complaint second hand. I also realize I'm not the only one with great ideas! Take the time to listen. You'll also show your team that you value them the more you listen since the feeling of being heard is a need for all humans. When others respond to our thoughts and ideas, it gives us a feeling of purpose. Bernard M. Baruch said, “Most of the successful people I’ve known are the ones who do more listening than talking.” Simply listening can offer opportunities to show your team how much you value them and valued employees stay longer and work harder and together you'll all achieve more success.
Thanks to Joshua Swanson, Go To My Apartment!
14) Your Why
Understand your “why.” Entrepreneurship is hard; it can take years of sacrifice and dedication to get something off the ground. Only those with a big enough reason for working in the first place will have the grit it requires to overcome failure, learn, and grow for the long-haul. Those who are talented enough or strategic enough will be competent today but only those who care enough will be unforgettable for a lifetime. Only those with passion will touch us deeply. Only those with purpose will have the fortitude to do the unromantic work of becoming a master. If it doesn't keep you up late at night and jolt you out of bed before your morning coffee, it doesn't matter enough to you. Business-owners don't succeed. People on missions do. Be a movement, first.
Thanks to Stephanie Seibel, RedThreadCoaching.com!
15) Give & Pay it Forward
Find ways to give to others. Pay it forward. Provide referrals, introductions, information, trusted advice before ever asking for referrals. Many people get into networking situations with the sole intention of getting referrals. They are much better served by reversing the process and thinking about the various ways that they can help others. The results will be abundant if you focus on giving rather than receiving.
Thanks to Bill Saleebey, Ph.D.!
16) Non Traditional
The world is your canvas, if you keep an open mind and look at things in circles or even trapezoids you will come up with alternative ways to promote or advertise your business without spending too much money and the beauty of it is that you might end up doing something so silly and simple that it might give you amazing results or it can be so bad but you probably ended up spending just a couple of bucks and it wont break the bank. What ever you end up doing and doesn't work, don't worry about it. There is no such thing as right or wrong ways to advertise. The right way is what ever works best for you and your business. When I launched Lokalie I did everything in a very non traditional style. I still did social media but I focused all my energy like if I was advertising back in the 90's and the internet boom was just starting. By doing this I was forcing myself to think differently and completely out of that hateful box.
Thanks to Frankie Tollinche, Lokalie!