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 – Take your Time to Decide What to do Next
“Take your time to decide what to do next” is good business advice. I've learned it the hard way. When you are juggling growth opportunities and time constraints, deciding whether to take or not a certain client, whether to agree or not to accept a longer than usual payment term, figuring out whom to hire, all shape the way your business and your life will be transformed in the long run. The moment when you make a decision concerning your business should be one in which you can really think about what's the best course of action, not something to sort out while answering three emails and making two phone calls.
Thanks to Tara Duveanu, Nollar
#2 – Don’t be afraid to take risks and try new ideas
“Don’t be afraid to take risks and try new ideas. As a leader, it is your responsibility to encourage those around you to do the same. The business world and technology are changing so rapidly that status quo is a death sentence. It’s critical to network, network, network because you never know who may help you with that next great idea. Also, for new entrepreneurs, it’s important to remain confident – without arrogance. Stay sharp and listen to what is going on around you. Listen to those who work for you and with you. They are the ones who will make you and your company look good. Surround yourself with good people as you will bring out the best in each other.”
Thanks to Jeff Benson, Veterinary Hospitals Association
#3 – Don't Burn Bridges
Business can be an emotional roller coaster. You're going to have times when you feel burned by people. I feel it's best to assume that people have good intentions. Give them the benefit of the doubt and trust them. You'll get burned a few times, but you'll get many more rewards than burns over your career. If you start thinking that people are out to get you, you'll struggle to grow. Certainly don't let people take you more than once or twice, but trust new people. And when you are burned or when you reach a bad situation always find a way to leave off on as good of terms as possible. Don't burn bridges. You might feel bad. A person may say something about you that isn't true, but fight the itch to respond and argue. Remain civil and think long-term. Your reputation will remain strong if you
keep doing good and you never know when something might work in the future. A past client might not work with you again, but they might recommend you to a colleague. Maybe they'll change companies and hire you from their new company. Or maybe your past client company will fire your previous contact and come back to you again in the future.
Thanks to Dayne Shuda, Ghost Blog Writers
#4 – Never Forget to put your People and your Relationships First
I've been an entrepreneur for 60 years, starting my own law firm, launching an award-winning poetry journal, and running a billion-dollar commercial real estate company. The best business advice I can offer to anyone interested in stepping into the alluring pool of entrepreneurship is this: never forget to put your people and your relationships first. I have 4 rules of business relationship building, in this order: 1) care for your customers, 2) care for your people, 3) care for your shareholders, and 4) care for yourself. Remember that list, and pay attention to the details of the order in which they are shared. If you do, your life will be richer with relationships and filled with prosperity.
Thanks to Alan Fox, Peoples Tool Box
#5 – Find the Right People
The single most important task for a business founder or owner is to find the right people for your team. This task is there right from the beginning, even before you launch your company, when you have to decide on your co-founders (if any). And it carries throughout the life of your firm and never quite disappears from your radar. You have to be prepared to do whatever it takes to fill your talent gap – woo, cajole, convince – as you go through all sorts of recruitment channels and networks. You will have different personnel requirements as your company grows, but you should always pay attention to the question of whether each person will add to or subtract from your team’s culture. That, together with your business model, ultimately determines the sustainability of your enterprise.
Thanks to Yeen Teck Hoe, Helpling SG
#6 – Seek Out Experts
Being a small business is a rollercoaster of trial and error, and starting out your main goal is to save money and make money. However, the biggest lesson I've learned is that it you can't do it all by yourself. You have to seek out experts and spend the money to do it right or you will just have to do later anyways and unsnarl a whole lot more! Some very important professionals to have access too are: accountant, lawyer, and shipping logistics. These professionals don’t have to be full time, but you do need to know who to call to ask a question as they arise. Spending money to properly handle your business is always money well spent in the long run.
Thanks to Elyse McNabb , Nourish With Style
#7 – Always Begin with a Strategy
Always begin with a strategy. By having a well defined strategy in place, you will be able to project when to start seeing results and it will give you a framework to follow to be successful. In my case, I focused on marketing strategy. As a marketing professional, it's natural for me to always define a strategy for my clients and even myself when I started my own business.Understanding how to create an integrated marketing strategy will help you to make better decisions regarding specific tactics for your marketing campaign. It takes discipline to follow a strategy, but if you're successful, it will all be worth it!
Thanks to Ajay Prasad, GMR Transcription
#8 – Give!
GIVE! No, not money. Time. Expertise. Accessibility. Although one might think this is an altruistic move (admittedly, it feels good to offer assistance to those who genuinely need it) it's a MARKETING tactic. Lots of people ask marketing questions in Facebook groups, on Twitter, at conferences, in the doctor's office waiting room, at dinner with friends – everywhere. I answer them thoughtfully and completely. When it comes time to hire someone, the folks to whom I've offered assistance already know me, they already know I have expertise, and I'm the one they hire.
Thanks to Hilary Faverman, Hilary Faverman Communications
#9 – Passion
Some of the best business advice I can provide for entrepreneurs is to make sure you have and maintain a passion for what you do, keep a healthy work/life balance and take care of your employees. What makes us who we are is our entrepreneurial spirit and a passion for what we do, it’s not just about the numbers. Remember why you started this journey in the first place, keep that drive and focus and you will never have to work again. While you are working hard towards your goals, keep your work/life balance in order. This balance is very crucial for success and happiness, and if you ignore life outside of work, you may end up losing everything you worked so hard for. Lastly, never forget how crucial your employees are to your business' success. Successful companies have happy employees who share the same goals and values for the business. Do not think everyone is replaceable because the right team can be hard to come by.
Thanks to Victoria Bardsley, PMBC Group
#10 – Work/Life Balance a Top Priority
The best business advice I would give is to make work/life balance a top priority. Whether you’re an entrepreneur starting your first business from home or the CEO of a large company, work/life balance is extremely important. It's about creating a supportive and healthy environment that enables employees to balance work, while maintaining a happy life outside of work and finding time for family and friends. Employers that make work/life balance a top priority will see the positive impact on business in terms of recruitment, retention/turnover, commitment and satisfaction, loyalty, stress reduction and productivity. There are a number of different ways to create a healthy work environment. For example, the Crystal City Business Improvement District works to make sure our community members are getting out of the office and staying active. The BID hosts various fitness events throughout the year including 5K Fridays (5K races every Friday in April), Wednesday Night Spins (a weekly indoor bike race in March) and 21 free outdoor yoga and 22 free zumba classes. As President of the BID, I also encourage my team to participate in these events and participate as much as possible myself. Additionally, I regularly practice yoga, meditate daily to recharge and take at least one solo adventure each year to reenergize. Work/life balance is good for both people and business.
Thanks to Angela Fox, Crystal City Business Improvement District
#11 – Positivity
Maintain a positive attitude, because that is essential for success. Energy is the fuel that feeds our attitude and it needs to be replenished on a daily basis. Having a positive attitude is a conscious choice, so when negative thoughts creep in, stop them in their tracks and replace them with positive self-talk. Repeat words or phrases that focus on affirming truths about you. Surround yourself with like-minded women who are an inspiration and who will provide encouragement. Positivity allows you to see the potential that lies within you and gives you the faith to step outside of the box to achieve your dreams. Have a motto that you believe in and live by, as it will motivate you when the work gets difficult. The one question I always ask myself is: What is the worst that can happen? Every day, I also always tell myself: If you do things for the right reasons, only the right thing can happen. Do whatever it takes for as long as it takes. Don't let “no” or an obstacle stop you. Adversity cultivates inner strength, so don't throw a pity party when life gets tough. Instead, look for the inner lessons to be learned and apply them to your life. Character isn’t born from an easy life– it is forged through pushing through trials and being persistent.
Thanks to Grainne Kelly, BubbleBum
#12 – Don’t be Afraid to Jump
Don’t be afraid to jump. Take the step and adjust as you go forward. We all know that person who is waiting around for just the right moment to find their mate, to move, to start a new career, to go back to school, to have children – all waiting for the right moment. What if that moment is now and you are missing it?
Hesitating and waiting until everything is perfect for a launch, a new service, an updated website or things that can sometimes consume the perfectionist entrepreneur will delay success and learnings. In starting my own business and helping others to do the same, my single most important piece of advice is to just jump. You can’t move forward unless you do. Overplanning and over-strategizing costs time, money and sometimes customers. There are tweaks and adjustments that you will need to make and so you will. You may fail at a couple of things on first try, but you learned from it because you did it and can now move on. Don’t wait for that magical mystical perfect time to do anything in life but especially in business. Act swiftly and with decisiveness and adjust as you move forward. The fear of failure has held back more dreams, businesses and launches than actual failure. Go for it.
Thanks to Barry Breit, Pro Resume Center LLC
#13 – Treat Others the Way You Want to be Treated
The best business advice I can give is to treat others the way you want to be treated. It may sound cliché to some, but this principle is the key to running a good business. When you treat people right, they will respond by investing in you and your company. Your employees will work hard to meet your customer's needs and make the company a success. Bankers and other business partners will step in to assist you when you're facing problems. Vendors will be happy to teach, support, and share expertise with you. Most of all, customers who feel valued will keep coming back to you. Since you can't run a business alone, each of these relationships is important and deserves to be nurtured. Like roots on a tree, the way you treat the people around you will form a strong support network that will help your business grow. Everything else, you can learn over time.
Thanks to Vladimir Gendelman, Company Folders
#14 – Focus
As a CEO, you are probably an overachiever. I know I am! As a result you are always on the lookout for new opportunities to grow your business. Once you find the new opportunities it is very hard not to go after them – who doesn't want to grow their business? But the risk is losing focus. Most startups fail because of a lack of focus. They are unable to find the one thing they do great, which is what their customers are ready to pay for, and keep their attention on this one thing. Don't try to do too many things. Identify where you are strong, which segments of customers you bring value to and double down on these customers. For example, when we started Zenfolio, we knew we needed to focus on one specific audience to offer our customers the best features and provide top-notch customer service. We've chosen professional and enthusiast photographers as our targeted, core demographic and dedicate the majority of our efforts to providing the best service to this customer base.
Thanks to Arnaud Collin, Zenfolio
#15 – Do Things Right from the Beginning
The biggest lesson I've learned since starting our business is you need to do things right from the beginning. Things that you think are going to “do for now” end up causing WAY more pain in the log run. It is very difficult to fix/change infrastructure down the line. For example, we have used Paypal as our payment processor and this has been a big mistake. Everyone wants Stripe. Switching this now has literally cost thousands of dollars and taken months, plus all of the missed out sales in the mean time. We should have done the proper research and did it right from the get go. I can cite numerous other examples, and they have all been very costly to fix.
Thanks to Dave Schneider, NinjaOutreach
#16 – Be Humble
Be humble enough to seek out a mentor, generous enough to be a mentor and brave enough to go it alone when needed. Oh, and life is short…don’t take yourself so dang seriously.
Thanks to Tony Bombacino, Real Food Blends
#17 – Be Distinguishable
In today’s competitive business environment, one must be distinguishable from the crowd. To achieve distinction, knowing, using, and leveraging personal strengths to maximize professional competency and attain results is the focus. For example, if you are emotionally intelligent, understand how it sets you apart from others in your industry. Perhaps you have attained expertise in your industry, incorporate and highlight your knowledge and skills into your work. If you are effective in making personal and professional connections, create an organizational culture that promotes relationships and values employee contributions. Develop products, sales and marketing methods, and merchandise delivery systems that communicate this message to your clients. Remember, work reflects who you are. Make sure your identity and voice are revealed in your professional pursuits. Business is simply another avenue through which we develop beneficial working relationships. And, building positive partnerships is key to not only professional success, but also personal success as well.
Thanks to Anita Martin, Love Magazine
#18 – Give Before You Get
It is best to give before you get. A great way to build your business is to be the first one to give away something of value to your prospects. They will appreciate it & be more likely to come back for more. And they will refer others your way. If they don't see your value it is probably better to know sooner vs. later anyway, they would not be good long term customers for you most likely. Also if you give something away they use again imagine how good it is when they pay for more!
Thanks to Paige Arnof-Fenn, Mavens & Moguls
#19 – Identify Talent
If you’re looking to identify talent from the millennial category, then employing social media strategies is effective. After all, this generation understands and is most comfortable with that approach. But if you’re looking to hire more seasoned, experienced staff, such as a director or vice president, you might have to scrap all the technology for a more traditional approach. If a member of the Generation X or baby boomer population is not actively seeking employment, the chance of that person responding to an electronic overture is quite slim. People are people. Technology has not changed who these people are. They are more accustomed to keeping their heads down and are less likely to take the time to respond to an email of this nature. How do companies then engage those “A” players who will truly contribute to their success versus just fill a slot? Think of that old adage, “Sometimes the old way never stopped being more effective.” In other words, if you want to identify top senior talent, you’re going to have to go old school and reach for the phone.
Thanks to Cathleen Faerber, The Wellesley Group, Inc.
#20 – Core Purpose, Values and Mission
Many small business owners start with a mindset that hard work will lead to long term success. In reality startups that enjoy enduring success begin with a core purpose, values, and mission. We established a Strategic Business Plan over 20 years ago and it has served us well. Over time the business landscape has changed and we’ve had to adjust to survive and grow. We started as a traditional brick and mortar retail store and today we are a successful eCommerce business selling nationally. Every year our leadership team reviews and updates the Strategic Business Plan, but our core purpose, values, and mission has never changed. Remember – A goal without a plan is just a wish.
Thanks to Bob Shirilla, Simply-Bags