There’s nothing wrong with asking for advice. It doesn’t matter if you’re a veteran business owner or just getting your feet wet in the deep end of the entrepreneurial lake. Advice can be delivered in many forms. You might get a wake-up call from a peer or mentor on your performance. It might be a huge motivational speech from someone you hadn’t considered to be in the ‘business’ field. The point of advice is to help. We rounded up a list of advice from entrepreneurs and business owners. Maybe you’ll find someone you need on the list.
We asked entrepreneurs and business owners to share their best business advice.
#1- Try not to do everything
When you are first starting out it is very tempting to cut corners by handling your own graphic design work and build your own logo, build your own DIY website, and even try to research and understand all of the tax laws. We are in business doing what we do well, so unless it is graphic design, website building or tax accounting, leave those to the pros. While we do not usually have a ton of money in the beginning, those are things that can make or break us and are best left to those who know what they are doing. Save your time growing your business and doing what you love!
Thanks to Jennifer Snyder, CPO®, Neat as a Pin® Organizing Experts!
#2- Plan, be authentic, trustworthy and have a vision
Besides passion, startup entrepreneurs need a clear actionable business plan that also has taken into account the financial resources required for at least the first year of operation. One of the biggest mistakes startup companies make is to not properly assess the financial needs to start and maintain their new business. Entrepreneurs also need to be authentic, trustworthy and have great vision. You need to be authentic: be yourself and don’t try to be someone else or someone that you think you need to be. You need to be trustworthy: This means being honest with your team about the business, plus, your expectations regarding success and their performance. Building trust with your team is key. Finally, you need vision and strategy. A successful leader needs to be able to clearly develop a vision for the business and a strategy that can be implemented.
Thanks to Stuart Snyder
#3- Consider three factors
There are many factors in running a good to great business. If your business isn’t a one person operation but relies on employees, you’ll need to take especially good care of them. They will stay with you forever if you incorporate these three ingredients into your business in the following order. The number one factor is respect. Show respect to every worker, know their names, their family issues and show you care. Be their extended family. The second item on the list is dialogue. Talk with them using any means available about the company. Brag about the success and accept responsibility for missed goals. Lastly, fair pay. Pay them the highest amount using incentives to reach a higher pay scale. You should hire or be the best HR person available.
Thanks to Charley Valera, Valera Publishing!
#4- Know your meta-goal
We are taught that the shortest distance between two points is a straight line. Now, that straight line may provide the shortest route, technically or mathematically speaking, but in business – and in life – there are always points which makes themselves present at different times. Your business goals are all well and good, but in order to know which opportunities to take advantage of, and in order to know when it may be time to forsake a strategy for another – you need to know your meta-goal. What is it exactly that your daily, weekly, monthly, and 10-year plans are facilitating? What is the underlying goal of it all? This requires you to dig deeper and develop your own personal philosophy. When you don’t, certain opportunities may arrive at your doorstep, but you will be so caught up in number columns, pie charts, and object diagrams – you will miss out on them completely, and you will have missed that straight line to a better point of existence.
Thanks to Nate Masterson, Maple Holistics!
#5- Hire fast and fire faster
A good hire can accelerate business growth exponentially – even a personal assistant can make the difference between burnout and brilliant. But a bad employee can destroy moral at a startup faster than anything else, kill your progress and destroy company culture. Don’t throw good money after bad by holding onto an employee that isn’t a good fit.
Thanks to Kate Bagoy, Kate Bagoy International!
#6- Listen to your customers
I cannot stress enough that business owners should listen to their customers. So much can be gleaned from listening to conversations on social media, feedback requests and by simply talking to them. I own an ice cream shop north of Tampa, FL called Ice Dreammm Shop and I try to be part of the community and interact with my customers as much as possible. In fact, many of the flavors I create are from customer requests which they really seem to love. I also look for product suggestions which has me currently developing a low/no sugar recipe. This strategy can work for any business and can be done at any hour with the help of social media.
Thanks to Joe Schembri, Ice Dreammm Shop!
Like creating a great photograph, before it’s a photograph, there are numerous distracting elements all around your subject. When you start your business there are hundreds of tiny elements that might distract you from the big picture goal. Be sure you have that goal clearly defined, and each step you intend to take to reach it. That will help you keep from getting distracted by laborious tasks that will waste your time. For example, like running a one-time contest to generate more Facebook likes. Something like this likely won’t make you more money; in fact it will cost you money to run the contest. Stay focused!
Thanks to Sophia Lemon
#8- Hire well
There will come a point when you need to bring on employees to help run your operation. Don’t just take the first person to come along; conduct due diligence and hire leaders with a passion for learning on their own. Screen numerous candidates and develop a system to rank them. I use a one to ten system with several criteria areas, including experience, first impression, confidence, and interest in the field. Take time developing questions that help paint a picture of who they are. One of my favorites, which is especially relevant in my industry, is What are your favorite
Thanks to Geoff Hoesch, Dragonfly Digital Marketing!
#9- Find a mentor
My best advice to is to find a mentor. If you can’t find a mentor, find a mastermind group in your industry or area of expertise. If you can’t find a mentor or mastermind group, find an online forum where you can make connections, network and get input on your daily or strategic business challenges. I belong to a mastermind group and an online forum that I can’t live without. The mastermind group is small and intimate and each member has a greater depth of understanding of my business. We talk 2 times a month, and they challenge me, offer advice and keep me accountable. The online forum is an invaluable knowledge base, and I have access to resources I normally would not have access to. Each member has different strengths that I can draw on to help improve my business. If there is a problem I am going through, usually there is someone going through the same situation or someone that has experience in solving that same problem. The forum is also a place where I can find vendors or resources that have already been vetted. The forum is an invaluable, large pool of resources and a support system that has improved my business.
Thanks to Michelle Ellis, Cottage and Bungalow!
#10- Never Underestimate Your Gut Check
Business is a wonderful roller coaster replete with its ups and downs. And at certain points, key decisions must be made. As a CEO, when you’re tasked with making a tough decision that could impact the overall direction of the company, you can objectively weigh the pros and cons, consider market conditions or company strengths, do a cost analysis and forecasting and even receive candid opinions from close confidantes, but when decision time comes, there’s one test that will never fail you: the gut check. Listen to your inner voice and allow your intuition to guide you to success.
Thanks to Linda Parry Murphy, Product Launchers!
#11- Three tips
Be open to change and STAY organized (calendar, to do lists, and excel sheets AND my favorite : JOURNALING (goals, gratitude and affirmations) I recently have broken off into the entrepreneurial world FULL time as of January 2018 ! I am proud to say my business is taking the Marketing and Entertainment world further then I ever could have imagined! I have been constantly open to change and whatever has been thrown at me even at the VERY last minute of times. I also have started to stay SUPER organized with daily meetings, to do lists , utilize my excel sheets to stay on top of my invoices what’s coming in and going out of my business.Taking 10 minutes everyday to go through and stay up to date with ALL of this allows you to NOT overwhelm yourself at last minute when it comes to tax season and ALSO allows you to not be overwhelmed forgetting meetings and your daily lists of things to do! Be present and focus on today with a list or goals for the new year! I also cannot forget some of my favorite things I do daily JOURNALING : daily gratitude journals/reading affirmations are life changing as well!
Thanks to Jaclyn Zukerman, JZ Social Enterprises, LLC!
#12- Don’t do it on your own
I say to everyone, if you’re unhappy you should do something about it. Working for someone else is hugely rewarding, simple and relatively stress-free. The problem is you probably have no control over what and how the business will run. Freelancing is relatively simple, if you’re happy to stay as a one-man-band, you have lots of freedom but it can be a bit of a feast or famine. Going to the next step and setting up a studio on your own is a huge daunting challenge, but will provide you with pure creative freedom and push you into areas of life that can be equally fun and challenging. I’d strongly recommend not doing it on your own. Two heads are better than one and you’ll want another person to share decisions, tricky situations, cover you when you need a break etc. The reality is you can’t do everything, and it helps to play to each other’s strengths and experiences – in a nutshell, someone needs to do the work and someone needs to find the work. No-one said it would be easy, but the bigger the personal risk, the bigger the personal reward to watch something you’ve created grow.
Thanks to Richard Barnes, Buffalo 7!
#13- Treat every relationship with care
My best advice to business owners is this: treat every relationship with care. Networking isn’t just about exchanging details and calling on one another when it’s most convenient for you. It’s about long-lasting, mutually beneficial relationships that help both you and your ventures grow. Keep in touch, attend each other’s events, and boost each other’s progress. There’s great potential to create positive, helpful relationships through business contacts.
Thanks to Matt Bentley, CanIRank SEO Software!
#14- Stay True to The Brand
Everyone will give you advice. People with and without expertise, knowledge in what you do, how you do it or what you desire to accomplish. You must stay true to you. Only you know what you do and where you want to go. You know what your brand is. Most often, they don’t. Whatever your brand is, stay true to it. Don’t veer off doing everything everyone else says. Stay true to you.
Thanks to Trisha Trixie
#15- Develop a strategic vision
Don’t make your vision like a wisp of cloud; make a defined, precise strategic vision for your company. Don’t plan on 200% growth in the next 30 days. Pick a specific date, and make it realistic. Where do you want to be on X date? What steps will it take to get there? Who will need to be a part of this vision to make it successful? Lastly, determine the obstacles you may encounter and how you will overcome each one.
Thanks to Dr. Ty Belknap, MyCoach.Life!
#16- Never quit your day job without a contingency plan
My best business advice as an entrepreneur is to never quit your day job without a contingency plan. I hear often from new entrepreneurs that they quit their jobs to focus on their own businesses. Believe it or not, I am able to work a 9-5 and still grow Love Cork Screw. So please, find a way to manage both and build in each area.
Thanks to Chrishon Lampley, Love Cork Screw wines!
#17- Three tips
First, understand that your products and services are not for everyone. Second, figure out who your target audiences actually are. Third, craft your marketing and social media engagement efforts to resonate with your target audiences. Provide information and entertainment content that will engage those target audiences and encourage them to know, like and trust you.
Thanks to Phyllis Zimbler Miller, Miller Mosaic!
#18- Pay attention to both positive and negative experience
“Build on the positive and negative experiences your business has faced; both will make your business thrive in the future. If a project wasn’t as successful as you originally planned, create a monthly report reviewing this process, instead of dwelling on it. For instance, you may have previously launched a campaign to create brand awareness for your business, but it didn’t receive the coverage you hoped for because you are a new brand. Instead of branding this as a failure, summarise what you and your team could work to improve next time, detail what you missed out and what other opportunities you can seek out to improve your ideas and business projects. Ignorance is not bliss when it comes to a new business. It’s important you keep an eye on competitors, too, so you are aware of what they are doing differently to you and how you can build on this too, with your own creative spin. For instance, think about being controversial, to get your business noticed and keep your website, content and ideas current.
Thanks to Steve Pritchard, Cuuver!
#19- Work on your dream
Spend a little time every day working on whatever you’re currently dreaming about. Whether it’s a new business, a new product, a book, whatever. Don’t get so busy working that you forget to spend time dreaming. Dreaming and doing what you love are sometimes the beginnings of great businesses. On the same note, don’t be afraid to just jump in. If there’s something you’re interested in, explore it. If you have an interesting idea, share it. You’re not going to get it right every time and that is okay. Don’t be afraid to fail. Those failures are going to help mold, shape, and send you in the direction you are meant to be.
Thanks to Lisa Pinnell, Binxy Baby Shopping Cart Hammock!
#20- Always offer something of value
If what you’re selling or saying has no merit, your audience will see right through it. You want to build a culture of authenticity so people can turn to you or your products knowing that they’ll receive high quality and attention to detail on whichever industry you choose to focus on. This is imperative in this day and age because consumers are bombarded with information everywhere they go. In order to stick out, you must be as honest as possible.
Thanks to Harrison Doan, Saatva!
#21-Slow down to speed up
Thanks to Suz O’Donnell, Thrivatize LLC!
The best business (and life) advice I’ve received is to have the confidence to fearlessly follow your instincts or gut. It’s advice that’s easy to devalue as a cliche, but it’s difficult to actually implement and invaluable once you do. This has made all the difference for me to focus in life and work. On reflection, I realised how many times I had felt something wasn’t quite right, stayed in a career or role too long, etc, but didn’t move fast enough and could only see this clearly with the benefit of hindsight. In leading Tabl, a quickly growing food community and marketplace, I’m challenging myself and the team everyday to do this – bringing us closer together in our mission and what were working to deliver for our community.
Thanks to Kimberly Hurd, Tabl!
#23-Be curious and believe in your idea
Believe wholeheartedly in your idea no matter what anyone says, but also be objective enough to take the right feedback on board. Expanding on that point slightly too, you definitely need to get used to rejection. It’s difficult at first, but just don’t let it mean anything – it’s a fact of life that not everyone is going to agree with you. I’d also say curiosity. It’s pretty easy to find the right tools to teach you about things you don’t know – and if you really don’t have those skills, find people who do that can help you.
Thanks to Lana Elie, Floom!
#24- Have genuine trust
The foundation and long-term growth of a company is honesty (and as much transparency as possible). It is our #1 value at StickerYou. Vision and strategy all impact performance a lot. Passion is infectious throughout an organization. A great culture can bond the people of a company. However, like a house of cards, if there is not a genuine trust in the honesty of the people within the company then the long-term success of a company is rarely sustainable. Honesty allows people to perform far more efficiently, and execute with clear focus and understanding of what they are trying to achieve. It allows them to believe in the culture, passion, vision and strategy of a company. People’s talent is far more creative and innovative when they are dealing with the facts, even if the goals or challenges are difficult. People need to believe – and when they do they can accomplish amazing things.”
Thanks to Andrew Witkin, StickerYou!
#25- Seek out a win-win situation
When faced with an obstacle, seek out a win-win situation when dealing with your patients, business partners, contractors and suppliers. It’s always more beneficial to work together and find common ground. Every once in a while, I get a patient who is unsatisfied with a treatment I provided. When this happens, I always offer to do the treatment again for free, and if they’re still unhappy, then I give them a full refund. Usually, the patient is so surprised by my generosity that they become lifelong clients. So it’s a win for them and a win for me.
Thanks to Dr. Haissam Dahan, Ottawa TMJ & Sleep Apnea Clinic!