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- Find your style
One of the most powerful lessons I've learned is that your way really is the only way. I see so many business owners buying online course after online course chasing other business owners styles of success. At the end of the day, until you find YOUR style, success won't find you. It's impossible to perfectly recreate someone else's processes and techniques. Adapt them, embrace them, however, make them yours. It's your unique style and brand that will help endear your customers to you.
Thanks to Sacha Brant, Sassy Lasses!
#2- Focus on WHO You Need to Be
Don’t Focus on What You Need to Do to Succeed, Instead Focus on WHO You Need to Be. Most business advice focuses on what you need to do or the mindset you need to have to succeed. Instead, focus on becoming WHO you need to be to create the business success you want. You need to continually evolve to be the person you need to be to create—and sustain—your next level of success. Otherwise you—and your business—will get stuck. This doesn’t mean taking action and the having the right mindset isn’t important. But if you’re not who you need to be, the actions you take won’t get you where you want to go. Striving for a “success mindset will be a struggle and can even lead you away from achieving the very success you desire. When you are who you need to be, you’ll be clear, committed, congruent and take the consistent actions required to maximize your business, brand, and marketing.
Thanks to Dr. Fern Kazlow, The No Doubt Zone™!
#3- Bring value
Believe in your value: don't compromise the cost of your product or service to be the lowest price in the market. Be the best value in the market. Understand that these are two very different things. Also bring value in the way that you communicate and serve your clients. Clients need to trust you, rely upon you and know what to expect. When you are proactive, remove headaches, solve problems and eliminate their stress clients will stay with you and your company for years if not longer.
Thanks to Robert Basso, Associated Human Capital Management!
#4- Focus on customer satisfaction
A happy customer is a repeat customer. That’s true for any business and especially so if you’re running an international e-commerce business because you are physically disconnected from your customer. High-quality products for reasonable prices, fast and affordable shipping and great customer service are all part of the package you need to offer. A satisfied customer will mention you to others so make it worth their while by offering rewards for those precious referrals. If you maintain a conversation with your customers online, through a mailing list and social media, you’ll find that they are loyal and willing to share their interest in your product.
Thanks to David Nicholls, OFX.com!
Put yourself out there and meet people by joining local networking groups. Once you’ve joined a networking group or two, meet as many people as you can! Set up one-on-one meetings with people to see how you can help each other out. If you’re meeting with someone who runs a landscaping company and you know someone who’s looking to have some landscaping work done, put them in touch! The more you’re able to help other people out, the more likely they’ll be to return the favor for you.Bottom line: Join local networking groups to meet new people and expand your network. Help out as many people as you can to increase the chances of them returning the favor for you.
Thanks to Andrew Schutt, Elevated Web Marketing!
#6- Go with your gut
My tip for success – don't take tips!When I started 247meeting more than 10 years ago, I got in contact with people I knew who had successfully started their own business. One meeting stands out for me – my good friend Mark had set up a (now) very successful electronic financial trading company. He said to me you're going to become the expert so don't listen to the experts. He meant that I could talk to mentors, consultants and advisers but ultimately I had to go with my gut and make decisions based on my experience and knowledge which an outsider couldn't have.I find myself thinking about that anytime I meet someone who gives me some advice about running my business. I listen to all of it patiently, and I act on the 5% that resonates with me. For the other 95%, I smile and thank the ‘advisor' politely for their insights and say That's interesting, I must look into that. I never do.
Thanks to Gavan Doherty, 247meeting!
#7- Focus on businesses that have recurring revenue models
Initial business success is usually driven by sales or the prospect of future sales. If your business is project-based or targets one-time purchases, then each project or transaction has to be replaced with another just to maintain revenue. This puts a tremendous amount of pressure on new business and sales. Recurring revenue models with high retention rates can support periods of slow new business growth and maintain revenue and profitability amounts. Also, it can be easier to get predictable growth with a recurring model.
Thanks to Ajay Pattani, Perfect Search Media!
#8- Own mistakes
My best business tip would be to own mistakes, even if they're not directly your own. If an employee makes a mistake that causes an issue for a client, own it and offer a solution, as well as an explanation of how the mistake will be avoided in the future. Do not throw your employee under the bus, as, at best, it appears to the client that you do not have control over your organization. Even if the mistake is on the part of the client, offer an explanation, but also own the problem of miscommunication, or something else that gives the client a way out. Even if you're right, proving a client wrong gains you nothing.
Thanks to Courtney Barbee, The Bookkeeper!
#9- Be informed
In this digital-first world, there's no greater investment in self-improvement that an entrepreneur can make than a good base education in digital marketing. There is huge potential for business growth and high return on investment in digital marketing channels such as SEO, PPC Advertising and Social Media Marketing. But the speed at which these media are changing and evolving can make it difficult to ensure your advertising dollars are spent in the right place to ensure maximum return, and the
technical elements of such activities can be a minefield for the ill-informed. Whether you're handling your own digital marketing or working with an agency, it pays to be informed in order to ask the right questions, provide the right information and make the best decisions for your business in order to get maximum return on your investment and growth for your business. Knowledge is power.
Thanks to Emma Knightly, Digital Marketing Institute!
#10- Financial management
The best business tip I've received involves financial management. It's not how much money passes through your hands, it's how much sticks to it. This saying helped me early on to focus on net profit, opposed to just top-line revenue. Many new businesses try to grow at all costs, which just results in costs they can't absorb in the long-run. Having a mindset on the bottom line has helped shape the way my business is operated on every level. It's also allowed us to grow at the right times, without having to worry about cash flow.
Thanks to Ben Camerota, MVP Visuals!
It’s incredibly important to have good follow-up skills regarding new people you meet. If you’re introduced to someone, get a business card and follow up via email the day after. Do this with literally everyone you meet in public – whether a lead, new customer, potential partner or collaborator. I found that in the beginning, setting reminders for myself to follow-up was helpful.
Thanks to Michael Sunderland, Full Stack Talent!
#12- Build relationship with clients
Listening to your clients is just as important as doing the work itself. I always say that if you don’t listen to your clients' needs and feedback, the work you set out to do is a waste. If you don’t climb inside the mind of your client, you automatically open yourself up to mistakes. Building relationships with your clients is so important; you need to understand what they require from you and what they envisage your approach to be so that you can build on their ideas and do the best job you possibly can. Transparency is key, *and* can only be achieved if you really listen to your client and clarify what it is they want the end product to look like.
Thanks to Steve Pritchard, Cuuver.com!
#13- Find new contacts
Never stop making new relationships with people in every industry you come across, especially if you run a B2C company. You never know who may need your services at some point in the future; building lasting relationships may not pay off straight away, but that person you met five years ago and made the effort to stay in touch with, could become your biggest client. The networking event you attend could mean the difference between breaking even and making a profit in your next business year. Similarly, never forget the people who helped you on the way up, you never know when you may need them further down the line.
Thanks to Grant van der Harst, Anglo Liners!
#14- Make people feel powerful
We place a lot of emphasis on building the Know-Like-Trust (KTL) Factor but that is not enough. People want to feel seen, heard and understood. People have a basic need to be validated and to feel significant and important. They need to know that they matter. Your marketing becomes so much more powerful and effective when you focus on making people feel seen, heard and understood. People buy based on how they feel. The key is to make them feel something powerful.
Thanks to Lindy Lewis, Banking from Breakup!
#15- First focus the budget on finding customers
I recommend NOT spending money on things like fancy brochures, letterhead, business cards, etc. Until you know your business is launched I would say to put your budget into things that help fill your pipeline with customers. Getting your URL and a website up and running is key. I created online stationery for proposals and invoices, ordered my cards online and made downloadable materials as leave-behinds for people looking for more information to help me find clients more quickly. I know other business owners who spent thousands of dollars on these things and found it was a waste of money. Your story will evolve as you find your market, you need to look professional and have a web site to be taken seriously but embossed paper with watermarks and heavy card stock is not going to accelerate your sales cycle. Find those reference customers quickly, use them to get testimonials and referrals. There is plenty of time later to dress things up!
Thanks to Paige Arnof-Fenn, Mavens & Moguls!
#16- Allow more efficiencies
Allow yourself time to focus on creative thinking for your business as well as your health and nurturing relationships with your family and friends. Too often as business owners, we become mired in the details of the business thus becoming overwhelmed and losing sight of our goals. Challenge yourself to delegate more, hire the right staff, or to hone processes to allow for more efficiencies. You may also look to contract with a service provider (e.g. accountant, digital marking company, etc.) to outsource some of your business needs and allow for the provider to become an integral part of your team. Doing so will allow you to make better use of your time. In the end, you'll find that you're a happier business owner and can focus more on setting goals and the relentless pursuit of achieving those goals.
Thanks to Jonathan Marsh, Home Helpers of Bradenton!
#17- Do what works best for you
There isn't a blueprint for success, you have to do what works best for you. When you enter the world of entrepreneurship be willing to do the unexpected, follow your vision even when their's doubters, and as Amazon founder Jeff Bezos once said: entrepreneurs must be willing to be misunderstood for long periods of time. Be a learner, apply useful information that resonates with you, and don't be afraid to try new things. In Jay-Z's song ‘So Ambitious' he said I'm different, I can't base what I'm gon' be Offa what everybody isn't'. Create a lane of your own and trust* your* journey.
Thanks to Alexis Davis, H.K. Productions Inc.!
#18- Being nice is good business
Would you ask a girl you just met on an airport to marry you right there and then? No? Well, then please stop believing that you pulled off a great ‘growth hack' by adding strangers to LinkedIn (and NEVER interact with them) only to start bombarding them with your automated self-serving, self-centered, self-promotional salesy emails. This may not be illegal yet (thanks to the CAN-SPAM act) but not all legal things are good business. So be nice. That's all it takes. Especially if you are playing the long game. And trust me, the only game worth playing is the long game.
Thanks to Syed Irfan Ajmal, Ridester!
#19- Ask three questions
What will I do more of than anyone else? What will I do differently than anyone else?How will I connect with my customers and clients more than anyone else? Answering these questions gives you a direction and focus. I use a business strategy called Category Design to answer these questions and build my unique business. This strategy works by answering those 3 questions, creating a problem only you can solve, and then conditioning the market to receive your unique problem. This creates a huge interest to what you offer and an irresistible promise you will solve this problem.
Thanks to Sean Douglas, The Success Corps!
#20-A clearance search before starting
Before investing in your branding and business development, be sure to have a trademark clearance search completed for your brand name and logo. A clearance search helps you to ensure that you aren't infringing on another business' intellectual property and that you'll be able to secure exclusive ownership over its use. The last thing you want to be dealing with as a new business owner is an infringement lawsuit or a forced re-branding!
Thanks to Yasmine Salem Hamdan, YSH Law Firm!