When you first set out in business you take advice from every business guru out there. You learn as much as possible from those around you and try and remember every piece of knowledge that you read about, on and off line.
But at some point your own business instincts must kick-in. You simply can’t rely on others to make your business decisions for you. This feels like it’s easier said than done but the best thing you can do to take your business on into the next phase is to become more confident in your business decisions and trust your instincts even more.
In this blog, we take a look at the key 8 facts business leaders want you to know as you start to develop and grow your own business and help you learn to be your own best boss.
It’s absolutely fine to get things wrong. Some of the greatest entrepreneurs in history have made costly, not to mention very public, mistakes and somehow gone on to wealth and success in any case.
Warren Buffet, Steve Jobs and Ariana Huffington all experienced early setbacks but with determination and a lot of self-belief went on to become household names, not just achieving but excelling in their fields. Whether you sell spare parts for computers or offer free fax online services, you’re going to need to learn on the job.
The greatest thing you can do when failure strikes is to accept it and to learn from it. Failing without understanding why will doom you to repeat the same mistakes in a loop. Knowing where you went wrong and having the grit to pick yourself up and get right back to it: that’s how you turn your business into a success.
You may have a very clear idea of what your business looks like and how it’s going to perform. You may know what your strengths are and where you believe your niche lies. But if your business is not starting to fly within six months of taking off, chances are you’ve called that niche wrong,
Many, many entrepreneurs struggle to accept that they may have got that initial niche wrong or started pitching it incorrectly to their customer base. They simply plough on, throwing more money into a startup that’s ultimately doomed to failure.
That’s why a flexible approach is one of the greatest assets in your early startup career. Flexibility might mean listening to one of your colleagues who wants to just slightly change the way you market yourself, or the friend in business who suggests you offer a slightly different service. Rather than dismiss these suggestions out of hand, explore them fully and logically and your power to adapt may just save that startup.
In an ideal world you would have the monopoly when it comes to your product and there would be no-one to challenge your soaring sales growth month on month.
But would it be idyllic? Would, in fact, it lead to complacency? Complacency over the quality of your product and complacency in your attitude towards your customer base. It would and that’s why a little competition is how you get to be at the top of your game.
Competition that is thriving and driving you both forwards is also the sign of a healthy business environment. You’re not scratching around for customers, you’re both doing well and enjoying the benefits of being one of only a few companies working to be the best in their fields.
When it comes to the competition, embrace the rivalry and learn from the great things they do. Learn from the not-so-great things they do too. Take on board some of the tactics they use that work and avoid the mistakes to make your business perform better and better.
Yes, you’re quite capable of running everything yourself. You have the talents and skills to cover your marketing, your accounting and run your core services but should you? The answer is no. When you dilute your skills and spread yourself thinly you don’t leave yourself with neither the time nor the internal resources to concentrate on the area you should be focussing on, namely delivering your service or product.
It is hard to delegate parts of your business to the care of others, but the benefit is two-fold. First with a great team you’ll be able to grow your business. Hire the right professionals who share your vision and your business will benefit from the different skill sets and the dedication of people other than you.
The other clear benefit is more of a personal one as you learn the skills of leadership, leading by example and figuring out how to best motivate and drive your team forward to greater success. For many industry leaders, knowing they’ve inspired a whole new generation of future entrepreneurs is a feeling of great personal achievement.
And that’s why it’s fine to find yourself a mentor, even when you feel you’ve been in business a while and aren’t sure if there’s much more you can learn. Find people who inspire you, take them for lunch, meet with them regularly and just listen to the wisdom they dispense. You’ll be surprised at what they’ll be able to help you with, learnt from years at the coal face.
While the older mentor is worth his or her weight in gold, don’t be quick to dismiss younger people either. That fresh-out-college graduate might just have learnt some new business tactics that you can monopolise on. Young talent is the lifeblood of many businesses so it’s worth taking a stand to career fairs and meeting soon to be graduates who may just help to bring a little innovation to the way you do business.
The minute you tell yourself you’ve learned everything there is to know about your business, is the minute your competition scoops you, so stay ahead of the game.
And not just with your customers. If you want to not only survive but perhaps even enjoy running your business, creating and maintaining great relationships is crucial. Your customers are real people and as such should be treated with respect, in the same way your team needs to see that their leader is someone who cares for their welfare. Keep those good relationships extended to your suppliers, your consultants, your landlord and your business competitors.
Businesses are made and broken on the back of relationships so pay careful attention to the way you treat people and foster those relationships.
Yes if you’re going to build a business from scratch, there are going to be sacrifices along the way. Holiday in the first year? Forget about it. Just not going to happen. You will have to have the support of your friends and family in order to succeed. They will have to accept that the first year is going to be tough on everybody, it just will but it will get better.
Your work/life balance will be non-existent but for so many businesses that’s exactly what it takes so get your brain around how much you will be working initially and take that family holiday now while you’re still able to.
What can be just as damaging is the toll starting up a business can have on your physical and mental health. It just is a stressful process and there’s very little you can do about that in those early days other than find some methods to cope with the stress and believe that it will lessen as you get the ball rolling. Again this is where the support of your friends and family is so crucial.
As you grow it’s easy to forget your core values. You may find yourself looking for better ways to save money and time in your business but forget how important it is to your customer to have that one-to-one attention. There’s nothing wrong with innovation and growth, quite the opposite but your reputation is built on trust and your core values so stay true to those even through your growth periods.
It’s this commitment that will help keep your customers committed to you so don’t overlook the small details.
Running your business requires dedication, sacrifice and nerves of steel. There will be soaring highs and crushing lows as you learn as you go. Prepare to succeed, prepare to grow and with that success bring in team members who play to your own weaknesses and help drive your business forward in those key areas.
Learn from the competition, learn from the voices of experience and of youth and don’t be afraid of innovation that might just give you the cutting edge. Find your niche and be prepared for the experience of your life as you turn your dreams into reality.