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Entrepreneurs Share Their Best Business Advice

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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.

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Everything will take 3 times as long as you expect it to

The best business advice I was ever given was… everything will take about 3 times as long as you expect it to. I have since applied this to building my website, printing, marketing, hiring, getting work, getting paid and a list of other areas. I seldom get frustrated now as my expectations are suitably adjusted.

Thanks to Michael White, Aus Identities

 

Create a daily routine

My very best business advice would be to create a daily routine. As I look back over the success that my wife and I have created, there is no “one day” massive explosion of work that we did to create success, it was a whole bunch of “one days”. Someone wise once said if you want something you’ve never had, you have to be willing to do something(s) you have never done. Whether it’s losing weight, building a million dollar business or accomplishing anything, create a daily routine that combines profit producing activities with being around the right people and team to help you, and you will create success that lasts!

Thanks to Ray Higdon

Related Post: How to Keep Your Business From Becoming Stale

 

Run your business, do not let is run you

Run your business, do not let it run you! Work on your business not in it. Instead of trying to grow my business wherever I can, I look first at what I am seeking personally. Many people say try to find a balance between personal and professionally. There is no such thing. I adjust my business growth and development plan to suit these goals. There is no such thing as self-made. Everybody needs help. Not only is it important to have your own vision but it is important to understand the vision of those around you. No one can do it alone. Everyone needs support and help, or has had help at some phase of the journey from someone. A confident leader inspires people such that they want to be led.

Thanks to George Schildge, Matrix Marketing Group

 

Do what you love

That’s my best business advice. In order for a business to be truly successful, you need to be passionate about what you are doing. There are too many naysayers in this world to tell you, “no, it’s not going to work”. You have to have enough passion and guts to keep moving forward and when you love what you do….you move closer and closer to your goals.

Thanks to Josephine Geraci, My Mom Knows Best, Inc.

 

Follow the golden rule of networking

My best business advice is to follow the Golden Rule of Networking and always help others before you help yourself. When you attend a networking event focus on helping the other person rather than attempting to get referrals for yourself. I typically ask people I meet to tell me about the types of referrals they have received recently from the group so I know who to introduce them to. I will then suggest the names of 3 friends that I think they would benefit from know and ask them if I may introduce them. This will really make you stand out at your next networking event.

Thanks to Kevin Willett, Friends of Kevin

 

If your customers ask for something, find a way to supply it

Successful entrepreneurs know the importance of following the money. When their customers ask for something, these entrepreneurs find a way to supply their customers with whatever they want. That’s what following the money is all about—go where the money leads. After all, you’re in business to make a profit. Successful businesses continue to expand their offerings. They continue to follow the money. Since it’s easiest to sell to your top customers—the hyper-responsive ones—that should be your focus as you follow the money. Become intimately familiar with his or her customer list. To begin with, you should not only identify your top 20%, you should also segment your list by identifying the top 10%, top 5%, and even your top 2 %. Your top 2 to 5% of customers are not your typical customer. They should receive different marketing messages and even different offers than the typical customer. If your goal is to sell as much as possible and achieve the highest possible profits (and that’s a worthy goal), this can be made much easier by selling to your repeat customers in unique and different ways. If you’re not exactly sure which products or services can be profitably added to your arsenal, here’s a very easy way to find out: Ask! Go back to your customer list and focus on your top customers. Create a survey to bounce your ideas off them, and measure the responses. It can be as easy as listing your ideas with a one to ten scale, and have them rate how likely (or unlikely) they’d be to buy or use it. Your current customers are the ones most likely to buy from you again. Find ways to sell more to them. Follow the money: Find out what else your customers want to buy and find ways to provide it for them.

Thanks to Jim Palmer

Related Post: How to Think Outside the Box in Business

 

Stay persistent no matter what

I started up four times and failed thrice. In the three times I failed, the one factor that stood out and mattered most was “persistence.” If I had been persistent, I probably would not have failed. Now with the fourth venture, no matter how many unique challenges come my way, being persistent with my goals has helped me run my business successfully for over two years. Stay persistent with whatever your goal is and pivot if you need to, but don’t quit.

Thanks to Rahul Varshneya, Arkenea

 

Manage cash-flow

Manage cash-flow, manage cash-flow, manage cash-flow. The biggest struggles I have experienced as a business owner came when I did not pay enough attention to cash–flow. There are hundreds of things that weigh on an Owner/CEO’s mind from sales, product, marketing, customer service, etc… But when there’s no money to buy product and pay employees, that’s when the ulcers set in and business either go into more debt or fail. I can’t stress how important it is to make sure you don’t overspend on product and labor to the detriment of cash-flow. Risk and credit are part of running a business and necessary for growth. Just don’t get over-excited hiring and buying product when you start out. Yes, you want to grow as fast as possible, but make sure you have cash available while you wait for your return on sales and hiring.

Thanks to John Burger, Playfully Ever After

Related Post: Get the Debt-Stress Out of Your Business

Surround yourself with other entrepreneurs/business owners

It’s a really lonely journey especially if you are the sole founder of a business. You just have to make decisions on the go and based on your gut without having anyone else by your side to share and provide you with alternative opinions/solutions. Joining networking groups and sharing with fellow entrepreneurs in your local area definitely helps, and getting advice especially from other veteran entrepreneurs whom have been in similar situations like yourself in their earlier years.

Thanks to Deric Loh, Vault Labs

 

Do the right thing

I have had a lot of great mentors in my life along the way who have taught me many valuable lessons. But perhaps the biggest lesson is “Do the right thing.” And when you are building a fresh organization, you need a strong moral compass more than you need a policy. It’s a guiding principal and an incredibly powerful mindset you can use when you’re faced with a difficult decision. And that’s worked for me all these years.

Thanks to Bernard Perrine, HipLogiq

 

Doing the best for your clients in the long-term

This is an old phrase that has been updated slightly for our interpretation: “He who throws mud at others rapidly loses all the ground upon which he stands. Everyone gets dirty in the process too.” This one is mine: “Long term business relationships based on trust are not earned by tearing down the work or character of others by employing negative tactics as a part of your business model. Clients are earned by what you say and more importantly retained by everything you do for them.” We are here for the long term and we care a lot about our clients. Adding any one new account will not make or break our long term financial future. However the way we handle their overall resources and investments will have a huge impact on their future well being. We take that stewardship of their assets responsibility very seriously in my office and it shows.

Thanks to Amy Rose Herrick

 

Chase problems, not money

Having finished “business school” and realizing it wasn’t worth the price-tag, I set out to do something I always wanted to. What was it? To give people $100 and get $10 back. Most people chase money rather then problems. When you chase money it evades you, when you chase problems (and solve them) money is just a bystander to the value you offer other people/businesses. Very few businesses focus on value in the modern day, but the few that do, never have to rely on getting business, business comes to them. Create a competitive advantage by innovation and fulfilling a need, back it up by amazing customer service, then implement systems to scale and you will have a thriving business.

Thanks to Boris Berjan, VidsMedia

 

Measure what is important in your business, and manage to it

I’ve built my career on the credo “you can’t manage, what you can’t measure.” The corollary to that is “in god we trust, everyone else brings data.” Business isn’t a guessing game, it’s a game of numbers that you have to learn to manage, and control. The numbers are everywhere. Marketing and sales – what’s working, what’s not. Accounting and finance – how is the business doing? Product management – pricing, and margins. Figuring out which numbers really drive business results, and then implementing controlled changes to your business that you can visibly see impacting these key performance metrics is critical for your ability to understand and manage the business, and important to you helping your team understand which metrics that they can individually manage to. Good data helps you make good decisions based on facts, not hope. This helps you be a better manager, a better marketer, a better CEO.

Thanks to Edward Hechter, PartyPail.com

Related Post: Qualities That Make a Leader Great

Just get started

My best business advice is to just get started! You business is going to change so much as you move forward so there is no way to plan everything to the last detail. Have a general plan, but be open to changing and altering your business. Most entrepreneurs I coach procrastinate for fear of doing something wrong or making a mistake. Mistakes are going to happen no matter what and you just course correct and learn from them. Others, I work with feel they don’t have the resources to start yet – they stay in the “learning and research” mode for years! But, the best learning and research would be actually starting and doing.

Thanks to Erica Duran

 

Get clear on winning

The best business advice I believe I provide entrepreneurs and leaders (including myself) is to get clear on winning. Premier athletes and elite teams the world over know the power of getting clear on winning before they get in the race. They imagine it. They get clear on what it looks like, what it feels like, and what they must do. And it works because the brain is amazingly powerful. Today’s business leaders have more tasks to accomplish and more responsibilities to fulfill than ever. But none are more important than creating a clear definition of what winning looks like. When an organization lacks a clear destination, it usually has many ill-defined ones. Employees feel unmotivated and uncommitted. Time, talent and resources get wasted on products and projects that go nowhere. And people end up working on their own personal agendas rather than doing what’s best for the company. Having a clear definition of winning provides focus and clarity at the individual, team and organizational level. It gets everyone aligned and working in the same direction. And it motivates and inspires people to perform at their best. When employees know where they’re going and what they need to do to get there, it becomes much easier to reach that destination. Take time every day to get clear on winning; organize your day around it; talk about it constantly; hold yourself and others accountable for achieving it.

Thanks to Holly G. Green, The Human Factor, Inc.

 

Know who you are and what’s important to you

A life-long mentor and successful entrepreneur shared the following with me early in my career. “When you have two people you have an organization. When you have three people, you have politics.” True enough. Workplace politics are a fact of life and often we must deal with the dynamics and personalities involved, particularly as entrepreneurs. My advice would be the following: Know who you are, what’s important to you, and how you want to relate to others around you. With that understanding as your true north, do the best you can to minimize the nonsense and the noise, stay focused and remain committed to your values and beliefs.

Thanks to Mallary Tytel, Simple Rules Foundation

 

Dig where there may be oil

Alternatively: “*dig where there may be gold*”. How many times did you invest time, resources, money or nerves in a lost cause or in a cul-de-sac? If never, congratulations and I want to take lessons with you. But if you did, so you are like me. Sometimes we do not recognize the situation at time and suddenly found ourselves putting efforts there where we will not find anything – or at least nothing as valuable as the investment made. It can be everything: from doing advertisement where you will find no clients, performing some task you could have easily delegated, and even losing time with a person who doesn’t have time for you. So try to ‘dig where there may be oil’, where you might find something. There is no warranty of actually finding oil (i.e. achieving results), but do avoid beginning a trip that leads nowhere. If you anyway do it again, don’t worry since it’s not precisely me who will cast the first stone.

Thanks to Juan María Solare, Janus Music & Sound

Remember to incorporate

The best piece of advice I can give a new entrepreneur or a business owner who has not done so yet, is to incorporate. When you choose to incorporate your business you have a reduced chance of tax audit, save on taxes, get liability protection, and build credibility with your customers. Most people that don’t incorporate say they do so to avoid burdensome paperwork. Some entities require more paperwork than others, but the ones with more paperwork are typically the ones that will reap you the most benefits. Even if when you do your research to see which entity suits you and your business the best, and you find that the one you choose requires a hefty amount of paperwork, don’t get scared off; it is well worth it. Don’t stifle your business from growing, don’t wait to incorporate!

Thanks to Deborah Sweeney, MyCorporation.com

Related Post: How and When Should You Incorporate

 

Your next venture could be staring you in the face

Some people are constantly optimizing everything because they can’t live with the status quo. They’re always looking to upgrade, replace and improve. Often times, the best solution is something that doesn’t exist beyond their imaginations. And the solution, while possibly difficult technically, structurally or economically just seems better. Successful entrepreneurs essentially capitalize on these moments and succeed despite the inherent obstacles because they simply believe the better mouse-trap will ultimately prevail. As a serial entrepreneur, I’ve been through this experience several times.. I start a company, I’m confronted with a problem, and I’m confident I can fix it. Multiple times, this has led me to my subsequent venture. For example, when I co-founded YLighting, the largest modern lighting retailer, we wanted to automate our marketing spending, but we couldn’t find any software that could show us which marketing investments were delivering returns and which were duds, so we built our own. And then I started thinking, if this is a problem for YLighting, it’s a problem for a lot of other companies, too. That realization led to the founding of Convertro. Every company I’ve founded began with an idea I had somewhere else. Those moments come when you recognize an unmet need in the market and can visualize the solution. That instance – the eureka moment – is magic for an entrepreneur. After that, it’s all about maintaining passion for your idea, convincing others to help deliver on your idea, and delivering economic value to the customer.

Thanks to Jeff Zwelling, Convertro

 

Don’t let the thought of spending money stop you from moving forward

The biggest challenge we ever faced was getting funding for our growing garment manufacturing business. We needed to hire more employees, upgrade our computer system and revamp our warehouse. We came up with a million reasons not to spend the money. “It’s not a good time.” “What if our product flops?” “It’s too risky.” We came to realize that if we wanted our company to continue growing we would have to start thinking of the money spent as an investment instead of a dreaded expense. This type of thinking requires a mindset shift because when you invest in your business you’re actually investing in yourself. You have to BELIEVE that you can take that money and turn a profit. Now we’re not saying go crazy and spend all of your money. It’s important to make well-informed investment decisions—ones that improve how your business operates and have the best return potential.

Thanks to Jayne & Brahm Blumenthal, Tag-Team Coaching

Gresham Harkless Jr.

Gresham Harkless is a Media Consultant for Blue 16 Media and the Blogger-in-Chief for CEO Blog Nation. CEO Blog Nation is a community of blogs for entrepreneurs and business owners. Started in much the same way as most small businesses, CEO Blog Nation captures the essence of entrepreneurship by allowing entrepreneurs and business owners to have a voice. CEO Blog Nation provides news, information, events and even startup business tips for entrepreneurs, startups and business owners to succeed.

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