No-one goes into a business knowing everything to expect. Business has a learning curve. There are things you learn through research or mentorship and there are things you only learn through experience. However prepared a new entrepreneur is, there comes a time early in their business life when they say, “I wish someone had mentioned that.”
This is why learning from the experience of other business people is paramount to the survival of any start-up. Although that certainly will not equip you for every single arduous and unbidden hurdle along the road to becoming a successful entrepreneur, it will guide you through most of the challenges.
Here are Ten important lessons to get you started.
Don’t Abandon Your Mission
A core mission, a prime objective, is the bedrock of every business. It’s what gets you started, and it will be what guides you through the darkest hours in your business life. It’s what nudges you in the right direction when you misstep.
Never forget why you started your business.
It’s Okay to Be Unconventional
The business world has its apparent ‘status quo’. But then making a difference in the world is about diverging from the norm to create something new.
As a CEO, you have your personal beliefs, some of which don’t agree with the perceived business norm. While following the norm can yield good results for your company, the role of a CEO, in this modern age, has gone beyond the results.
It now entails leaving your own mark on the world. It’s now also about the ‘how’—your actions, reactions, influence, and so on. It’s about the legacy you leave behind, about how you impact the world as a CEO.
Become an Expert in Every Aspect of Your Business
A good CEO leads by example. Apart from that, you should be able to temporarily fill up any role in your company if the need arises—for instance, if an employee acts up or misses work, or if extra hands are needed for a task.
Acquaint yourself with the technology used in your company, become conversant with sales, legalese, data entry, and even the manual works. The knowledge will give you more control over your employees and your company as a whole.
Employ Smarter People
You may dread that employing people smarter than you would hurt your ego, but the truth is that if this were a competition, you had already won. As the employer; you were resourceful enough to start a company—something the smarter folk couldn’t do.
If they are truly smart, they would understand you have worked harder than them, and they will respect your decisions.
Never hire people that are ineffective, even if it’s not to save your ego. Either they lead to your company’s downfall or you end up doing most of the work for which you hired them.
Maintain a Backup Plan for Your Employees
As a new company, your resources are probably limited and you want to maintain a lean team. That is okay. However, be mindful of the specialised positions. You need a backup plan for them, as you do not want your operation to decelerate or halt if you lose a team member.
Hire smartly. Hire for growth.
Consider Everything an Experiment
Nothing is perfect in business—neither an idea nor a product. While it’s okay to trust your instincts or make assumptions, you can never really understand the potentials of a product or service until you take it on a field test with real customers.
The first batch may not live up to expectation. With time, however, your products get better, but only if you experiment and learn from the flaws.
Listen to Customers
Every business person knows this. You are in business because of your customers. You cannot convince them to trade more of their hard-earned cash for your product when you can’t even listen and tailor the product to meet their need.
Customer will always leave feedback. Be open-minded. Take suggestions. Implement the viable ones. And produce better products.
Criticism Will Always Come
Whether from customers, rivals, or employees, criticisms are here to stay. Don’t take them so hard. Instead, fish for the gold inside them, and learn to ignore the ones targeting your company’s success.
Also, hold a regular company meeting where your employees can voice their improvement opinions. You may discern a gem that will help your company expand.
Leverage People Who Believe in You
Before establishing your company, you obviously researched your market, and you possibly already had people who loved what you do or make—or perhaps like minds in a network that has an affinity with your niche.
What location are these people in? How did you meet them? What did they love about you, your product, or service? Are there more of them whom you haven’t met? If they are in City A, then that’s where you need to start. Reach out to them first. Then grow from there.
Know When to Say No
With many opportunities out there, this is a discipline every businessperson ought to master. What you need to keep in mind is that opportunities, while enticing, always come with costs, some of which can cripple your company.
Learn to take only what you need. Don’t get greedy simply because opportunities are everywhere. Master focus and discipline.
Learn when and how to say no.
Keep these tips with you all the time, scour the internet for more, and reach out to successful business people for advice, and you may yet scale through any hurdle on your road to becoming a successful businessperson.