If you ever started a business, you know how painstaking it is to get it right. One of the best ways to make things a little bit simpler is learning the experience of people who already nailed it. Most of them are eager to share their knowledge and experience with others which is great for the ones who only start.
We’ve got interested in the matter and decided to explore the experiences, opinions, growth and productivity tips of entrepreneurs and sum up everything in a single list. Here’s what they are saying.
1. Write down your ideas.
You’d be surprised how many entrepreneurs say it really works. Most people don’t take it seriously: if you’d have a wonderful idea, you’d hardly forget it, right? But apart from brilliant breakthrough ideas you might come up with, there are thousands of things you have to deal with every day. Each of these things can have a new solution. That’s why don’t rely on your memory too much – write those ideas down and come back to them whenever you’ve got time. This way you’ve got a good overview of all possible solutions and nothing gets lost.
2. Build the networks – both up and down.
It’s really important to find your way to build valuable and meaningful connections with different people. For example, experts will provide you with advice on how else you can grow your business, mentor you and give access to their own target audience.
Working your way down means communicating with startup owners and beginning entrepreneurs. Sometimes it can be a start of a very promising partnership. Remember that you once were in the same shoes and you’d really appreciate if someone helped you to rise.
3. Talk to everyone.
Peers, customers, experts, bloggers – everyone who took interest in you can help you in their own way and do it for free. They can mention your business in their blogs, include links to your content, recommend it to their friends and share it in their social media, like you, tweet about you and much more. So talking to them and learning from them is going to be an important part of your strategy.
4. Listen carefully.
Being open to suggestions is a great way to build meaningful relationships. For you it’s a new pool of fresh ideas you can think over and apply to your business. Listening to the right feedback can guide you and help to improve performance.
5. Select what is right for your particular business.
The trick is to balance advice. Approaching things a bit skeptically and giving them a second thought could be very helpful. Self-confidence is important too. After all, it’s your vision and skills that made it possible to start your business. So listen carefully but trust your experience and intuition as well.
6. Choose the right people.
If you don’t like people you’re working with, it’s going to be hard for everyone. Making sure you employ someone who’s genuinely interested in working for you and further motivating them is important. This way you can permanently explore new opportunities and make the most of them.
7. Build your brand.
Your brand is going to be the only thing to distinguish you in the marketplace and show your customers the unique value proposition of your products. It’s going to be very difficult but as Gary Vaynerchuk has put it: “There is no substitute for honest hard work.” Building a strong brand will reward you sooner or later.
8. Learn all the time.
No matter what business you’re in it’s always about learning the new, better ways of doing something. Being open to learning is crucial. Most entrepreneurs would probably object: how are we to learn permanently if we don’t have enough time? Well, that’s the challenge and part of your strategy has to be figuring out how you can constantly add value to your knowledge and skills. Most of us just do it on the go.
Here're 4 simple but effective ways to speed up learning even if it seems to be little time for it.
“The best advice I ever got was that knowledge is power and to keep reading.” – David Bailey
So much is already said about the power of reading that we won’t repeat all the arguments here. It just works – everyone would confirm this. Reading different things (both related to your business and not) adds to your knowledge, makes you culturally appealing and immensely grow your imagination and creativity.
10. Work part-time.
Here’s some handy advice from our interview with Melinda Emerson, CEO of Quintessence Multimedia and #1 Woman for Entrepreneurs to Follow on Twitter according to Forbes:
“To my mind you need to evaluate what skills you have and what skills you need to run your particular business. I always tell small business owners that they should go work part-time for business like the one they want to start so they can get a real knowledge of what skills are required to run their particular kind of business. I don’t want to see entrepreneurs start a restaurant just because they like to eat. I want them to start a restaurant because they know something about running a restaurant.
I believe people should start their businesses while still working because it takes 12 to 18 months for a small business to break even, let alone replace your corporate salary. So I think part of their strategy should be figuring out how they are going to work and run a business at the same time.”
Want to get more advice from America’s most renowned small business expert? Read the rest of the interview with Melinda.
11. Write a lot of emails.
While a lot of entrepreneurs are disappointed with emails, it’s still a very effective way to reach out to your customers. The so-called “cold emails” should still be one of your major communication tools if you don’t want to waste any opportunity to build valuable networks. Sometimes the distance between your business and a customer is just one email long.
12. Track your performance and progress.
If you don’t precisely measure both your performance and your progress, you won’t be able to get an actionable insight into how you can improve and grow. Chances are good that you already use a number of apps and tools to speed things up and save time. Track your time, your social media success, your costs – the more tangible your performance is, the more odds there are for you to manage it effectively.
13. Mistakes are ok.
Falling short of your expectations or plans will occur sooner or later. It’s just impossible to succeed at everything all the time. So part of your strategy should be embracing those mistakes and failures and learning the most out of them. It’s your entrepreneurial spirit that matters – you know the end goal and the possible ways to reach it. In your travels of doing it you can (and will) fail but that should not stop you.
Any growth and productivity tips you’d like to share with the rest of us? Feel free to tell us about it.