Starting a business is daunting for anyone. Its one of the scariest and riskiest professional experience, but it can also be one of the most rewarding. To go from working for someone else to becoming the master of your destiny career-wise is a feeling I hope every entrepreneur gets to feel at some point in their life.
As someone who has had the privilege to work alongside some fantastic and transformational founders, here are a few tips that I thought could help:
1. Be Different
Recognize what makes you and your company unique and grow from it. Being contrarian and right is how epic companies are build and it starts with not being afraid to be different. As you first start your journey to starting a successful business, you’ll be tempted to copy what you see as successful, and imitate that success; DON’T. One of the most valuable things a new company has is its unique and specific perspective; keep this as long as possible! With time, all companies regress and devolve into imitating some elements of other companies and that’s ok but I firmly believe in starting from a point of original thought and inspiration.
2. Never Stop Learning
Make it a goal to learn at least one new thing a day. If you have this mindset, your way of thinking will naturally be open to accepting the avalanche of new thoughts and ideas that will be hitting your desk daily. Being open to new information creates a more receptive pattern of thought, and having which will allow you to worry less about overlooking or underappreciating a minute detail that may end up having more importance to the overall picture than you originally thought. Never be complacent; seek out new information! The most impressive entrepreneurs I’ve ever worked with were voracious learners.
3. Treat People With Respect and Empathy
Face it, no one wants to do business with a grouch or a jerk. As an entrepreneur you will be interacting with many constituents constantly: investors, employees, business partners. Treating them with respect and empathy to better understand their perspective will allow you to be a much better leader and partner and ultimately much better understood and desired as a potential business partner.
4. Face Your Fears
Starting a business is frightening; embrace this fear! Become the antelope who flees so agilely from the cheetah he overcomes the leader of the pack. Fear is one of the most powerful motivators, use this to your advantage and not only will you be succeeding as an entrepreneur, but you’ll also have turned a possible disadvantage into an advantage that sets you apart from the competition.
5. Kill Your Procrastination
The biggest threat to your business is procrastination and lack of motivation. Procrastination has no generative purpose, no good qualities, and nothing to add to your business besides regret and remorse. Therefore, kill it. Be adamant in your disgust of procrastination and this viewpoint will spread throughout your company like wildfire. Remember, Procrastination is the ultimate enemy of progress. Build now.
6. Surround Yourself With Quality
This is to say, don’t cut corners. Every small part of your business is a representation of the overall big picture; therefore every small part of your business deserves to be the best that it can be. Surround yourself with quality, and quality will exude from everything your business does and creates. There’s a saying I’ve often heard: “Hire an ‘A’ player and they will hire other ‘A’ players. Hire a ‘B’ player and they will hire ‘C’ and ‘D’ players down the road.”
7. Keep Striving for More
Never be happy with what you have, and always reach for more! There is no limit to the amount of success your business can achieve. The only ceiling that exists for your success is the one that you place there. Learn to never be satisfied with where you are, and you’ll always have the motivation to keep working for more.
8. Admit Your Mistakes…And Move On
Every beginning business owner is going to make mistakes, in fact, every veteran business owner occasionally makes mistakes, as well. The difference is in how these two people handle the fallout of those mistakes. The inexperienced owner will have a tendency to pass this blame to someone else in order to save face and appear perfect, setting a horrible example for those around him. The veteran owner can admit his mistakes whole-heartedly, knowing that he has used this opportunity to learn, and then move on with level-headed gumption to the next project.
9. Be a Good Listener
Keep your ears, eyes, and mind open. In other words, be attentive! As small business owners become CEOS and board-room attendees, their ego tends to grow with the business, and they become less receptive to the inner-workings (minutiae) of the company. Keep in mind that every piece and every position at your company is important and critical to the success of the overall big picture. Remember the Tom Hardy quote: “treat the janitor with the same respect as the CEO”, and learn to live it. Some of the best advice I’ve ever gotten has come from the most unexpected people and places.
Make smiling a habit. Not only will it raise your morale and make you feel better, but it’ll raise the morale of all those around you, as well, maintaining the positive and generative workplace necessary for a successful, profitable business. A smile from the boss says, “Everything’s going great. Keep it up!”