As an entrepreneur, it is understandable if you want to be 100% ready before starting your business. But know this- when it comes to establishing a business, you can never be completely prepared. The truth is, most of the valuable lessons you learn will come through experience.
The stats have it that 90 percent of startups fail within the first five years after take-off. While these stats may be valid, it does not have to be your business.
So we have put together 10 valuable lessons from successful entrepreneurs to help you along the way. True, these lessons are not all there is to learn, so you will have to figure out the others along the way.
1. Find a why
He who has a why can endure any how- Frederick Nietzsche
An understanding of your why means knowing your reason for being. And this encompasses joy, a sense of purpose and meaning, and the feeling of well-being.
Yes, this is what gets you up in the morning and moves you throughout the day. It is a source of strength for any entrepreneur.
There will tough days. In most cases, you will have to take responsibility when things go south. You having a why is imperative at this point.
Now take a step back to think about what gets you out of bed every morning.
2. Define your niche From the beginning
Once you have found your why decide where it fits in with your talents and the change it brings.
For us at Konveyo, our big “WHY” is reducing the carbon footprint in our environment. So we provided a clever way to achieve this while moving- reducing the number of people that have to be on the road by creating a platform where Konveyo can help other people deliver packages and make money in the process.
Now you can think about ways to monetize them and identify a business niche.
Remember that whatever it is you are interested in, there has to be a market you can carve out your niche and fulfill your why.
3. Assemble a great team
The entrepreneurial journey is difficult and even worse when you do it alone. Quite true, you will see a lot of quotes about how the journey is lonely. But it does not have to be that way. No, not when you have a great team.
Hence build a team that should consist of five people to guide you on your way to success.
The first person is the one who questions the things you do and asks the right questions. The second person helps you network and introduces you to the right people. The third is the challenger, whose sole job is to push you to be your best as both a person and an entrepreneur. The fourth person should help you leverage the lessons learned along your entrepreneurial journey and grow from them. And finally, the fifth advisor should constantly challenge you by offering different perspectives. This way, you can open up your field of view.
A good team will put you on the road to success and also make your journey more enjoyable.
4. Outsource as much as You can
As an entrepreneur, you are likely a hard-working kind of person who wants every facet of your business to be perfect. Because of that, you may end up taking on more than you can handle. But when the time comes when your business is growing fast, it is better to think about outsourcing.
As much as you would love to get things done by yourself, outsourcing your work to another company, contractor, or even a freelancer, will be in the best interest of the business.
Some important things to consider outsourcing are your bookkeeping and accounting.
Aside from the obvious benefits of not trying to do this yourself, you will also benefit from the knowledge of a financial professional who knows the ins and outs of the business.
You can hire a professional on Konveyo. It is easy. All you have to do is signup here.
5. You need to develop a business plan.
To succeed, develop your solid business plan. Take out your time to write it down, do not outsource.
A business plan will help you steer your business as you start and grow. Think of a business plan as a GPS to get your business going.
You will use your business plan as a guide on how to structure, run, and grow your new business.
Having a business plan also allow you to work through many iterations of your business. You can try stuff, fail, and try again. Not when you have moved your product or service to market and dropped $150k on development.
And then, there is the aspect of funding. Business plans can help you get funding or bring on new business partners. Having one in place will give investors the confidence that they will see a return on their investment. Your business plan is the tool you will use to persuade others that working with you (or investing in your business) is a clever decision.
6. Ask for help
As your company grows, it is a clever move to ask for help. It is quite a pity most entrepreneurs do not even realize when they need to ask for help.
You can look up these signs to know the right time to ask for help. If you have built a good team, this is where they come in.
Also, leveraging networks and alumni connections are critical to launch and grow your business successfully.
Many successful entrepreneurs believe once you have gone through the exercise of building your own business, it is infectious, and others will ultimately believe in your authentic passion.
7. Learn to manage your relationships
The value and importance of relationships can not be an overpass. In the beginning, you will spend a lot of time with your head pouring over a computer screen. You will feel lonely and a little isolated.
It is easy to get caught up in your endless to-do list, but then do not lose sight of your most important asset — and that is people and your relationships.
Make sure that you are making time to connect with pre-existing contacts and investing your time in networking. Even if you hate making small talk, identify and take advantage of opportunities where you can meet others in your local business community.
You can check out the article, how to make it easy to manage your relationships in business. It shares some vital tips on managing relationships.
Another vital action you can take is to look online. Maybe to social media for groups, you can join. There you can start building relationships with people both inside and outside your niche. Go to where your customers are, and also learn from the professionals within your industry.
Make sure you are returning emails and voicemails within a reasonable period, and always follow through. Do what you say you will do.
Having a good network of valuable contacts is a great way to build support for your business and is also one of the fundamental building blocks of your success as an entrepreneur. When you manage your relationships, the rest will follow.
8. Figure out your high-value activities
When you are starting as a new entrepreneur, the team is usually small. So there are always a lot of tasks one for one person to handle. In addition to working on things that make you money, there is a pile of work that goes into setting up your business.
Determining your high-value activities and focusing on them as much as possible makes good business sense, and you are likely to see a much bigger return on the investment of your time over the short and long term.
While it might be easy to think that you can do everything, this is a bad habit to get into that will start you off on the wrong foot and set you up long term for a life of overwhelm.
Instead of tinkering away at a website when you have no technical ability or trying to learn the basics of financial accounting late at night, you can spend your time building and sustaining value. It could be business development, product or service refinement, client meetings, networking, or sharpening your skills by taking a course.
9. Get a solid task management system.
Today economy is dynamic. For this reason, running a business can be challenging when you do not have a proper task management system to schedule tasks and keep track of your goals. Little wonder 97.5% of businesses struggle to complete all their projects on time successfully.
Also, as the business grows, the workload does too. Hence, it becomes difficult to memorize everything. For example, say you manage a restaurant. You have to keep track of daily inventory; schedule worker shifts, assign work, and then readjust in case of critical tasks, etc. Those activities are a lot to keep track of, and if you try to manage everything with notes, whiteboards, paper checklists, or mere memory, you are setting yourself up for failure.
Again, this leads to decreased productivity, inefficient task management, missed deadlines, and most importantly, reduced profits.
That is why you need a task management system that can help.
10. Build a personal brand as well as your company brand.
Many entrepreneurs make the mistake of focusing on building their company brand without carving a personal brand.
Here is why you should consider building a personal brand.
People do not do business with companies. People will prefer to do business with people they like. We build relationships on the foundations of trust and mutual connections. These human connections create a level of endearment and customer loyalty. Yes, loyalty beyond any relationship a company could ever reach.
Take a minute to think about the big companies like Apple, Tesla, and Virgin. They all have people whose personalities serve to advance their brand mission. Apple has Steve Jobs, Tesla has Elon Musk, and Virgin has Richard Branson.
If you are a small business owner, then this person is you. Do not hide behind your brand logo. Be the face of your brand.
Also, a personal brand will differentiate you from your competitors, give you authority and credibility in your field, and stick with you in the event your company ultimately experiences failure.
For some practical tips, see the article, Personal Branding: How to Build your brand Successfully.
There you have it: 10 valuable lessons every entrepreneur must learn to build a profitable and sustainable business. True, these are not very easy lessons, but they ensure the best possible chance of long-term success.
What would you add to the list? Kindly share with us in the comments section below!