Starting your career with your own business is an exciting, yet scary, adventure. It can be difficult to know where to start, who to turn to for advice, and how to manage your personal life on top of a rapidly growing business. As an entrepreneur, over the years there has been a lot of up and downs but mostly boils down to discipline.
Remember the time you decided to take a 15 minute coffee break from work and sat down reading a newspaper in the cafeteria? Later on you got up feeling very well informed about current affairs but realized an hour had passed and you had to rush back to your desk to complete the tasks on your to-do list. Or the time you decided to clean your drawers on a weekday to search for a piece of paper and ended up redecorating the entire room with your son?
While both these exercises may appear fruitful at first, in practical terms they are not. The mark of an intelligent and result oriented person is discipline, and not just getting things done – but getting the ‘right’ things done. You might actually be a victim of procrastination.
Same is the case with running your own business. I have seen many promising entrepreneurs suffer due to this problem, myself included. Common symptoms include prolonging uncomfortable or challenging meetings such as auditors and creditors, habitually reporting to work late or leaving early, taking long breaks, getting stuck up on a task and refusing to move ahead resulting in accomplishing nothing. As the Japanese, who have practically invented the concept of ‘Just-in Time’ inventory systems put it: wrong decisions are better then late decisions.
So why do entrepreneurs fail? Why do others succeed and how did they do it/
1. Find your passion
Passion is a powerful thing. Passion is your drive, ambition and the love of what you do and who you serve. It provides you with a very special view of the world that others often don’t see. For example, Steve Jobs had the vision of a phone with one button on the front. Jeff Bezos of Amazon had a vision for a store that sold everything.
Hiring right is a tough job, especially when starting out on your own. When I started Fit Brains, I knew I needed great people around me, or else I would never succeed. And you have to find the right people from both a qualification and culture fit.Early on, determine what values you want your employees to have, and how you want them to fit into your larger vision of company culture. It’s crucial to surround yourself with positive people who have the same drive and passion for your business as you do. I have found that meeting with as many people as possible is essential to understanding the range of candidates and finding the best people for each role. Don’t hire someone simply because they are a friend or look good on paper, and don’t be afraid to take your time in finding the right person, either.
3. Don’t do it alone
Another piece of advice for all budding entrepreneurs: Never be afraid to ask for help. Entrepreneurs typically want to do and finish things on their own. But if you’re going to manage your time effectively, you need to delegate tasks to people you trust. And doing so will show your confidence in them.
4. Believe in yourself.
As Henry Ford famously said, “Whether you think you can, or think you can’t, you’re right.” Believe that you can succeed, and you’ll find ways through different obstacles. If you don’t, you’ll just find excuses.
5. Have a vision.
The founder and CEO of Tumblr, David Karp, notes that an entrepreneur is someone who has a vision for something and a desire to create it. Keep your vision clear at all times.
6. Find good people.
Who you’re with is who you become. Reid Hoffman, co-founder of LinkedIn, noted that the fastest way to change yourself is to hang out with people who are already the way you want to be.
7. Face your fears.
Overcoming fear isn’t easy, but it must be done. Arianna Huffington once said that she found fearlessness was like a muscle — the more she exercised it, the stronger it became.
8. Take action.
The world is full of great ideas, but success only comes through action. Walt Disney once said that the easiest way to get started is to quit talking and start doing. That’s true for your success as well.
9. Do the time.
No one succeeds immediately, and everyone was once a beginner. As Steve Jobs wisely noted, “if you look closely, most overnight successes took a long time.” Don’t be afraid to invest time in your company.
10. Manage energy, not time.
Your energy limits what you can do with your time, so manage it wisely.
11. Build a great team.
No one succeeds in business alone, and those who try will lose to a great team every time. Build your own great team to bolster your success.
12. Hire character.
As you build your team, hire for character and values. You can always train someone on skills, but you can’t make someone’s values fit your company after the fact.
13. Plan for raising capital.
Richard Harroch, a venture capitalist, has this advice for upcoming entrepreneurs: “It’s almost always harder to raise capital than you thought it would be, and it always takes longer. So plan for that.”
14. Know your goals.
Ryan Allis, co-founder of iContact, pointed out that having the end in mind every day ensures you’re working toward it. Set goals and remind yourself of them each day.
15. Learn from mistakes.
Many entrepreneurs point to mistakes as being their best teacher. When you learn from your mistakes, you move closer to success — even though you initially failed.
16. Know your customer.
Dave Thomas, the founder of Wendy’s, cited knowing your customer as one of his three keys to success. Know those you serve better than anyone else, and you’ll be able to deliver the solutions they need.
17. Learn from complaints.
Bill Gates once said that your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning. Let unhappy customers teach you where the holes in your service are.
18. Ask for customers’ input.
Assuming what customers want or need will never lead to success. You must ask them directly, and then carefully listen to what they say.
19. Spend wisely.
When you spend money on your business, be careful to spend it wisely. It’s easy to spend too much on foolish things and run out of capital too soon.
20. Understand your industry.
Tony Hsieh, the founder of Zappos, once said, “Don’t play games you don’t understand, even if you see lots of other people making money from them.” Truly understanding your industry is key to having success.
21. Deliver more than expected.
Google’s Larry Page encourages entrepreneurs to deliver more than customers expect. It’s a great way to get noticed in your industry and build a loyal following of advocates.
Being a successful entrepreneur takes a lot of work, a lot of vision and a lot of perseverance. These 21 tips, from entrepreneurs who have already found success, will help you navigate the path much more easily.
22. Challenge yourself.
Richard Branson says his biggest motivation is to keep challenging himself. He treats life like one long university education, where he can learn more every day. You can too!
There’s no doubt that running a business take a lot of time. Steve Jobs noted that the only way to be satisfied in your life is to do work that you truly believe in.
24. Take the risk.
We never know the outcome of our efforts unless we actually do it. Jeff Bezos said it helped to know that he wouldn’t regret failure, but he would regret not trying.