The path of the entrepreneur is a notoriously difficult one. It is not easy to build a successful enterprise and no one does it without help. That help often comes in the form of good advice. The key to success often comes from being willing to recognize and follow that good advice. Here is some of the most valuable advice for entrepreneurs from some of the world’s most successful business people:
Remember the Importance of Time
Time is your most important resource, which means that you will have to give it careful consideration. Consider how you are managing your time and how your staff is managing theirs. Do not waste their time or the time of your customers. Time management includes knowing how to delegate so that you can find time away from work. According to Elizabeth Gore of the United Nations Foundation, you should figure out which tasks only you can perform and let someone else do all the rest. Remember just how short each day is and that wasted time is the one thing that you can never get back.
Avoid distractions from your path. To be successful, you will have to stay on track and concentrate on what you do best. This can mean finding the one area where they are most likely to succeed. It is very easy for smaller companies to fall into the trap of trying to do too much, especially since their leadership may not be confident about where the company is going. According to CEO of 5 Acre Farms Dan Horan, simplicity is everything. Instead of trying to please everyone and spreading yourself too thin, find a simple formula and stick to it.
Sara Rotman of MODco says that you should stay hungry and avoid being comfortable. Comfort is the enemy of success. It is a good idea to only keep enough cash on hand to barely get by, that way you stay hungry and stay scared. This is important especially in the beginning. Fear can force you into making greater strides towards success and growth. Use your fear to help you to prepare better and to take action.
Seek Out Mentors
Richard Branson says that you should find yourself a mentor. Seek out the best mentors and surround yourself with them. The right mentors can help you through every stage of your career. They can speed up the growth of your business considerably by helping you to avoid mistakes. They can also help you to understand the challenges that you will face. Remember, there is nothing wrong with asking for help. You can find a mentor by looking for someone who is older than you are and whose business acumen you respect. The age is important since it allows you to benefit from that person’s experience and perspective.
While it may be tempting to hire friends and family, this is something that should be avoided. Virgin’s founder Richard Branson has said that nepotism is potentially “a serious mistake.” If they fail to perform well, asking them to leave will strain your relationship outside of work. Hire people who share your vision and who can take on some of your responsibilities. These should be people who you know will manage those responsibilities as well as you would. Fill positions with qualified experienced people who you can trust to maximize productivity and give your business its best shot at success.
Being First is Not Necessary
Many new entrepreneurs think they need to be first to win; however, companies like Facebook and Google have shown that this is not necessary at all. Twitter founder jack Dorsey says that being the best is more important than being first. The fact is that if you are too early in the marketplace, you leave the door open for someone else to come in and improve upon what you have done.
David Friedberg founded the Climate Corporation; he says that you should avoid luck. When you “get lucky,” it is because you gambled. You had no idea what was going to happen and therefore the outcome was uncertain. When you plan properly, then you know what the likelihood of a certain outcome is and significantly lower the risk. Success is the product of proper planning, of learning and of thinking ahead. It is not possible to predict the future all of the time, but it is possible to mitigate potential bad outcomes.
Focus on What You Love
It may sound cliché but successful entrepreneurs from Oprah Winfrey to Daymond John of FUBU have emphasized the importance of focusing your career on the things that make you happy. Pursuing what you love ensures that you put the required energy and time into your work. Working on what makes you happy forces you to form your own priorities and not work on what others think is important.
Become a Workaholic
The old Thomas Edison quote about genius being one percent inspiration and 99 percent perspiration is not wrong; in fact, it was exactly right and still holds true today. Hard work is what will make your company successful. Ultimately, being a workaholic is one of the more telling indicators of future success. It is common to hear people say “work smarter, not harder.” As an entrepreneur you have to do both, work smarter and harder.
Listen to Learn
Terry Reiser of TAG Creative says that the best advice she ever received was to listen. Listening helps you to learn what people really think and really want. This allows you to move forward with the confidence that you are doing the right thing. Never assume that there is nothing more for you to learn. Listen to your customers and to your vendors as well as to your employees.