10 Years of Small Business Tips
- Written by Laura Fiebert
Becoming an entrepreneur is not for the faint of heart. Running and growing a business can be challenging – that’s why about 90 percent of all new businesses fail. Since the odds are stacked against you, it takes hard work and perseverance to achieve success.
Whether you have a business or looking to start a one, it’s important to listen to your peers and mentors. Some lessons you will have to learn on your own but some small business tips you can learn from others.
Collectively, Thomas and Andrew have ten years of experience under their belt running small businesses. Today they will share their most valuable lessons and small business tips.
“A successful business is a marathon, not a sprint.”
Don’t quit your day job.
When you are just starting out, bringing in a consistent profit month after month can be challenging and stressful. You don’t want to be the position where you’ll do anything for a quick buck. You want to focus on building something that will make you $2000 passively everything month down the road and not worrying about making $100 to survive the week.
Keeping your day job until your business is financially stable will reduce pressure so you can focus on what matters. Remember – it’s not how you start the race, it’s how you finish it.
For Andrew, constraint breeds creativity. Having limited hours to get work done forces him to do the things that matter and make the most out of his hours.
Study the pros.
You can read all the books on what you need to do to grow a successful business but what will push the needle is to study what the pros do. Find people inside and outside of your industry that you admire and dig into what they are doing with their businesses.
For example, lets say you are super inspired by Pat Flynn and looking to run a successful online business. He has some great content online outlining what to do but go beyond that. Study what the pros do more than what they teach. Analyze their code, writing styles, videos, etc. Of course don’t blatantly rip people off but take influence and make it your own. You will eventually developed your own style. First, get inspired.
Improve 1% every month.
Give yourself realistic growth goals. Growing 1% every month doesn’t sound like much, however, after a year you will have increased 12.68% and 26.97% in the second year. Just a little bit of growth consistently will start an exponential growth cycle.
Just because you are improving 1% every month doesn’t me that every single thing you make will grow that one percent. That’s why you need to follow The Equal-Odds Rule. Thomas has an excellent video about it. Watch it.
He believes if you want to make things that are amazing, things that become fruitful and well-known then you have to make a lot of things. The more you do, the more you will fail, and the more you succeed. Throw things at the wall. You never know.
Don’t put yourself in the box.
Many people limit themselves to what they think they can do or what people expect you to do. Don’t ever feel you need to fit into a box. Put your weirdness into your work” that weirdness sets you apart.
There are not a limited amount of opportunities.
There are an unlimited number, but if you chase every opportunity, you will never make meaningful progress on the ones that matter. Only pursue opportunities that help you achieve your key goals. Say no to everything to everything else.
Also, stop thinking all the good ideas are taken. It will just paralyze your creativity. Your idea most likely has already been done. There are very few “new” ideas out there but who cares! Whatever you set out to do make it your own – give it a different spin.
Resistance points to true North.
“Like a magnetized needle floating on a surface of oil, Resistance will unfailingly point to true North – meaning that calling or action it most wants to stop us from doing. We can use this. We can use it as a compass. We can navigate by Resistance, letting it guide us to that calling or action that we must follow before all others.” – Steven Pressfield, The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks & Win Your Inner Creative Battles
According to Pressfield, all creatives are engaged in a perpetual struggle. Resistance always tries to keep us away from the most important things. Don’t fight it, follow it. It will point to towards the things you probably should be doing.
Feedback is a gift, solicit it and take it seriously.
The emails you all send to [email protected] is INVALUABLE and easily one of our biggest competitive advantages. You tell us when we’re great, when we suck, you share your stories and when necessary, flame us.
When creating your business don’t be scared to ask people what they think. Ask your customers as well as individuals who don’t know anything about your business. People love giving their opinions.
Some will give you good advice and some not so much, but you can filter what feedback is valuable. You still have to be the driver of you own success, but feedback will help you cover your blind spots.
More often than not the people who succeed are the ones left after everyone else quit. The key is consistency in business. Every day go to work and do something. Even if you’re not in the mood or not feeling inspired, do one thing to push the needle forward.
Consistency is a necessary for success. When staring a new project there’s always that initial excitement that will keep you going but it can wear off. At times it’s hard to keep it up. There are great tools out there to give the kick in the ass and keep you motivated. Thomas uses Beeminder to keep him accountable and consistent.
Find a Mentor
You learn more with your mouth closed and your ears open. Heed advice from others. Building a business on your own can be isolating so find mentors- you need them! Having a mentor has been found to reduce stress and minimize the risk of burnout, according to research.
They will help you focus on what is important rather then running full speed ahead in all directions and spreading yourself too thin. If you surround yourself with the right kind of people, you will learn so much from their experiences. Mentors can look at your business with fresh eyes and help you to spot the holes in your business plan. It may be your business, but sometimes you can’t see the forrest for the trees.
This is an easy one but can easily get lost in the craziness of running a business. Show appreciation to all of your supporters; you never know what kind of relationships can form. Customers are the lifeblood of your business. Showing them appreciation will make them feel valued which is so important.
Know your business math.
If you are trying to start a business (that makes money) then a financial plan is a must. Sure it’s your passion, and you want to help people but if you are planning on making it your full-time gig then you need to have a plan.
Many small businesses fail business owner doesn’t understand the importance of the numbers behind the business. You don’t have to be a mathematician to figure out it out either. You can evaluate your business with simple math fundamentals. Take a look at the numbers honestly see where the business is going.
Discovering problems early on will help realistically plan for the future. Your business finances are just as important as your personal finances so invest in some finance software to help you stay on top of it and make it as painless a possible. We recommend FreshBooks for tracking business income, expenses, invoices and to manage all business paper work.
Find out what your customers need.
Don’t just guess what your customers need – ask. Depending on your business, come up with the right questions to find out problems your customers are facing so you can create a solution. After you find out what your customers want you know where your time is best invested.
There are many ways to engage with your customers – email, social media or survey. If you go the survey route, try Typeform. You can create awesome fun (free) surveys that people want to take.
Serve those who love you.
You can’t be everything to everyone, and that’s not an easy pill to swallow. That first bad review or nasty email will crush you. So will the fifth, tenth and twentieth but you can not be all things to all people. Define your business and stick to it. Specialize in something and focus on being the best at it. You can always branch off later.
Learn by making
You can read all the business books out there, but you will learn more by doing. Challenge yourself to do things you think you can’t do. Use the Hirschman’s Hiding Hand Principle.
“Men engage successfully in problem-solving [when] they take up problems which they think they can solve, find them more difficult than expected, but then, being stuck with them, attack willy-nilly the unsuspected difficulties – and sometimes even succeed.”
Try to work through any obstacle ahead of you. You might be surprised what you come up with.
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