Let’s assume we have already explored the reasons for why businesses fail and focus on what you can do to maximise your chances of being successful.
Here is a list of 20 actionable tips:
1. Be aware of the reasons why people fail! By reading this, you’ve shown you want to learn and become aware of the traps, pitfalls and mistakes that people before you have experienced.
2. Start selling. Become a sales guru. Learn to sell. No sales means no cash. Sell everyday even as the founder, particularly early on. With cash, you can hire people and improve your systems. Pick up the phone, start prospecting, and start speaking to customers. If you aren’t getting rejected, then you simply aren’t trying hard enough!
3. Know what you don’t know. The problem is that most people don’t know what they don’t know. This might sound confusing, but it’s important to become aware of the areas in which you lack understanding or experience. This is a positive thing as now you are more aware of where you need to either up-skill yourself and those around you or otherwise seek professional assistance. Accept that you can’t be an expert in everything and that if you try to do so, you are going to get bogged down.
4. Be clear on your skill sets and interests. Stop doing what you aren’t good at and dislike doing. Outsource it as soon as you can afford to or invest in getting assistance in those areas. If you focus on what you are good at and what you like doing, you will be more efficient and happy, but ensure that these activities help drives sales and add value to your business.
5. Build a support network around you. Building a business can be a lonely journey. Once you are in the game, surround yourself with others who are also ‘in the game’. It’s an emotional rollercoaster at times and it’s imperative that the support you have around you understands and recognises the commitment required to succeed. Positive people are a great influence and will be great sounding boards when you are going through the ups and downs.
6. Educate your spouse, partner and family. Conflict often arises on the home front if those who are closest to you can simply not understand or appreciate your journey. It is well documented that a successful business starts in the home, and a happy home helps fuel success.
7. Get a mentor. If it’s good enough for Tiger Woods or Roger Federer to have a coach, then I guarantee we are all good enough to have a mentor to guide us and help us strive to improve. Without a coach, we can drift along the wrong path, stay stagnant, move sidewards and in fact go backwards. Even the most successful entrepreneurs have mentors – whether they are paid or unpaid. Reach out to people who may be able to mentor you. You’d be surprised at how successful entrepreneurs like to give back to those starting out.
8. Be committed to learning. Always keep an open mind and allocate a percentage of your time for self-development and continuing education. There is an infinite amount of material to read, so be fussy with what you read and focus on topics that are most relevant to you today or in the near future. Chip away and keep adding to your stockpile of knowledge. I am a firm believer that any new knowledge gained today means that you will make better decisions tomorrow which you may not have otherwise made.
9. Be willing to fail. Once you achieve the feeling of invincibility, anything is possible! There is no such thing as failure. I am a proud failure and will continue to be proud to fail. The word ‘fail’ should be seen as a positive learning experience which makes you smarter and stronger while fuelling your passion and desire for success even further.
10. Be Passionate. Passion drives everything. With passion, people feed off your energy and buy in to your vision. Passion is one of those things that is too hard to fake. Passion drives you to work long hours and weekends but makes it never feel like work. If your passion dies, your business will inevitably stagnate.
11. Build a powerful network. It’s not just who you know. It’s who THEY know. Invest time in building trusted connections with people who can help you along your journey. Be first to ‘give’ and good things will return. Get to know the right people in your industry and be the person that is seen and heard and who people want to get to know. Your network lasts with you a lifetime if maintained properly and will help thread you through to the right people fast. By knowing who to turn to, you can solve problems, get access to clients and achieve things very fast in business. Constantly think of others, and how you can help others in your network.
12. Work really hard but smart. There is no escaping hard work. Passive income is rarely passive. The entrepreneur is what ultimately fuels growth. It is up to you to work hard but smart. Be outcome-oriented but continue to demonstrate a work ethic second to none. When I played semi-elite sport I always trained like I was number 2, and wanted to make sure that I was ready for battle and did more work on the training track than my competition to give me the best chance of succeeding. Entrepreneurs are rarely lazy beings. They are inspired to achieve and often highly self-motivated people who often live and die by their own sword.
13. Hire people better and smarter than you. The most successful entrepreneurs hire really smart people around them who are experts in their field. They recognise that they don’t need to be the smartest person, but they need to hire people who are smarter and better than them. It’s a simple philosophy, but they don’t have any desire to be an expert at everything.
14. Manage key relationships. Some of the best advice I received from a high profile entrepreneur was to recognise which relationships are critical for the owner to maintain. Whether this be with key staff, suppliers or customers, it is critical to ensure that the entrepreneur does not risk losing key relationships in the event that staff or partners exit the business.
15. Learn to lead. The best leaders attract the best clients and the best talent. By being able to lead well, you can train other leaders effectively and grow and scale a business successfully. Without leadership, a business has limited chance of success.
16. Manage cash flow. Cash is king. You can’t grow without cash. Be aware of the differences between cash flow and profit. If you run out of cash, your business can die quickly. Prioritise managing cash flow each week so you spend wisely. Many businesses grow too quickly and run out of cash and die despite having profitable businesses.
17. Stay fit and healthy. Self-care is critical to optimise performance. If you are unfit or unwell, you, your family and your business suffers. Prioritise exercise, eating well, drink water, maintain stress-relieving activities and ensure good sleep. Schedule in recreational time to clear the mind. Take breaks and have holidays. Regular exercise and a healthy body will ensure a healthy mind providing you with loads of positive energy and a positive outlook.
18. Manage risk. Look at all the risks in your business. Be aware of them and ask yourself what you can practically do to mitigate any risks. Most risks can be identified and managed to some extent and can help you plan for contingencies.
19. Stay focused. The number one tip overall is to stay focused. Every successful entrepreneur has had a laser sharp focus on one thing at a time before being able to scale into multiple ventures. Give yourself the best opportunity of succeed, otherwise you may spread yourself too thin and take the opportunity away from maximising potential.
20. Persist. I have had a motivational sign on my wall for the last 10 years which reads, “Persistence. It’s not whether you get knocked down, it’s whether you get up.”
If you manage to stick to these tips along your journey, you will be way ahead of the pack and heading towards a successful business ready to replicate your skills over and over throughout your business lifetime. All of these skills don’t magically appear overnight, so be patient in developing your skills which will hold you in good stead.