12 Tips for Entrepreneurs to Succeed in Business (And Life)
Whatever your dream was when you were little-become a movie star, a doctor, a famous sportsperson, or a firefighter and whatever your career choice now (growing up we change our belief on what we want to do, we learn about more options) at no point did you think.
“Oh, I’m going to be mediocre, it doesn’t matter if I win an Oscar or not!”
No. We all wanted to be the best, we wanted success.
We wanted that Oscar, our picture in the newspaper, a Nobel Prize, you name it.
So, how come only a handful of people actually achieve that childhood dream?
What did we lose on the way, and where did we make mistakes that hindered us from success?
Every dream, every career option makes you a possible successful entrepreneur.
Even if you are not, let’s say, a businessman by trade, you can brand yourself or your passion and make an impact in the business world.
Many successful entrepreneurs say that the secret behind the success is the passion for your work, great targeting, and most importantly, knowing the reason for your work.
And the reason is not ‘I want to earn a lot of money and travel the world’- that is a result; the reason is something that moves you, an inspiration, why you have started to be passionate about it in the first place.
WHAT IS SUCCESS?
Now, let us start by defining success.
Can you even define it? People’s notion of the word ‘success’ differs according to what inspires them, what makes their heart jump up and down and brings them joy.
It is completely unimportant if, for example, you are having a lot of money but being rich does not fulfill you emotionally.
For some people, success means being recognized in the professional circles, while others are not satisfied with just being respected in their own field. Instead, they want worldwide recognition.
A completely different group of people do not care about the recognition at all, they just enjoy doing their job, and being recognized on the streets is just a side-effect for them.
Finally, there are those whose happiness is based on making their family happy, on leading a normal, serene life while they do their job.
There are so many more ways in which we define our success, all of them are great if at the end of the day you can say “Yes, I am happy, and I can’t wait to do everything again tomorrow.”
SO WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO BE AN ENTREPRENEUR?
Simply put, it is finding a hole in the business world and filling it with your product or service.
To be successful, you have to think of what motivates you and find a place for it.
For example, your beloved grandma died of cancer when you were a child, now you want to create a drug that will cure your grandma’s disease – that is your reason, your motivation.
The next step is research-has anybody else come up with the drug, what’s the demographics, who is your competition, who do you sell to, and so on.
Whether you are already an entrepreneur and you are struggling a bit or you are aspiring to become one, these tips on how to succeed will, hopefully, help you.
1. Develop a Strong Work Ethic
Why is this important and what does it mean?
Imagine that you are still an employee in a company, and your boss is coming to work at 11 am instead of coming on time.
Would you be motivated to work for such a person?
Do you think that there is a chance for that business to succeed in the long run if the boss, the creator is slacking off? Of course not.
A good manager, a boss, an entrepreneur not only comes on time and works, but they come to work first and leave last.
You do not become an entrepreneur so you can work less; you actually work more as you only have yourself to be accountable to.
Being an entrepreneur is not a getaway card from responsibility, on the contrary.
This is a trap many young entrepreneurs fall into, they start spending more than they have, they think they are already on top of the world when they see that their work is shown results, and they stop taking the job seriously.
Can anybody succeed?
Yes, if they work hard enough.
Will Smith said about himself that he was not the most talented and the best, he is good because he worked more than the others.
So, hard work pays out. It pays out in personal satisfaction, in your employees’ respect, in revenue and professional success.
Nothing comes served to you, you have to earn it.
2. Form a Team
In order to succeed, you have to have a great team to back you up.
This does not mean that you should gather a bunch of ‘yes men’. In the long run, it might even turn out that the fact that you were not challenged by your team was harmful to your business.
Good employees are supposed to question some of your decision, and they should be more than welcome to express their opinions and/or ideas.
Having a team you can rely on allows you to take a break from time to time knowing that nothing will crumble down in your absence.
It also enables you to delegate a little and focus on what is really important.
This does not mean that you do all the important work and your employees are left doing boring and stuff. It just means that you do not have to do everything yourself in order for it to be done correctly.
Relying on your team makes it easier for them to learn from you and you do not get overworked.
3. Get a Mentor
As important as it is to have a reliable and capable team, it is important to have a mentor as well.
If you choose the right one, someone you admire and respect, listening to their advice can make your journey much more enjoyable.
How you should approach a mentor?
You do not ask them what they do now for their business, you ask them what they did when they were in your place.
Advice on what to avoid may prove more valuable than anything else as it would save you so much time fixing the mistakes.
Networking is the key to finding mentors. Visit conferences, talk to people you admire.
Studies show that surrounding yourself with people you admire makes you more motivated and help you learn better.
You can never have too many mentors?
Not so true.
Three might be better than one, but a dozen is too much.
Having more than one mentor gives you the opportunity to look at a certain issue from a different angle.
There is no one correct way of doing something. Pick one that fits your current needs.
Listen to your clients, listen to your mentor and listen to your employees.
Listen to anybody who would give you an outside insight.
Being in charge of a business is not easy, there are so many aspects that you need to take into account that sometimes, you will forget or overlook something.
You can’t do it alone, so this is why it is important to have your mentor and your team around. But that alone is not enough.
Very often it happens that entrepreneurs rely on their team to perform tasks, and nothing more.
To become successful you have to start really listening to the ideas of your employees as well as your mentors.
Your clients also give you valuable feedback on how you fare in the business world.
Their insight provides for the room for improvement. If you don’t listen, your competition might, and you would be out of business.
Learning to truly listen to others is a great interpersonal skill that helps you see and solve problems both in your professional and your private life.
5. Be a Leader, Not a Boss
There are many styles of managing a company.
However, being a leader rather than a boss has proven to be the most productive.
What is the difference? The main thing is the different approach to managing the business.
A boss would come and tell their employees what and how to do something, the leader, on the other hand, leads by example.
Good leaders are those who are engaged with their employees, they know their names, personal problems if they exist, they listen.
They are here to pave the way for employees to do their tasks more productively, and they do not rely on the staff to do the heavy lifting.
Leaders create a sense of trust, a sort of “comradery” which makes them appealing and easy to follow on the path to success.
The way you approach to planning a project is highly dependent on the type of your personality.
Some people who have their left brain hemisphere dominant like to have everything in order, they might make detailed plans and they might follow through to the last point.
However, people with the dominant right hemisphere tend to be more creative, artistic and as such more impulsive, so they may never make an actual physical plan of the future actions, they act on gut and make decisions on the way.
Both approaches work to the same extent.
The only important thing is that you do not let others influence it.
A left-hemisphere mentor can suffocate the creative right-hemisphere aspiring entrepreneur, who may seem to be taking things lightly; on the other hand, the logical left hemisphere entrepreneur can seem too demanding and micromanaging.
Whatever the case, you have to have at least an outline of what you hope to do; you have to set some milestones, some short term goals that need to be reached in a certain timeframe.
7. Step by Step Approach
Owning a business is a marathon. If you are training to reach a goal, if you want a better race time you do not jump into the training shoes and run a marathon just like that.
You have to put in the hours in the gym, get your nutrition in order, buy quality shoes, and, most importantly, train every day for as many months as you need to become strong enough and fast enough to win.
Being an entrepreneur is the same.
You cannot become a role model for the next generations of entrepreneurs overnight; you cannot make an impact on the industry and the world by a simple swish of a magic wand.
What you need to do is set realistic expectations to yourself and approach each issue and each problem as it rises. Take baby steps; learn how to swim in the waters of the chosen industry.
It is much easier to go back a step or two if you see that something is not going the way it was supposed to, than recovering from a fall after a great leap.
The step by step approach will provide with the opportunity to notice the mistakes as soon as they appear since you will not rush.
8. Work on Your Creativity
Regardless of what your field of interest is, you have to be creative and innovative.
Creativity is not restricted to arts only.
The creative people are those who end up making a change in their industries.
They find new, simpler or more thorough, even more, fun ways of solving old problems.
Every idea is worth examining and with careful research of the market you can come to the point of launching a new project.
During the days do those things that keep you motivated.
Let your juices flow, and maybe in the idlest moments, your best idea will come to existence (remember Isaac Newton and the apple).
9. Love Yourself
This might sound like a cliché from girls’ magazines; however, it makes more sense than you would think.
To love oneself is a broad notion, it can mean various things.
For one, if you love yourself, you have great self-confidence which more than helps if you want to pitch in a new idea, draw in some new customers and/or partners.
Self-confidence creates a charisma that attracts people to you.
That natural charisma is said to be one of the most common traits of successful people.
How do you get to the point of self-love?
Work on yourself even harder than you are working on your business.
Even if your job fails, the time you spend developing yourself can never be wasted.
Exercise; take care of your physical body.
Being a leader can be exhausting so you have to have the strength to get through the day.
Eat right and sleep enough.
Food and rest give you energy for performing everyday tasks. If you are having difficulties, go to therapy, get to know yourself.
Another thing that falls into this category is education.
Educate yourself on your area of business, and other things, too. Acquire a new skill, learn a new language, and invest in yourself.
Chances are you will feel better, look better and be better, and that will get noticed.
10. Take Breaks
Success does not happen overnight so you have to pace yourself.
If you want everything right away you are facing the danger of burning out.
Taking breaks is beneficial for many reasons besides keeping you from burning out. It allows you to breathe, let the information set it. It gives you time to reflect from a certain distance on what has been done already.
Do not wait until you are already tired to use a day off or go on a vacation.
Schedule breaks ahead of time. You might be really excited about your job that you do not want to stop, or you think that you do not have the luxury to.
You should not break the impetus at all costs, but if you have been working tirelessly you can treat yourself to a relaxing day.
Finding that work-life balance is crucial for success.
Consider this as stacking energy for future crisis. If you are already burnt out when you decide to take a break it may take you more time to recover.
Also, people who are exhausted make poorer decisions, so you are more likely to give up when the difficulties arise if you are already overworked.
Dedicate an hour a day to doing something that you like, take a couple of days off every month; you do not have to work every single day.
Go on a vacation.
Recharge your batteries.
11. Manage Fear
Diving into a new adventure, and starting a business is just that can be scary.
If you are doing something truly new and creative chances are you are the first to do it. Understandably, you may feel anxious and scared.
A small dose of fear is not harmful, it is beneficial even.
You are more careful, you pay more attention to detail so you do not miss something.
When that fear becomes too much to deal with creatively and productively, you are at a standstill.
You are afraid of taking even smaller risks, and instead of going forward, you stagnate.
If you are emotionally invested in the project this stagnation leads to frustration and even depression which never does any good either professionally, or privately.
Do not allow other people to affect you with their own doubts and fears.
If they advise you not to do something without any valid arguments, it is their own fear talking. Do not let them tell you that you are crazy to do something new and innovative.
Risk taking is a part of the job.
Take some, try out new approaches, and be creative.
Pay attention though that the risks are not too big.
Think them through, consider the pros and cons, and listen to your gut.
12. Find Silver Lining
This is maybe one of the most important mindsets that you need to acquire.
Did you think that nothing will go wrong? If you did, adjust your expectations.
You are surely going to experience setbacks of different gravity.
This is when you should remember that nobody ever does anything right on the first try (except maybe by some lucky coincidence, but you do not want your business to be a coincidence, right?).
So, what do you do when things go south?
When you fail, either on some particular task in creating a business, or your whole project fails, and you are left disillusioned and disappointed, take that hit.
You failed, it is okay. Pick yourself up, and do it all over again, only better. Learn from your mistakes and do not let them get to you.
Sometimes that setback may be the best thing that ever happened to you, and you become an even more successful entrepreneur.
Just remember how many times that happened in your life on a day-to-day basis.
One setback does not mean that you lost everything and that your work was futile.
It just means that you need to work harder to find a more suitable way to get you where you want to be.
The bottom line of success is that it can happen to anyone, you can be what you wanted to be as a child, you can achieve all the new goals that you set up for yourself during your life so far.
You only need to work really hard, take the bad along with the good, appreciate all the difficulties along with minor successes.
There are a couple of things that all those successful businessman and businesswomen have in common, and that is the drive, persistence, will power and optimism.
Surround yourself with people who mean you well, who will be your support system and your advisers. All those in combination are bound to give you the motivation to start and succeed.