If you run your own business, or you’re involved in making decisions regarding the direction of your firm, you can always learn by listening to those who’ve been there before.
When it comes to running a successful business, the likes of Steve Jobs, Henry Ford, and Jeff Bezos know a thing or two. So, over the next couple of months, read 25 essential pieces of business advice, including some from history’s most famous entrepreneurs. Here’s the first part!
1. Take risks
Apple co-founder Steve Jobs believes that business owners should take big risks, and that you should face your fear of failure and be bold enough to talk to strangers.
“Most people never pick up the phone and call, most people never ask, that’s what separates the people that do things from the people who just dream about them. You’ve got to act. You’ve got to be willing to fail. You’ve got to be willing to crash and burn.”
2. Understand your industry
As you learn more about your industry, it becomes easier to envision the types of issue you might face as you grow your business.
So, take time to really understand your chosen sector and focus on the things you find most difficult. The perceptions of how a successful life in your industry look can be very different to how it actually is.
3. Be ‘customer-obsessed’
Above everything, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos says that entrepreneurs should be focused on their customers.
“The most important thing is to be customer-obsessed,” he says. “Don’t satisfy them, absolutely delight them.”
4. Don’t read: do
Marc Randolph, co-founder of Netflix says that business owners should put down their reading material and get their hands dirty.
“It’s like saying if you want to be a player in Major League Baseball, just read a good book,” he says. “No, you get out there and start hitting. Do it. Get someone to throw you pitches in your backyard. That’s how you get better at these things.”
5. Do something that’s useful, and that you care about
Virgin boss Richard Branson says that it’s important you don’t go into business purely for financial reasons.
“Running a company involves long hours and hard decisions; if you don’t have a better reason than money to keep going, your business will more than likely fail, as many new businesses do,” he says.
“If you do something you truly care about, you will be in a much better position to find customers, connect with them, and keep them coming back.”
6. Don’t make the same decision twice…
When it comes to making decisions about your business, Bill Gates advises you to take your time. Make sure that whatever choice you make is the right one for your business, as you don’t want to waste time having to change your original decision.
“If you’re too willing to reopen issues, it interferes not only with your execution but also with your motivation to make a decision in the first place. After all, why bother deciding an issue if it isn’t really decided?”
7. Put the right procedures in place
HMRC require all businesses to keep clear financial records, so use the technology available to simplify your systems and processes.
Technology should help you to support and grow your enterprise, so regularly review whether your business needs are being met by your current software. If not, it may be time to change.
8. Focus on the long term
Always focus on making your business sustainable, not running a ‘get rich quick’ scheme. Your performance metrics should always look beyond short-term revenue, so be careful not to get too hung up on instant short-term results.
9. Keep your team challenged
It’s a delicate balancing act, but it’s important to keep your team challenged, but not so challenged that they leave or end up off with stress.
A good rule of thumb is that:
- 25% of the job can be boring admin
- 50% can be tasks they should be able to do standing on their head
- 25% should stretch them.
10. Be patient
It took entrepreneur James Dyson 15 years and 5,127 prototypes to get his original idea for a vacuum cleaner to the market in 1993.
If you want to make your business a success, it can pay to be determined and, as we said in #8, to focus on a long-term vision over immediate expectations.
Even when things are working, it still pays to innovate. The classic Dyson vacuum cleaner has been reworked and reintroduced more than 35 times since launch.
11. Build a reputation
American business magnate John D Rockefeller said: “Over the years, I’ve got so many people to believe in my ideas, simply because they trust me.
“It doesn’t matter whether your interest is in business, science or politics. You need people to devote their resources and time for you. Your reputation is the only thing that will determine whether or not you’ll get enough people to support your vision.”
12. Create great content
You can show that you are a trusted authority in your field by producing great content. Share tips, hints, advice, and wisdom through blogs, articles, videos and other content.
13. Let go to grow
Reed Hastings, the co-founder of Netflix, often talks about how he makes fewer and fewer decisions as his company grows, and how he leaves more decisions to the team he has assembled.
He gives the example of the company’s content launch. As Netflix was preparing to green-light House of Cards, Hastings says he personally put only about half an hour into reviewing the decision. The real call, he says, was made by Netflix’s chief content officer, Ted Sarandos, and set the stage for more than 100 series produced either wholly or in part by Netflix.
Get in touch
Discover 12 more great pieces of advice in the second part of our article next month.
In the meantime, if you’re a business owner and you want to get your finances in order, we can help. Get in touch by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or calling 01454 416 653.