25 pieces of great business advice from experts – part 2

Last month, you’ll have read the first of our two-part series where we shared some great business advice from some of the leading entrepreneurs in history.

So, here are 12 more great nuggets of wisdom from the likes of Bill Gates, Henry Ford, and Richard Branson…

1. Make small, unsexy improvements

Most enhancements to your business are small and unsexy. You should always look for areas where you can make small improvements – what former UK cycling performance director, Dave Brailsford, calls ‘marginal gains.’

Can you get people to work a little bit harder? Can you introduce more efficient work practices? Can you give your staff a little more time to get more done?

2. Embrace criticism

Bill Gates firmly believes that criticism from clients and customers is vital to moving a business forward. If you receive negative feedback from your customers, embrace it and turn it into an area of strength for your business.

As Gates says: “Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning.”

3. Say yes

Richard Branson says that all business owners and entrepreneurs should be looking for opportunities.

“Don’t be afraid to get out there and meet like-minded people,” he says. “Always say yes to opportunities and learn what you need to do to make the most of them as you go along – I’ve constantly asked for help throughout my life.”

4. Look after yourself

If you want to be focused, efficient, and productive, you need to be in good mental and physical shape.

You need stamina and energy to make it through a work day, and mental clarity to tackle each task. So, eat a good breakfast, take regular breaks, choose healthy food, and make sure you stay hydrated.

5. Keep learning

As US business and motor magnate Henry Ford said: “Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at twenty or eighty. Anyone who keeps learning stays young.”

6. Make the most of social media

Modern marketing requires a grasp of the power of social media. Here’s Richard Branson again: “Tools like Twitter and Facebook are wonderful ways to get your message out to a wide audience.

“Social media is not only more cost-efficient than advertising, but it also offers great opportunities for innovative engagement with your customers. Use it to your advantage.

“Remember that there is a difference between selling and marketing. In my experience, selling a product through social media doesn’t always work – it’s better to simply communicate with your customers in an authentic way and have fun. As you build an online profile that people can identify with and trust, you’ll find that they will soon become customers.”

7. Do good

If you can find a way of helping the world positively in the work you do, it will help you to retain motivation.

As Tesla’s Elon Musk has said, “If you make something that has high value to people…and frankly, even if it’s something, if it’s like just a little game or some improvement in photo sharing or something, if it has a small amount of good for a large number of people, I think that’s fine.

“Stuff doesn’t need to change the world just to be good.”

8. Believe in yourself

Throughout his career Walt Disney was told that his ideas couldn’t be done. People told him that no one would sit through an animated feature film. He was told his idea for a theme park would fail miserably. He was once even told that Mickey Mouse was a bad idea because a mouse would frighten women.

Just because something hasn’t been done before doesn’t mean it is impossible. As Disney said: “When you believe in a thing, believe in it all the way. Implicitly and unquestionably.”

9. Be what you say you are

We’ve all met people who can ‘talk the talk’ but who can’t ‘walk the walk.’ So, to be successful, make sure you attend to the details, and exercise sound judgement.

As Henry Ford said: “Quality means doing it right when no one is looking.”

10. Don’t get caught up in your success

It’s important to celebrate success when it comes. However, Bill Gates cautions you not to allow yourself to get too caught up in your success. When you reach the top, you must work just as hard to make sure you stay there.

“Success is a lousy teacher. It seduces smart people into thinking they can’t lose.”

11. Don’t give up

Contrary to popular belief, most start-up businesses don’t fail because they run out of money. While cash flow is often the reason that the business ultimately closes, the main reason that most start-ups fail is because the founder quits.

Whether it’s a loss of faith, loss of interest, or loss of innovation, it is the entrepreneur’s mentality that almost always fails the business. Don’t give up!

12. There is no big secret

While you can learn a lot from successful people, the main reason businesses thrive is through hard graft.

As successful US businesswoman Oprah Winfrey says: “The big secret in life is that there’s no big secret. Whatever your aim, you will get there if you’re willing to work.”

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