Starting, running and owning a business is not for the faint of heart. With over two decades in the entrepreneurial trenches, I’ve picked up some crucial lessons—many of them the hard way. Here are the top 10 insights I wish I could have shared with my younger self, all to guide you on a smoother path to your own business venture.
Know That Time is Money
Time is your most valuable asset. Early on, I underestimated how precious time is and how it directly correlates with opportunity cost. When you’re spending time on tasks that don’t add value to your business, you’re essentially losing money. Be judicious in how you allocate your time, as it sets the pace and quality of everything you do.
Understand the Types of People You’ll Encounter
In any business, especially online enterprises, you’ll meet three kinds of people: targets, clients, and those who want something for nothing. While it’s tempting to try to cater to everyone, understanding the motives of the people you interact with can save you from wasted efforts and potential losses.
Don’t Dilute Your Value
If there’s one lesson that has hit home, it’s this: never offer your services for free or at a steep discount unless there’s a compelling reason. Doing so not only diminishes your brand’s perceived value but also sets a precedent that is hard to shake off. When you discount your services, you’re essentially betting against yourself.
Actions Speak Louder Than Words
Customers and clients may promise the moon, but always assess them by their actions. Early on, I was often swayed by what people promised or claimed they would do. With experience, I’ve learned that actions are the only metric worth considering. Promises don’t pay the bills; executed contracts do.
Establish a Fixed Price List
Setting up a rate card and sticking to it provides a clear framework for your clients and saves you from the slippery slope of endless negotiations. Don’t undersell yourself; establish your prices based on your expenses, the value you provide, and the market demand.
Quality Over Quantity: Let Your Product Sell Itself
You don’t need to scream from the mountaintops if you offer a high-quality product or service. Word will come out, and customers will come. Focus on refining your product and making it the best in its class. A quality product naturally minimizes the need for hard selling.
The Art of Hiring
Bringing the right people onboard can make or break your venture. It’s not just about their skills; it’s also about their mindset. Ensure that your hires are not just qualified, but also align with the culture and ethos of your business. Don’t hesitate to sever ties if you find they’re detrimental to your company.
Maintain a Healthy Work-Life Balance
There’s a tendency among entrepreneurs to make their business their entire life. This is a recipe for burnout. Remember that life is not a sprint; it’s a marathon. Regularly detach from work, treat yourself, and spend time with loved ones. Recharging is crucial for sustained success.
No One Will Value Your Business Like You Do
We’ve all dreamt of that magical employee or partner who would care for our business as we do. Reality check: that person doesn’t exist. The sooner you accept that no one will ever be as committed as you are, the quicker you’ll adapt strategies that don’t rely on someone else’s equal investment of effort.
Are You a Manager or a Leader?
Here’s a question to ponder: If you were to step away from your business for three months, what would you come back to? If your answer is a disaster, you’re a manager, not a leader. Leaders build systems and teams that can function without them. Managers create systems that crumble the moment they step away. Aim to be a leader.
Bonus: Continual Learning
Even after years in business, never stop learning. The market evolves, consumer tastes change, and new technologies emerge. Being adaptable and staying ahead of the curve will keep your business relevant.
By internalizing these lessons, you’ll be better equipped to navigate the complexities and challenges that come with running a business. It’s a constant learning process, one that’s as rewarding as it is demanding. Keep pushing, keep evolving, and most of all, keep learning. Best of luck in your entrepreneurial journey—I’d be thrilled to hear how you’re doing.