Today I was asked for the top lessons that I’ve learnt along my entrepreneurial journey. It took a lot of thought and consideration and as a result I’ve assembled this list of the biggest lessons that have been vital to our success. Take a moment to read and consider them carefully, they very well could be the difference between success and failure for you as well.
- Know, Like & Trust
This is the single most important point any entrepreneur must know. People do business with those they know, like and trust. You need to invest the time to allow a client to get to know you, to learn about who you are and what motivates you to succeed. Once they get to know you and see that you care about the products/services that you provide and that you genuinely wish to help them then a bond of trust is created and strengthens as time goes on. Like is the intangible item in this list. In most cases it is easy to build like, but, occasionally personalities are incompatible and it’s unlikely that a sustainable ongoing business relationship will succeed. People are emotional beings, the decisions we make, investments we choose and alliances we form are based upon these three pillars (know, like & trust). If you are able to achieve and maintain all three of these then you’ve acquired a client for life.
- Build Your Team
Building businesses requires a team of all-stars. Even solo-preneurs require support from external parties (partners, accountants, lawyers, banks, investors, distributors, resellers, suppliers, and the list goes on). Take the time to build an all-star team; without it you’ll struggle when trying to push through many barriers. Even worse, you’ll miss out on transformative opportunities and the opportunity to push through other barriers because you won’t even know that they exist!
- Avoid Complacency and Procrastination
Procrastinating or accepting the status quo can destroy your business. While you’re procrastinating, not only do you miss out, you leave these opportunities for your competitors to gain market share. Your loss is your competitor’s gain and your competitors’ increased positive momentum will make it even tougher to compete in your marketspace – that’s twice the problem! On a quarterly basis be certain to take the time to review and adjust your plans. Remain focused on executing the tasks required to achieve your goals. Remain vigilant in ensuring you don’t procrastinate and remind yourself regularly that once today is gone you can’t get it back. Ready, set, get it done!
- Throw Out Your Ego
An ego can be an insurmountable obstacle to achieving any success if a leader is unwilling to change. An ego creates disconnection within teams, weakens trust and creates friction within organizations. Furthermore, egos often causes narrow-sightedness and limits the opportunities that a leader can see. Put your ego aside, I don’t care how awesome you are and nor do your clients / suppliers / employees or anyone else you do business with. There’s no “i” in team, and the moment there is, you’re on a tilt that will harm you more than help.
- Become a Master of Delegation
I’ve mentored a handful of companies where the leaders were unwilling to delegate and not a single one of them exists today. Nobody can be a subject-matter expert in all areas, nor can they gain an in-depth understanding and stay on top of of all of the facets of a business. Learn when to delegate, it is the difference between success and failure. If you don’t learn to master the art of delegation, your priority list will grow out of hand, opportunities will be missed and consequences will result. Trying to take on everything, including tasks outside your area of subject matter expertise may result in them getting performed, but with average (or worse) quality. Furthermore, while you’re working on those distractions, the areas where you truly shine are being ignored.
- Manage Your Time Effectively
The only thing limited in life is time – make sure you plan, prioritize and focus on the tasks that matter. If there are too many priorities that absolutely must be performed at any timeframe, make sure you master the art of delegation (discussed above). If for whatever reason you absolutely cannot delegate, then prioritize all tasks in order of importance and perform the most important task first before moving along to the next task. If you focus on the most important task each and every day you will dramatically increase your odds of success.
- Automate Manual Processes
Never do anything twice. Build processes, optimize these processes and whenever appropriate (which is most of the time) delegate these processes throughout the team. All processes should be easily transferable between team members with minimal obstacle. As your business transforms, your processes should as well – every opportunity you get a chance to improve a process, do it!
There are so many other lessons that I’ve learnt over the years. These truly are game changers that have been detrimental to our success. If we had ignored any one of these we most definitely wouldn’t be where we are today. Take the time to assess where you are and where you want to be. Invest in yourself and your team. These efforts will reap huge rewards! Go get ’em tiger!