It is almost impossible to go about your day without hearing some type of advice. Whether it be a motivational quote from Twitter, dialogue on a day-time talk show, or a conversation with a friend, we live in a world where everyone is ready to offer words of guidance. As an entrepreneur, this is even more of a reality. However, it can be difficult to know what advice to take and what to leave by the wayside. A good indicator of valuable information is if it is from someone who has been through the process of starting their own business. They know about the highs and lows of running an enterprise better than anyone. Read on for five pieces of advice every entrepreneur should hear from successful business owners who have gone through the entrepreneurial journey.
Never Rush to A Decision
Neil Blumenthal, Co-founder, and Co-CEO of Ward and Parker shared the best advice he received from a former Navy Seal Commander. His friend had to make many decisions about where to put his time as a Commander, and this caused him to be very careful about what he agreed to. As an entrepreneur, tons of opportunities and chances to expand will come your way. However, you have to take time to strategize and decide how it will impact the future of your business. Because of this, you should never feel pressure to make a decision without thoroughly analyzing the consequences.
Always Keep Your Customers in Mind
It is easy for decisions to be made based on numbers and forecasts, but the analysis should never overshadow the customer. Whom you are targeting should always be at the forefront of every opportunity taken, partnership entered into, and new product or service offering. Walt Bettinger, President, and CEO at Charles Schwab prepared a strategic business analysis report for his former boss. While his superior praised him for the work, he asked him what this would look like in the eyes of the customer. This question opened Bettinger’s eyes to the fact that even in the midst of number crunching, customers always need to be kept in the forefront.
Don’t Get Too Distracted with The Progress of Others
In the world of social media and business websites, it is easy to become swept up in what others are doing. Seeing the success of others can be inspiring, but it can also bring much pressure to live up to their standard. This can cause feelings of inadequacy while seeing others fail can also cause you to question everything you are doing. It is best to stay focused on your work and continue despite the positive or negative results of the entrepreneurial efforts of others. Jules Pieri, Co-founder and CEO of The Gromnet advises entrepreneurs to ignore the hype of startups in the press to stay un-influenced by the “noise.
Look at Setbacks as Learning Experiences
It is easy to feel positive after the fact, but during a failure or significant setback, life can feel pretty grim. However, even the best entrepreneurs have had their moments of mistakes that they decided to turn into a learning experience. Sir Richard Branson, Founder of Virgin Group, shared advice that his mom gave to him: “My mother, Eve, always taught me never to look back in regret but to move on to the next thing. A setback is never a bad experience, just another one of life’s lessons.” Every failure is an opportunity to learn a different way of doing something.
Every Relationship is Valuable
Not only because it is the right thing to do, but maintaining cordial relationships with everyone regardless of their status is significant to future business success. You never know when an intern will become a successful entrepreneur in their own right and become a helpful partner, or when a client who said “no,” at one point will come back around to see the value in what you do. Stay connected with as many people as you can. Jacki Zehner, President at The Jacquelyn and Gregory Zehner Foundation, advises that entrepreneurs should develop relationships “in all directions.” She feels that having 360-degree relationships is not just about being liked, but also shows you are a team player regardless of status.
Becoming an entrepreneur is one of the most unpredictable and riskiest things you can ever do. However, you are not alone in your decision. There is a large group of the population who have decided to do the same thing and came out on top. Take some time to learn from them —famous or not— as one day, you will hopefully be able to give some valuable advice to someone else.