It is so frustrating when I watch TV, listen to the radio or read the paper and within any mention of an entrepreneur, there is almost certainly a mention not long after about tech startups. Non-tech small business owners such as your local dry cleaners, hair dressers or mechanics are deemed ‘less interesting’ and very often treated like not so sexy entrepreneurs.
However they face many of the same challenges, but just seen through a different light. Below are 13 of the top lessons I have learned from community based entrepreneurs:
- Accountability: It can be a lonely road but go out and get a mentor to help keep you accountable and on course to achieve your goals
- Make connections: Don’t feel ashamed that you need a hand. In fact it is often better to identify you need help upfront rather than delay it. When you do have a challenge you need support with, tap into family, friends, events and networks online and offline
- Constant feedback: Engage with customers early and often and learn as much as possible in order to ensure you are delivering a great experience that customers value
- Be willing to change in the face of evidence: It is all good listening to what customers are saying but willingness to change is vital in order to save you time and money in the long run
- Understand your bottom line: Have an understanding what your costs are, how much income you receive and what profit you are left with each month.
- Cashflow is king: If you don’t know your numbers, you will go out of business.
- Cost effective Marketing: Social Media is where a lot of your audience probably is, so understand one or two platforms very well e.g. Instagram for Business vs Facebook ads
- Share Ideas: Don’t just keep your ideas to yourself. Competitive advantage comes from assembling intelligence around, does this idea work? who is the right team? what are the right learnings needed to validate it?
- Stay focused: Don’t get distracted by what others are doing
- Team effort: As quick as possible accept that you shouldn’t be doing everything and even if you can, you should not be
- Communication matters: Speaking to your team regularly keeps you up to date with how they feel and how your company is doing from their perspective
- Lead by example: There is no such thing as a bad team, believe it is possible for your team to do better and get them focused on your mission
- It is ok to turn off: It is healthy and recommended to switch off from work from time to time. This is not about work life balance but rather work life integration
These are just some of the many lessons I revisit when speaking to community based business owners. Please remember these lessons serve as a guide from others that have been on the journey of entrepreneurship and faced challenges that you will or have already. These are by no means set rules.
Below is a reflection on lesson 12 above, lead by example!
Let me know which lessons resonate with you most and feel free to share your lessons in the comments.
AH Partners strives to add value beyond capital and form partnerships with small business owners. As a partner, AH Partners shares mutual goals to help your small business grow post loan acceptance, offering advice as well as introductions to networks.
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