Someone from my immediate family recently asked me what advice I would give her when setting up her business. Specifically, things which I wish I had known.
Advice, as we all know, is just recycled experience and this being the case usually requires significant context to create true understanding as well as relevance.
How do you tell someone a truth that you can only really be learn first-hand? That’s a perennial question. Anyway, the best one can hope for is that you recall the nuggets of advice when you need them. Here’s my list based on experience so far, I.e. Still work in progress;
- The business is not you, so don’t take it (too) personally. You are pouring your time and heart into it, so it’s easy to blame yourself if something doesn’t work out. Ultimately success in business is dependent on many factors and you are only one of them.
- If someone isn’t working out for you, the worse mistake is waiting too long. It’s good to help people develop, work to improve people’s ability to create value, but balance your good nature and optimism with reality. The needs of the many out way the needs of the one (thanks Spock), always optimise for success… which means making hard choices quickly and sticking to them. This one is critically important.
- The life of a business is the same as a personal journey. It keeps changing so, as with advice for crossing roads, look and listen. Then respond.
- You don’t need to be in business to know that treating customers with respect, offering the best service, and being honest and open will at some point be rewarded. People do business with people, do good and good will come to you (it might take a while mind you, so hold your nerve)
- Know where you are going. If you know what your goal is then you can keep checking back to see if what you are doing is helping you get there. Often this is referred to as having focus and not getting distracted.
- Passion. Do something you enjoy.
I think that about wraps it up, without a doubt there’s plenty more to chew on when it comes to business advice. By far the best leg up you’re going to get is to find a “mentor”, or “someone who has done it before” who you can occasionally call on and ask their advice. Building up relevant context about your business and how you operate allows less generalistic advice and adds that extra umph when you’re really stuck or unsure.