When it comes to entrepreneurship, there is no clear path to success. The challenge entrepreneurs’ face is to find their own means to success given their business, situation, timing, and style. A wise entrepreneur spends a good deal of time learning from the mistakes of his fellow professionals who ended up on the well-trodden path to failure. No matter what your industry, business plan, or idea, the following ten tips are basics for building a successful business.
Stay focused on the most important tasks that need to get done. Entrepreneurs multi-task daily. It is easy to get off track and spend time on tasks that won’t get the business going. Decide each morning what the most important tasks are for that day. Start with these tasks and don’t switch tasks until they get done.
Delegate. Entrepreneurs who succeed know what they do well, and what others do better than them. Decide what tasks should be outsourced and delegate these tasks to others. Trying to do everything or do things that aren’t your specialty ruins your efficiency and the quality of your end product or service.
Keep a business journal. Write down your business thoughts and ideas. In planning stages, these ideas can be both powerful and fleeting. Make a point at the end of every week or month to review your notes for ideas and potentials that you forgot to capitalize on.
Find a support group. Part of being an entrepreneur is being bold, risky, and independent. But you are far from being alone in your endeavor. Join up with a group of entrepreneurs online or in your community for support. Many starting entrepreneurs need the same type of services (web designers, printers, etc.), so you can exchange resources and same time and energy in doing solo research.
Address your fears and doubts. People often view entrepreneurs as the bold explorers of the business world. Don’t let your expectations of what it means to be an entrepreneur override your feelings. Fears and doubts are normal. Expressing this anxiety can be cathartic and help prevent it from becoming a roadblock to success.
Follow the golden rule of the business plan. Yes, create a business plan, and develop it thoroughly. Stick to it, but don’t treat it like the end-all be-all plan. Often once you get your business going, you’ll find that unexpected opportunities arise. Doors open once you get on your feet. Don’t pass by them because your business plan dictates that you continue on a certain path. Instead, carve out some time to explore and evaluate these opportunities to determine if they should become part of (or the new focus of) your business model.
Decide what your business hours are going to be and stick to them. It is easy to overwork, especially as an entrepreneur who’s business is in the house. As an entrepreneur, there is always work to be done. Remember that there is life after work and if you don’t have a life, get one. On days and weeks where you have to put in extra work, plan an award for yourself (a massage, a day-off, a night out, etc.)
Exercise regularly. Make exercise part of your business routine. It is easy to get overwhelmed by all the decisions you have to make. Exercise clears your brain to make decisions and keeps you healthy so you’ll have less sick days.
Keep abreast of the industry you are in. Read trade publications, talk to people in the industry, and learn as much as you can. The most informed entrepreneurs are the most successful ones. If you are still talking about the power of CDs in the age of MP3s and DVDs, you’re idea is already dead, and your business will be too if you don’t stay up-to-date.
Keep a sense of humor. You have made a choice not to punch a timecard or work for someone else. Times are tough and humor is the best recipe for getting through the day. Find the humor in situations and find sources of humor in your life (comics, sitcoms, and funny friends). Stay away from people who complain, whine, or give out negative vibes.