Technology changes, but the Art of Business doesn’t. Methodologies come into and out of fashion, and get expressed in different ways, but the fundamentals of success are always the same. My “Top Three” were instilled in me by one of my first employers when I was in my early twenties — and since then, I’ve validated them by reverse observation — the entrepreneurs behind every small business failure that I’ve personally witnessed since then have failed on at least two of these points.
This doesn’t necessarily mean working 7 days every week, but it does mean at least thinking work every day. It’s essential to always be available — pick up every call, and answer every email as soon as you can, whether it’s day, night or weekend. The best opportunities are often unexpected and come up at crazy times. Unfortunately, there are very few entrepreneurs who are both successful and lucky enough to be able to maintain that aspirational work-life balance, at least in the early years of their business.
Plan every day in advance to make at least a little time for everything. If it’s quick, do it now. Never ever let a day pass without doing at least one constructive thing to generate new sales. Insist on quality, but don’t aim for perfection — assign sufficient time to do each task well, but don’t keep polishing. And don’t end up skimping on the next task — it could be the one that makes your fortune.
If you’re an entrepreneur, you’ll spend a lot of your time selling. Potential customers don’t like hard sells and they particularly hate exaggerated claims. You’re human, and your product or service isn’t perfect — admit it. Just aim to be the best person you can, managing the best company you can establish, selling the best product your company can make — and remember to ask everyone, especially every customer, how you could improve.
I believe that these points are just as relevant to entrepreneurs addressing niche domestic markets as to those ambitiously planning their global expansion. Maybe it’s me being old fashioned, but I fear for the startup founders that I sometimes meet who don’t seem to think that these fundamentals apply to them; it’s never too late to think again, make changes, and become more successful.
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