Learning to deal with rejection and developing a thick skin
Nobody likes to be rejected. It’s human nature for rejection to have a negative impact. The trouble is that it’s highly unlikely that you’ll get to the top without having to endure some tough times along the way. In business, it’s incredibly beneficial to develop a thick skin and to try and learn from every experience, including the negative ones. You don’t have to become a cold and calculated person overnight, but don’t let one rejection dampen your spirits or make you question whether this is the right move for you. Take criticism and feedback on board and use them to spur you on and develop your business plan. Often, we’re unable to see flaws in our own plans and it takes another set of eyes to identify potential problems or issues. If you’re having a bad day, focus on why you wanted to set off on this path in the first place.
Finding your place in the market
To be successful, you have to find a place in the market. If you’re not providing customers with something they want or need, you’re not going to make waves. If you’ve got an idea for a product or you’re working on a business that offers services, for example, catering, consultancy or accounting, consider where you’re going to fit and how you’re going to stand out within that marketplace. What is your USP? How are you different? Why should people choose you? Once you’ve got the answers to these questions, you can focus on working out how you’re going to persuade people to choose you and plan an effective sales and marketing strategy.
Prioritizing your customers
To run a successful business, you need customers. You could be the best designer, hairdresser or inventor in the world, but if you haven’t got any clients, you’re going to go out of business very quickly. Attracting new customers is only part of the mission to make a profit. Once you’ve got customers, you’ve got to ensure that they are happy. There’s no point in bringing in hundreds of orders if a large proportion of those ends up being refunded. Focus on the level of service, as well as the quality of the product you offer. Put your customer first, create a culture that underlines the importance of customer service in the workplace, and seek to interact and engage with your customers. Ask for feedback, encourage people to leave reviews and take time to speak to people who have visited your bar, salon or hotel, bought products in your shop or ordered from your website. By doing this, you can gain an incredibly useful insight into what works and what could be better.
Focusing on efficiency
Any ambitious entrepreneur understands the importance of making money. While creating a profitable business may not be your sole aim, you need to do this in order to survive. Making money is not just dependent on sales. It’s also reliant on an ability to run a tight ship. Efficiency is key and it should be a priority from the outset. Think about ways you could streamline the processes involved in the day to day running of your business. Update your ERP if your software is dated or you’re not getting as much out of it as you should be, motivate your workforce to be more productive and consider ways you could save money using technology. If you’ve got people inputting data manually when working on group projects, for example, using modern software could save time and money. If morale is low in the staffroom, try and get to the bottom of the cause, listen to your employees and inject some fun into proceedings. If you’re working on old computers or paying for people to travel to meetings in other states or countries, save time and cash by installing modern technology that enables you to make Internet calls and host video conferences.
Most businesses start small, but most entrepreneurs have ambitions to grow and expand. If you have a startup in the pipeline, consider how you would scale up the basic model. If you’ve got a consultancy business, for example, and you’re working from home, what would the next step be? Would you relocate, start employing people or branch out into different locations? If you’ve got a coffee shop and it’s doing well, what’s your next move? Could you open another branch on the other side of town? Are you hoping to start a chain? Or would you consider diversifying and opening a tearoom or a deli? There are options for every business owner and while it’s beneficial to learn on the job, it’s always wise to have rough plans related to where you want to take your business. Once you’ve got these ideas down on paper, you can concentrate on the logistics involved with actually bringing that next step to fruition.
Commitment to the cause
Managing a business of any kind requires determination, dedication, passion, drive and hard work. If you’re after an easy life and a 5pm finish every day, it’s probably best to avoid trying to launch your own company.
Are you toying with the idea of setting up your own company? Being the CEO may be a dream, but it’s worth taking a little time to understand what’s actually involved in running a successful modern business. There are incredible benefits to being your own boss, but be prepared for a rollercoaster ride.