Are you making business harder than it has to be?
In our quest for growth, we often find ourselves overlooking simplicity. Now, I’m not suggesting that you take a shortcut down the path of least resistance. Instead, embrace the chaos of entrepreneurship, look for patterns, make sense of the details and adjust and refine your approach.
One way to start is by learning some key truths about business. Here are 10 things you should never forget in business – useful reminders to keep you sharp.
- It’s Just Lip Service: After the handshake and before you begin, put it in writing. Verbal contracts aren’t worth the paper they are written on. It’s not only a professional and responsible way of doing business, it ensures you start and end every endeavor on the right footing. Don’t let people tell you a contract is just a piece of paper. So is money, and I’ve yet to see a dollar in the trash.
- Build Your Business and a Life: As you build your dreams don’t forget to design your life. Develop business goals and life goals. Bronnie Ware, an Australian palliative care nurse, recorded her patients’ epiphanies in the last 12 weeks of their lives in her book, The Top Five Regrets of the Dying. Chief among them was this: “I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.”
- Seize Your Kairos Moment: As a keynote speaker on topics related to women in business, I’m honored when asked to speak at universities and conferences. While I can’t say yes to every request, I proactively decide if it’s a space where I can add value. It’s not always clear how days, events and opportunities connect to the bigger picture. But don’t let indecision rob you of powerful outcomes. Take full advantage of the opportunities set before you. Seize your Kairos moment: the appointed time where opportunity is in sight and decisive action is required. Gather facts, trust your instincts, seek wise counsel, keep emotions in check and act swiftly.
- Revisit Day One: The quickest route to simplicity is day one. Day one represents a time in business when you were figuring everything out. Think back to this place. You may have tried to reinvent the wheel or thought your way into a box. Whatever the case may be, take a solid look at what you’ve learned since day one and simplify it. Day one has a tendency to linger; you find yourself doing things the same outdated way. Instead, revisit day one and merge it with lessons learned. This approach will shorten learning curves and help you play a smarter long game.
- Celebrate and Get Back to Business: It feels good to win. For me, however, wins like these are short lived. They are not the end game. Instead they contribute to my larger mission to make entrepreneurship accessible. So, throw a party, celebrate and get back to business. It’s easy to think success is measured in milestones or a destination. But in reality, success is a journey. Don’t celebrate your last victory for so long that you fail to create new ones.
- Life Is a Negotiation: Ask for More: Never take a no from someone who doesn’t have the power to tell you yes. More often than not, the person who tells you no is not qualified to tell you yes. As such, I spend very little time entertaining “no” people. Courteously work with gatekeepers but get to the decision makers quickly.
- Let the Cash Flow: Cash flow – money in, money out – is the lifeblood of business. If you’re not keen on financial aspects of your business, sit down with a CPA or accountant and give your business a financial exam. Be aware of what you spend, negotiate contracts with suppliers, employ cost-saving receivables practices and proactively create payment strategies that favor your business needs.
- Work Yourself Out of Your Role: How easily would the daily operations of your company run if you took a sabbatical? Effective leaders build companies that can operate successfully without them. Give your team the actionable knowledge they need (with defined processes and systems) and empower them to make decisions. If you don’t do this, you run the risk of inefficiencies brought about by a huge bottleneck: yourself.
- Be Thankful: Develop an attitude of gratitude in business. Whether you’ve raked in 10 sales or 1M, be thankful. There are a number of aspiring business owners who would gladly celebrate a mere portion of what you have obtained. In practice, I’ll often share personalized thank-you notes with key partners. Gratitude brings about a deeper sense of purpose and humility.
- Never Major on Minor Things: Growing up my mother used to say, “Everything that’s important isn’t necessarily urgent.” I didn’t truly understand this until I became an entrepreneur. She was referring to the Eisenhower Principle, which suggests we all have two kinds of problems: the urgent and the important. The urgent are not important and the important are never urgent. Urgent things require our immediate attention and make us reactionary, defensive and narrowly focused. Important things contribute to our long-term mission. Sometimes important tasks are urgent, but typically they’re not. In a nutshell, spend time on things that are important and not just what seems urgent.
It’s often the simple things that we learn along the way that make the most impact in our lives. Consider what entrepreneurship has taught you so far. Simple reminders are often hidden it what seems to be chaotic complexity.
BusinessCollective, launched in partnership with Citi, is a virtual mentorship program powered by North America’s most ambitious young thought leaders, entrepreneurs, executives and small business owners.