Five years ago, I started out in my own business. I knew what I wanted to achieve but struggled with the how. Many lessons are learned, and much wisdom is gained through the actual experience of running and growing a small business. I asked entrepreneurs and business owners from around New Zealand what their biggest lesson in business was so far. Some of their answers are pretty insightful...
What has been your biggest lesson in business so far?
Attitude and the right mindset is everything. Invest in this first through reading, training and surrounding yourself with the right people, then work on the rest.
-Natalie Sisson is a self-proclaimed Freedomist and Founder of the Suitcase Entrepreneur and she's dedicated to ensuring entrepreneurs create freedom in business and adventure in life through better systems, daily freedom routines and the right mindset to grow and scale your business without you. You can catch her live podcast updates on Quest for Freedom here.
Not to take things personally.
-Karl Baker is a creative entrepreneur who enjoys breaking rules and building innovative businesses. He is the founder and managing director of Mindfulness Works, the largest mindfulness training organisation in Australasia.
There have been so many! My dad has been a successful businessman for over 30 years, so when I first started my own business I asked him for his advice. He said: “Do a good job”. As simple as that statement is, it really resonated with me, and I have tried to thread it into every aspect of my business, as well as hearing it echo in my head whenever I run into a problem. Whatever you do, do a good job. Whether it is sorting your accounts for the end of the financial year, or liaising with clients – do everything with the utmost care and attention.
Nothing is real until the money is in the bank. People get excited about working with you, but sometimes they are just processing out loud. You may think they are in the committed action stage, but their thinking can often be a few steps earlier in the contemplation phase.
-Brenda Ratcliff is an experienced MC, presenter, trainer and leadership coach. Her business MindMeld Coaching continues to flourish. Her weekend job is as a marriage celebrant, themed weddings especially.
Everything is truly possible, you simply have to choose it.
-Assia Salikhova is a dynamic entrepreneur, founder of NZ's largest business database and creator of profitable marketing ideas guaranteed to work for businesses of any size. Join a growing community here for the soon to be launched B2BMarketing Club.
People are the most important part – hands down. Surround yourself with a great team, create a family friendly environment, and empower everyone working in your business to take ownership of what they contribute. Our team is the most important part of our business because they deal with our clients.
-Carissa Fairbrother is an Authorised Financial Advisor, Co-founder of RIVAL Wealth, a Financial Wellness Warrior and Keynote Speaker. Always happy to talk to one on one about getting financially organised.
Collaboration and sharing rather than being independent and protective.
The biggest lesson in business so far is stick to what you are good at. Everyone is so much happier when he or she can increase their 'want to do' and decrease their 'have to do' within his or her day-to-day lives. Within our team at Online Marketing Agency, we have seen each of us increase our capacity and speed of output in what we do for our partners when we are doing more of what we love.
-Nigel Fowler is super passionate about the products and services smart entrepreneurs are inventing every day. He is on a mission to tell the stories of businesses worldwide and write their web content for their website.
It's a bit cheesy but my biggest lesson is that I am my own biggest obstacle! I'm a bit of a perfectionist (a.k.a a control freak!) and always think my way is the best way. Learning to let go of this and trusting my staff to deliver something better than what I can do is the best lesson so far.
-Gareth Foster runs Private Box - a mail forwarding company with its HQ in Wellington. Think digital mailroom, outsourcing your mail, virtual office and living your life anywhere. Secure, fast & addresses in Auckland, Wellington, and Christchurch. Your Mail. Sorted. Gareth also runs Office Box - a one-stop shop to get everything you need to start a business online and Adventure Kiwi - a free advertising platform for your campervan, motorhome or caravan.
Clarity in business is vital – who am I, what is my business, what does it do for people – and then develop a consistent, strong brand around that.
-Cathy Sheppard is a leadership and team development specialist, with a passion for transforming businesses and changing people’s lives. She is the founder of BSI People Skills Ltd, helping businesses and organisations develop happy, healthy, high-performing teams.
The importance of dealing with financial management issues before they overtake your dreams and successes.
- Go where the money is! Charge 'appropriately' for a service/product that is already in demand... And do it better than everyone else - so you can justify the premium you charge.
- ALWAYS keep a close eye on the numbers - especially your 'lead' indicators - and ACT quickly if/when they're moving in the wrong direction.
- Cash is king.
- Have full agreements in place before going into business. If you have already decided beforehand, then it takes away uncertainty and allows you to follow what was previously agreed on, regardless of emotion. Make sure you have good insurance cover in place to match the agreements you have made. It is much easier to discuss and agree what you would do in a hypothetical situation than when it really happens.
-Bruce Stormer is a Chartered Accountant who seeks to help business owners make the difficult understandable by explaining business and accounting terms in a way that his clients can relate to. For an example click here.
Take the first step and don’t give up. By taking the first step you begin the journey, and once the journey has started, it's important not to give up. We launched Rocketspark in 2009 with an email and a Facebook post to friends and family. If someone had told me then how much work it would be, I could have easily been persuaded not to start. We’re at a point now where things are pretty exciting and the hard graft is paying off, so I’m really pleased I took that first step and didn't give up.
-Grant Johnson is a co-founder at Rocketspark, the beautifully simple website builder. Rocketspark enables non-technical people to create their own website or you can get Strictly Savvy to create the site for you. Check out the Rocketspark’s easy to understand blog to learn more about how to make the most your online presence.
Business is a lot like MMA (Mixed Martial Arts). If you aren't ready to get in the ring, don't set one up.
Get a good coach, and ask experts for help. You should never try and do it alone. There will be too many unnecessary mistakes made. You can't know everything, and why waste time trying to work things out when others already have the answers - like they say 'don't reinvent the wheel'!
-Me, Jo Muggeridge. The founder of Strictly Savvy and The VA Foundry. Currently on a mission to upskill job seekers and mentor start-up virtual assistants so they too can have flexibility, freedom, and control in their lives.
In my next post, I'll share what entrepreneurs said when I asked them what 3 key things they attribute to their success. Stay tuned.