So, you’ve decided to start your own business. You’ve laid out a business plan, found your financing, maybe even hired some staff—but even the most prepared entrepreneur can lose sight of some important elements of owning a business.
1. Maintain a Vision
If you’ve decided to take the step toward entrepreneurship, you likely have a passion for your work. What many local business owners don’t consider is that the inspiration and drive that comes naturally at first can dwindle over time. Make sure you recognize the importance of staying passionate about your idea and lay out a plan to keep yourself feeling motivated. Some tips for maintaining your strong vision include:
- Setting personal and professional goals—both short term and long term
- Plan to continue your education—through attending conferences, tradeshows, or even just setting aside time to read!
- Stay open to change—while your vision must remain focused and cohesive, that doesn’t mean it can’t adapt. Embrace some flexibility and allow your vision to grow with your industry.
Your personal motivation will trickle down to your employees because people want to work for someone who shows knowledge and passion for their work.
2. Pay Your Dues
Success doesn’t happen overnight. And even though becoming a business owner opens up great opportunities, a big part of being an entrepreneur is taking on risk and responsibility. Most new businesses don’t break even in their first year, so expect to work hard to get where you want to be. With a well thought out plan and perseverance, your hard work will pay off in a big way.
3. Understand Your Market
If you want to be a successful entrepreneur, you need to have your finger on the pulse of your industry. It’s your job as the leader to stay up to date on all the latest trends and changes—or at least make sure that a member of your team is monitoring that activity closely. Nowadays, it’s easier than ever to follow influencers in your industry via social media to learn how they approach their work. Take inspiration from their successes, learn from their failures, and think about ways you’d do things differently to suit your own business.
While intuition is often a big part of owning a business, it’s equally important to complete concrete research. Figure out what your customer needs and wants and find ways to stand out from the crowd. A few ways to stay in tune with industry trends are: monitor competitor’s websites, join webinars, or subscribe to a trade magazine.
4. Acknowledge That You Still Need Mentors
Sure, you’ve become a mentor yourself, but that doesn’t mean you can never stop learning or looking up to people you admire. If anything, becoming a role model only increases the need for continued guidance and inspiration.
Establishing a mentor relationship takes time and usually develops over the course of several years. With that said, it’s never too late to find new mentors. Try networking at conferences or stay for the meet and greet after a lecture. But regardless of how you first make the connection, the most important part of building a mentor rapport is to keep in touch. If you hit it off with a keynote speaker, exchange email addresses—and actually reach out afterwards to continue the conversation via email.
Listen to your staff, to your clients, and to your gut. It may seem like a simple thing, but failing to listen only sets leaders up for failure. While it’s important to have an authoritative voice to control your business, it’s equally important to recognize that you won’t have all the answers all the time. Trust your staff to use their skills and expertise for your benefit and try to stay open to new ideas or criticisms—they may just lead you to your next big breakthrough.
6. Devise a Succession Plan
One aspect of entrepreneurship that many people overlook is setting up a succession plan. Thinking about the end of something is never fun. But when it comes time for you to retire, having a plan in place will ensure a smooth transition that will keep your business thriving even after you step down from your post. Many small business owners rely on selling their business in order to cover their retirement expenses, but the reality is that most business owners don’t see the return they expect from their years of hard work.
By setting up a solid succession plan, you can avoid losing your business to ill-equipped successors and potentially not having enough money to retire comfortably. A business banking advisor will be able to help you start that process, so you can determine the best path towards retirement and create a succession plan for your business.
Being an entrepreneur is an exciting career choice with a lot of potential for success. But in order to establish a lucrative local business, there are tactics that help business owners reach their goals, inspire their staff, and retire comfortably. By following these key points, you can lead your growing business towards expansion and achievement.