There are many successful businesses that forget that providing great customer service is important. If you provide better service for your customers, they'll be more inclined to come to you the next time they need something instead of going to your competition.
2. Delay Gratification
No business is successful on day one. Almost no businesses are successful after year one. If you think entrepreneurship is the ticket to instant riches, you need a reality check. Not only will you have to work hard for a long-term goal, you will probably have to work hard in the face of what seems like certain failure at times.
3. Optimize Your Virtual Presence
Let’s assume you already have a website (you do, don’t you?) and start thinking about ways to optimize it. Your website should be more than a simple telephone-book listing of your location and hours. It can and should be the most powerful of your marketing tools, especially if you’re able to deliver value above and beyond simply promoting your business. The best small business websites are those that offer real content and serve as a resource for your industry. Consider starting a frequently-updated blog that offers both updates about your small business and other interesting content, such as industry news and observations. Use your writing and images to establish a unique point-of-view and creative voice, further clarifying the tone of your brand. More and more readers are accessing information on the go, and small businesses that aren’t optimized for mobile formats risk falling behind the curve.
4. Be Uncomfortable
Nobody thinks that running a business is easy. But generally people underestimate just how hard it can be. There can be times as a business owner that for months on end you will be in a state of stress, worry, anxiety, and discomfort. Being an entrepreneur means being able to live and function in this state for extended periods of time, and being able to find a way to shut it off so that it doesn’t consume your personal life as well as your career.
5. Inspire and have a Vision
To be an entrepreneur you need to be inspired. You will likely have to inspire others such as employees and your first customers—who will have to believe in you with no track record. But most of all you will continue to have to inspire yourself, because sometimes your vision is the only thing that can lead you out of one phase of your business and into the next. Have a clear vision of where you are going and write it down, review it periodically to ensure you are on track.
6. Balance Ego with Humility
You have to have high self-confidence to make it in business. I’d go so far to say that a little bit of a big ego can actually be an asset—it helps to get people talking about you and can help to increase your visibility. But there is a very fine line between a healthy ego and being an egotistical maniac. But bring too much humility to the game, and it comes off as self-doubt. Walking the line between the two will never please everyone, either – sorry, it just comes with the territory.
7. Never, Ever Give up Control - Until You Sell
Some high-impact entrepreneurs will readily give up control in exchange for the lure of high-growth through venture capital — but I am not one of them. Relinquish control and you risk losing the culture and vision of the company you set out to build. Even though Honest Tea raised investment capital from the beginning, the co-founders always remained in the driver’s seat.
8. Take Care of Your Family, Personal and Spiritual Health - If You Aren't Laughing or Smiling on a Regular Basis, Recalibrate
Imagine the path to a wildly successful business: founder working at a feverish pitch for 18 hours each day, for at least 5 years straight. True? No, it’s not. In a private conversation with Goldman, he flat-out said two reasons he made it through the rough years: first — he believed in his purpose, second — his drive for personal balance. The notion we need to kill our family relationships, personal health or level of sanity to build our own business is sadly misaligned. Take it from me — don’t go there. Also for those who are spiritual have time to build your relationship with God.
9. Get Organized
To be successful in business you need to be organized. Organization will help you complete tasks and stay on top of things to be done. A good way to do this is to create a to-do list each day - as you complete each item, check it off your list. This will ensure that you're not forgetting anything and you're completing all the tasks that are essential to the survival of your business. Also keep accurate records of your business transactions- sales, expenses, emails, customer list and so on, basically have a good accounting and administrative system in place.
10. Understand the Risks and Rewards
The key to being successful is taking calculated risks to help your business grow. A good question to ask is "What's the downside?" If you can answer this question, then you know what the worst-case scenario is. This knowledge will allow you to take the kinds of calculated risks that can generate tremendous rewards for your business.
11. Analyze Your Competition
Competition breeds the best results. To be successful, you can't be afraid to study and learn from your competitors. After all, they may be doing something right that you can implement in your business to make more money.
12. Build Relationships
Rather than focusing on the ways in which you don’t have the same reach or power as a large business, think about what makes your small business particularly effective - for example, the opportunity to form close, meaningful relationships with your customers. Small businesses aren’t stuck behind the layers of professional firewalls that stymie the efforts of big companies to make themselves seem friendly and approachable. Cultivate a voice for your marketing efforts that is personable and unique, and use that presence to build your online relationships, such as through an email newsletter and strong social media groups. Start a loyalty program (online or in-store) that gives preference to repeat customers, and consider a referral program that honors customers who tell their friends about you. Invite repeat customers to special events such as a pre-sale exclusive, or offer them a membership discount. These close customer relationships are the best way to ensure your longevity.
Wendy Piersall: http://excelle.monster.com
Eric T. Wagner: http://www.forbes.com
Darrell Zahorsky: http://sbinformation.about.com
Chris Seabury: http://www.investopedia.com
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