Any business owner can attest to the fact that running a business is no simple feat. As a small or mid-sized business owner, you must be prepared to wear many different hats, from new business guru, to HR manager, to janitor.
Running a business is all about preparing as much as possible, while still knowing that the unexpected is bound to happen, no matter how hard you anticipate. Being able to adapt quickly, think on your feet and learn as you go will help you be successful as you run your small business.
As cliché as it may sound, I often hear business owners and entrepreneurs say, “I wish I knew then what I know now.” With that in mind, here are a few simple lessons business owners have shared that might help make you successful in the business world:
• Understand what it takes to be a business owner: One of the first steps is to decide on what you want your life to look like. If you’re looking for more control and to “make your own hours,” then entrepreneurship is probably the right step.
• Be willing to go the distance: Leading a business takes time — time away from your personal life, spouse, family, and children. If you haven’t thought this through and developed a plan, you may find the demands of running a business pretty daunting.
• Keep your eyes wide open: Business ownership can be a cold world and business owners may not receive as much support as they expect.
• Know how and when to delegate tasks: Being a successful entrepreneur doesn’t mean being an ace at everything. It means knowing your strengths and working with others who complement your abilities by adding value to weak areas.
• Be patient: Don’t expect overnight success. When you are pursuing a new venture, you need capital, and you need time. The only way to get there is by committing 100 percent.
• Manage well: Never over-manage your employees, and learn to trust your staff. When it’s your blood, sweat and tears building a business, it is easy to become a micro-manager.
Truly trusting an employee means giving them the freedom and independence of working on their own and believing that they’ll do what is needed, even if unsupervised. Your employees will appreciate the mutual respect, and will be more inclined to reciprocate with hard work and loyalty.
• Focus on your clients: If you’re looking for fame, get out now. Running a business isn’t about building fame and fortune; it’s about focusing on your clients and building your brand.
• Be able to identify opportunities: Similarly, it’s important to be able to identify opportunities for profit and success. Some of the less cool, decidedly unsexy businesses are around because their owners saw an opportunity and acted on it.
The underlying theme for all of these tips is: Be prepared, be flexible and be successful, and keep in mind the tips above.
Gene Marks owns the Marks Group PC, a firm that provides sales and marketing technology and consulting services to businesses. He is a regular contributor to The New York Times, Forbes Inc. and has written five books on business, his most recent, “In God We Trust, Everyone Else Pays Cash.” Visit genemarks.com for more information. He is the featured entrepreneur and spokesperson for Hiscox Small Business Insurance's Author’s Series for Entrepreneurs.