In business, we’re probably all a bit guilty of trying to walk before we can run - whether that’s launching a product before it’s ready, or agreeing to something we probably can’t deliver on time. It’s human nature to shoot for the stars, and there’s nothing wrong. Although, problems arise when we don’t learn from our mistakes.
With that in mind, I’ve put together a few general tips that I hope will help you along the way:
1) Don’t let your business stagnate: innovate to stay ahead of the game
It’s very easy to just do enough, but your aim should always be to stay one-step ahead. Whether it’s innovation, developing products or services, you must always try to do that little bit more to set your business apart from the competition.
2) Adapt, evolve and don’t be afraid to take risks
You can’t be afraid to try new ideas or implement fresh strategies. What worked for you yesterday might not work tomorrow. As an entrepreneur you need to remain extremely flexible so you can adapt to changing markets and environments, as well as technological advancements.
3) Learn to see challenges as opportunities, not stumbling blocks
In business you're faced with huge dilemmas, almost daily. Whether projects have dried up, or you've just lost out on a big client you thought was all but guaranteed. Seek a solution, think outside the box and knock on doors to discover new opportunities. If one door shuts, either knock it down, or go to the next one.
4) See competitors not as enemies but as co-collaborators
Partnerships and collaboration can be the key to success. You can learn a lot from your so-called competition and gain new business on the back of your relationships with them. We see our competitors as co-collaborators, often pushing work towards them and getting it back in return. Engage has found that collaboration is key to real success and sustainability.
5) Expanding to a new country? Make sure the market is right.
Hoping to be the next Steve Jobs? Don’t follow his path, make your own. Setting up in Silicon Valley isn’t the guaranteed path to success; you must evaluate the market you’re looking to expand to. Does the market need your product/service? Is there potential for expansion? These are the questions you should ask yourself.
6) Learn from your failings and learn to let go
Not everything you try is going to work, but that’s not an issue. Ignoring something you identify as a problem is. Constantly evaluate, seek feedback, step away and rationalise the process. If something doesn’t work, don’t be afraid to can it.
7) If something doesn't add up, it's probably not a good idea
Common sense is essential in business. If you find yourself constantly picking holes in an idea or you're struggling to make a decision then go with your gut instinct. Sometimes we over-think decisions that are really simple once we take a step back and evaluate.
8) Don't be afraid to ask for help
Be confident in yourself, but know that as your business grows, so will your needs. Don't be afraid to reach out to people who are more qualified to learn from or to get help from. Often people are happy to have a conversation at least, or offer their guidance, and people are your best resources, you just can't be afraid to ask.
9) Take on board constructive feedback and don't take things too personally
It can be hard to look at your business objectively, so when someone gives you feedback that you don't necessarily want to hear, don't immediately reject it. Instead, listen and rationalise. It might not always be right, but learning to take on board what other people say is essential in business.
10) Learn to live your dream
Don't forget your original big idea. The one that made you start up your business in the first place. It's so easy to be distracted and take a low-risk route, but there’s a difference between adapting to what’s feasible and backing down to fear. Maintaining your passion and vision through all the challenges will take stamina, but it’s the only way you can live your dream. Be measured, but bold.
By Steve Blyth, CEO & Founder of Engage Works