I’ve just finished reading the article titled “What I Have Learned in My First 10 Years Running a Successful Business” by Patrick Gant, where he talks, fairly clearly, in point form about a lot of lessons that he has learned along the way. Reading this inspired me, and made me reflect on my own direction, goals, and lessons, which I will try and relate to you today.
One of the biggest things Gant talks about is the battle with fear. Some people, we all know, are weakened by fear, hiding in a comfy spot as fear dictates the next moves made. While others seem to battle this fear and thrive in it, performing feats that to the fearful seem rather unbelievable. Being aware of this fear, and running into this fear head on is something that gives countless opportunities to those who battle it, this battle should always be contemplated upon.
For myself, when I’m pursuing my practice or craft, I often find I seek out advice from people who are seasoned in the field and have learned a lot of lessons ahead of me. Furthermore, people usually like to tell stories if they are passionate about what they do, and they will remember you with kind thoughts about how you connected with them. This is also a tactic I take when networking. When I talk to somebody I’ve just met, and they tell me a thing or two about themselves, I find it really easy to immediately dive into something that they do and ask questions. There really is not one aspect of anybodies life that doesn’t interest me, but what is essential to learn is that not everybody likes to talk about everything in their life. Usually it can be seen in their eyes and body language the passion that person has for what you’re talking about.
Ideas about furthering my success in business or hobbies can come at any time for me. We’ve all heard about the idea coming to a person in the shower or on the toilet, but it can also come on a hike, watching a soccer match, at a bar with a friend, et al., but the point is: always be ready for it. Have something with you at all times to record the idea, in as great a detail as you can afford at that time. Honestly, if I’m sitting at a bar with friends and somebody has a great idea and can’t wait to write it down on their computer, which for the next 3 minutes I have to sit looking at them as they scribble furiously on their notepad, I’m excited by this. I find it really handy to use the notes part of my phone to record these moments of inspiration, but I always carry a blank notepad with me too.
The easy way is not the easy way, and it’s the way it’s always been. People will try and tell you how to what you’re doing wrong, and if you change it it’ll be so easy, which may not be a bad thing to listen to, but often times, it might not be a good solution. For me, I find that the factor that is easiest to identify, is if the correction to what you’re doing wrong requires you to buy something similar to what you already have, the solution to the problem isn’t the right one. Often times the answer is simplifying, not compounding your business practice. Slimming, I’ve found, is a much better practice than bloating. The people that are truly successful will often to appear to have that success fairly easily, but further studies will show that they have put many years of practice into what they do to reach the level of success they are at. Although each individual task may seem rather simple, they most likely will have years of experience to base their quick judgments on, learning from the past to project into the future.
We all deal with customers. There are good customers and bad ones. Though we should always treat the customer with respect, and honesty, we should remember who the good ones are and the bad ones are, and meld our practices to better suit the good ones. The ironic thing about this is that the bad customers are usually the ones that are the squeakiest ones, and you spend most time dealing with. Remember to assess how crucial the squeaky wheel is to your business, and act accordingly. Also, treat the good customers with courtesy and respect, and show them you care. Sending them thank you cards, or other random gifts, deals and promotions, or just dedicating your time to them, can go a long way. If I walk into a place of business and the owner takes time out to come and say hi to me and ask if everything is in order, I remember this; I come back for more.
Furthermore, learn from bad business practices. If you have a great friend who you went into business with, and that fell through, or the deal went sour, it is ok to forgive the person personally, but making that bad business decision again and doing business with them again is just plain silly. Contrary, remember whose deals were successful, it’s good to deal with them again, and very beneficial to seek their advice in the future.
Thought tedious, get everything in writing. Business transactions, sales, ideas, projections; they will all help you in the future when reflecting upon these documents is crucial such as legal battles, or reflecting on the past. I personally appreciate the compactness of digital documents, but everybody loves to feel hard copies, as well as digital signatures can get tricky.
Learn from other professions. If you’re trying to see how you can better your business in sales, go to a place of business where sales is essentially their biggest asset, like a restaurant. If you’re trying to find ways to slimming your business down, try studying how large corporations make cutbacks. Being able to learn from everything in the environment and applying it to every aspect of life is very beneficial for anybody who can master this. Leaders do this best.
Don’t be cheap on things that are essential factors to your business that you use everyday. A company that uses a photocopier every day all day shouldn’t replace ones that break down often. Employees who sit in chairs all day long shouldn’t be forced to sit in uncomfortable chairs. If you drive around all day long, buy a vehicle that is good on gas, and not prone to failure. Buy the better pens to write with. This falls into the category of treating your employees with respect and courtesy. It’s very surprising to learn how efficient employees can be if you give them a little respect and reason to feel that they are respected within the company.
Using just a few of these tips will reward most people. I’m sure that many readers are already practicing some of these already, as you’re proactive and seeking to practice better tactics in your business. After reading something the article mentioned at the start by Gant, I have many ideas floating through my head that need to be collected in writing right away. So, this is a very good time to open up your mission statement, and adjust it as fit.
Good luck out there!