So, you’ve made it through business school, and you’re ready to set out. You’ve got a grand vision for how your company should look, operate, what values it will stand behind, and what kind of team you want to build. But what about the things you didn’t learn in business school? You learned all the technical stuff, but often, certain (important) aspects are left out; and we’ve put together a list of five of them.
These tips are for small businesses who have been operating for some time, or for the brand new business just getting set up the industry.
#1. Don’t Cut Corners
Running a business is all about maximizing profits while minimizing expenses, right? Yes and no. While you certainly need to minimize your expenses as much as possible, there’s a right and a wrong way to go about it. Cutting corners on the quality of your products, services, ingredients, or any other key component of your business is always a bad idea, especially when the customers are already used to a certain level of quality.
It can be tempting to cut corners, especially at first. Expenses will add up quickly, and most businesses don’t even turn a profit until after their first few years. It will be exhausting. You’ll be stuck with expenses you didn’t expect, some you simply can’t reduce, and some that you should have never had to begin with. The key is patience. Learn from your mistakes, don’t bury yourself with them.
#2. Communication Is Key
The foundation of any relationship is trust, and in order to form trust, you need the mortar for your foundation: communication. Communication can literally mean the difference between a healthy customer relationship and an alienated consumer. The same applies to your team. If you’re not an effective communicator, it’s time to remedy the problem before it compounds into greater challenges.
Be open and honest with both customers and your team. That doesn’t mean divulging company secrets, but it does mean holding yourself to the standard of always being as honest as possible. Customers appreciate an honest brand, and employees will take pride in working for a company that doesn’t engage in shady practices or tries to hide what it’s doing.
To communicate properly, you’ll need the right tools. External communication can be achieved via social media, promotions, etc., but internal communication requires specific software and tools like small business solutions for conferencing.
#3. You Don’t Have To Burn Yourself Out
Burnout is a common phenomenon with business owners, especially new and eager entrepreneurs. It’s easy to get swept up in your work, putting in long hours to ensure the company is growing. The problem with this is that eventually, you’ll run out of energy. Once you run out of energy, your motivation can leave you as well, and then you’re just dragging yourself along for the ride.
The bottom line is that you can’t work too much, or there won’t be enough of you left to enjoy your success. Success can feel very hollow if you’ve alienated everyone along the way or sacrificed your mental health for the vision. Make sure you’re still making yourself a priority. After all, you’re the driving force behind your vision. No one else can take the reins like you can, and no one else will ever support your ideas as you do. You need the energy to do both.
Take breaks, holidays, vacations, and don’t be ashamed. That guilt you feel is simply the entrepreneurial spirit calling your name. It can wait! It will still be there once you’ve spent time with your family, at the gym, or doing nothing for a bit.
#4. Believe In What You’re Doing
The heart of a business shouldn’t be devoid of a soul. That is to say, you should believe in what you’re doing, what you’re selling, in your vision for the future. You have to be your first customer. Would you buy your products? If not, look into why. Would you use your own services? If not, what needs to change? How can you possibly convince anyone else if you don’t convince yourself first?
Not to mention, belief can take you a long way. It’s what fuels your vision in times of uncertainty (like right now), and keeps you getting out of bed each day to chase the dream.
#5. Value Your Employees, Too
Your employees will become the heartbeat of your business, and if you treat them poorly, your business will fail. It’s that simple. Employees make up your workforce, but more than that, they make up your support system. These are people that share your vision, that believe in the company and what it stands for; don’t neglect them or mistreat them.
Too many businesses pay poor wages or don’t take into account the needs of their employees, to the detriment of the business. Don’t let that be you. Treat your employees well, because a happy employee is ten times more likely to stay with the company and can be nearly twice as productive as an unhappy employee.