A lot of people aspire to be successful entrepreneurs. When startups like Facebook, Twitter, Uber and Instagram go from rags to riches overnight; entrepreneurship seems exciting. Beginning their own startup offers creative millennials the chance to get out from under their bosses, break free and enjoy independence and success. Remember that if something looks too good to be true, that’s because it probably is.

The giddy heights of success are rarely reached without hard work, tough decisions and overcoming obstacles along the way. Being an entrepreneur means learning how to handle the bad days, overcome problems and keep your sanity (and cash flow) as you rise to the top. Check out these 5 important lessons every entrepreneur should learn.

Great Companies Can Grow from Failure

Many a great company has risen from the ashes of a previous failure. Failure, in fact, is sometimes more important than success when starting a new project. Learning from your mistakes gives you a better understanding of your company’s position in the market and a chance to tailor your product to your audience.

Just think about Instagram. Creator Kevin Systrom was among the first contenders on the Forbes 30-Under-30 list. But Instagram didn’t start out as a photo editing tool. Instagram was originally planned to be a geolocation app. What happened? Nobody used it.

Faced with a do-or-die situation on his hands, Systrom decided to focus on what his customers wanted instead, which was filtering and sharing photos. Instead of collapsing at the prospect of failure, he turned things around to become a 32-year old billionaire today.

No one can learn everything just from reading books and business journals. Personal experience is key, and this generally means both setbacks and progress. Many successful entrepreneurs have failed on their first attempt and used their experiences to improve and grow stronger.

Be Sure to Listen to Your Customers

Building a long-term customer relationship is essential for any company, whether you work directly with consumers or with other businesses in the supply chain. Luckily, in a world dominated by social media, it’s easy to continue a permanent dialog between your brand and your customers.

Entrepreneurs now have access to updated information about their target audience and can use it to continuously improve their products. The most successful entrepreneurs are good listeners and follow feedback to understand their customers’ consumption habits. They then use this information to help grow their businesses.

Knowing how your customers are thinking and what they want or need allows staying one step ahead of the competitors. When you have the right data to anticipate your buyers’ future needs, you can tailor your product or service accordingly.

Work with The Right People

No one can build a strong company on their own, at least not a multi-million-dollar concern. So one of the most important lessons an entrepreneur should learn is to surround themselves with intelligent people. Networking is the order of the day, and entrepreneurs of today are finding strength in numbers. Surrounding yourself with like-minded people is one of the best ways to learn and grow your business.

Many new entrepreneurs spend long hours worrying about every last detail and getting sucked into managing day-to-day tasks. But when you spend too long working in your business, answering phones and wearing every hat; you can end up losing sight of the bigger picture. Apart from relying on a network of support and interchanging ideas; hiring the right staff to help you grow is essential.

Being the smartest person on your team is not the right strategy if you want to succeed. You should always think about hiring people who know more than you do in certain areas, who will challenge you and help take your startup and make it stronger.

Social Proof is Vital

How times have changed from the one-way advertising mediums of the past. We no longer accept a bright-toothed smile starting down at us from a billboard, or a door-to-door salesman spouting the advantages of his product. The internet and amount of time young consumers spend on it has brought with it transparency in business interactions.

Stephen May, creator of Memory Foam Doctor, a site dedicated to helping consumers find the right mattress, understands the power of peer reviews. His entire portal, in fact, is dedicated to transparent product reviews, expert opinions, and consumer experience. May has over 50,000 individual consumer reviews on his site. No money is taken for reviewing a product, so customers can trust that the information they’re reading is unbiased and transparent.

Over 70% of consumers confirm that positive customer reviews can cause them to trust a business more. Smart entrepreneurs then, need to understand how powerful harnessing social proof can be for propelling their businesses forward. If you don’t include customer reviews on your website, you can guarantee the information will be online elsewhere.

Whether it comes from an expert, celebrity or a regular user, social proof is an excellent tactic when it comes to gaining trust among new customers. You can get support by finding a website building guide and checking its resources and advice.

Outsourcing Makes a Company More Competitive

Trying to do everything in-house requires a lot of time, money and resources. All of which could be better invested by outsourcing certain tasks. If your expertise doesn’t lie in cyber security, accounting, online marketing, or any other area, you’ll be more able to stay focused on your core business by getting it done out of the house.

Outsourcing gives your company access to skilled teams, often with lower cost and increased efficiency. Some business owners are afraid to outsource and lose control, but smart entrepreneurs know that taking risks is part of the daily routine. Finding trustworthy partners to work with is vital for a company’s competitiveness.

Every day provides us with a chance to learn something new. Most entrepreneurs learn these lessons in hard ways, after trying several paths to make their companies more successful. But if you ever feel deflated or defeated, take heart; you’re not the only one. If you’ve failed at least once, been turned down or rejected, then raise a glass to Oprah, Branson, and Gates. Just a small number of ridiculously successful entrepreneurs who learned valuable lessons the hard way.

Featured photo credit: elcapatrimonial via elcapatrimonial.com.br

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