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5 Important Lessons Every Entrepreneur Should Learn

5 Important Lessons Every Entrepreneur Should Learn

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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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Erick Clifford

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Last Updated on December 10, 2019

7 Strategies to Keep Employee Motivation High

7 Strategies to Keep Employee Motivation High

Highly motivated employees are essential to the success of any business. Most people spend a third of their lives at work.[1] That’s a significant amount of time away from home, apart from the people who make us happy and the things we love to do. So keeping employee motivation high is essential for creating an office environment that gets the best out of our people.

But do you know what motivates your people?

It’s simple:

  • Is their work stimulating?
  • Does it challenge them?
  • Is there room to grow, a promotion perhaps?
  • Do you encourage creativity?
  • Can they speak openly and honestly with you?
  • Do you praise them?
  • Do you trust your staff to take ownership of their work?
  • Do they feel safe in their work environment?
  • And more importantly, do you pay them properly?

Every one of these factors contributes to the general happiness of your employees. It’s what motivates them to come into the office each day and work hard, hit goals, and get results.

In contrast, an unmotivated employee is typically unhappy. They take more sick days, they’re not invested in seeing your business succeed, and they’re always on the lookout for something better.

Stats show that 81 percent of employees would consider leaving their jobs today if the right opportunity presented itself.[2] So it’s up to you to set aside time and energy to create a work environment that benefits every one of your employees.

These seven strategies will help you motivate your people to consistently deliver quality work and, more importantly, to stick around for the long term.

1. Be Someone They Can Rely On

You rely on your people to turn up to work each day, to come to you when they have a problem they can’t solve, to be honest, and to always engage professionally with customers.

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But this is not a one-way street. You, too, need to be someone your team can rely on. They trust you to have their backs when a client is unreasonable, to know that the decisions they make are in your best interest, and to make good on your promises.

If you say you’ll attend an important meeting, be there. If your company makes a profit and you’ve said you’ll pay a bonus, pay it. The goodwill of your people is something you never want to test, let alone lose.

Be reliable; it’s astounding how much this motivates your people.

2. Create an Awesome Company Culture

There’s no denying that company culture trickles down from the top. Your leadership and attitude massively influences the attitudes, work ethic, and happiness of your staff. If you’re always stressed-out, overly demanding, and unreasonable, it’ll create tension in your office which will adversely affect your employees’ motivation levels.

In fact, the HAYS “US What People Want Survey” found that 47 percent of staff who are actively looking for a new job, pinpoint company culture as the driving force behind their reason to leave.

So if you have high staff turnover, you need to determine whether your company culture might be the motivating factor behind your churn rate.

Here are four ways to build a culture that keeps your employees highly motivated.

  • Be conscious of the image you present. Your body language and attitude can positively or negatively impact your employees. So come to work energized. Be optimistic, friendly, and engaging—this enthusiasm will spill over to your people and motivate them to be more productive and efficient.
  • Appreciate your people and be reasonable. Celebrate your team’s achievements. If they’re doing a good job, tell them. Encourage them to challenge themselves and try new things. And reward when deserved. If they’re struggling, help them. Work together to find solutions and be a sounding board for their ideas.
  • Be flexible. Give your people opportunities to work remotely—this is highly motivating to staff, particularly millennials. They don’t want to be battling traffic each day on their way to work. They don’t want to miss their kids’ baseball games or ballet rehearsals. Stats show that companies that offer flextime and the ability to work from home or a coffee shop have happier and more productive employees.
  • Create employee-friendly work environments. These are spaces that inspire and ignite the imagination. Have you ever been to Google’s offices? No headquarter is the same. From indoor slides and food trucks, to hammocks, and funky work pods on the wall, gaming rooms, and tranquil interior gardens, there’s something for everyone. It’s a space where people want to be, catering to their need for creativity, quiet, or team building; you name it.

So take a look at your company culture and ask yourself, Is my business an attractive workplace for talented professionals? Does it inspire commitment and motivate my people? What could I do to improve my company culture?

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3. Touch Base with Your Team Weekly

Make time for your people, whether you run a remote business or work in an office, set aside time each week to talk to your people one-on-one. It’s non-negotiable.

When there’s an open line of communication between staff members, work gets done. Don’t believe me? A study by Gallup found that 26 percent of employees said feedback from their leaders helps them to do a better job.[3]

Your people want to feel trusted. They want to take ownership of their work, but they also need to know that when they have a question, they can reach out and get answers. If you’re unwilling to make yourself available, your team will quickly become unmotivated, work will stagnate, and your business will stop growing.

So block off time on your calendar each week to touch base with your people, even if only to let them know that what they’re working on matters.

4. Give Them the Tools They Need to Do Their Jobs Well

Imagine trying to run your business without electricity. How would you contact your clients? What would happen when your phone or computer battery died?

Technology is super critical to the success of your businesses. It allows you to work more efficiently, to be more productive, and to handle matters on-the-go. That’s why you need to give your people tools that will make their jobs easier.

Make sure their equipment is in good working condition. There’s nothing more frustrating than a laptop that takes ages to boot up. It’s got to go. Replace outdated software with new software. Don’t make your designer work in Coreldraw; give them access to the most up-to-date version of Adobe Creative Suite. Take it a step further and buy them a subscription to Shutterstock or Getty Images.

Make working for you a pleasure, not a pain; and watch your employees’ motivation levels rise.

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5. Provide Opportunities to Learn and Upskill

Would you believe me if I told you that 33 percent of people cite boredom and a need for new challenges as the top reason for leaving their job?[4] If you want to retain your talent, you need to upskill.

Thanks to technology, we live in a rapidly evolving world that demands we change with it. A copywriter is no longer just a writer; they now need to be experts in SEO, Google Adwords, CRMs, and so much more.

A pastry chef needs to be a food stylist, photographer, and social media manager. An entrepreneur needs to be a marketer—or at least take ownership of the marketing message for their business—if they hope to scale.

Technology makes all of this possible. No matter your location, your people can continuously expand their knowledge and gain new skill sets—something that’s highly motivating to employees. They want to know that there are opportunities to grow and develop themselves.

If you won’t invest in your people, then your business becomes just another job to tide them over until they find where they truly belong. So be the company that sees value in developing its people.

6. Monitor Their Workload

Overworked employees tend to be unproductive and unhappy. Your people cannot be at full capacity every day, month to month. Something’s got to give. They’ll become deflated and their work will eventually suffer, which will negatively impact your business.

What I like to do is implement a traffic light system. It helps me to keep a finger on the pulse of my business. So there’s red, yellow, and green:

  • Red means they’re fully loaded.
  • Yellow means they’re busy, but they can potentially take on more.
  • Green means they haven’t got enough to do.

I use this traffic light system because I don’t want my team members to be stressed out of their brains all the time. If they are, they won’t make good decisions and they won’t do good work.

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If my people are regularly overloaded, I have things to think about. Perhaps I need to hire a new person to help ease the load or take a closer look at what projects are good to go, and which can take a back seat.

And this is why #3 is essential. If I’m regularly engaging with my people, I’ll know that while they’re coping with their workload, it is impacting their performance and health, and I’ll take action.

7. Don’t Mess Around with Your Employees’ Pay

Never mess around with your people’s salary. As a business owner or high-level manager, it’s easy to forget that most people live from paycheck to paycheck. Delayed compensation can mean a missed bill payment, which could result in costly penalties they can’t afford or hits to their credit score.

So it’s your job to ensure that you pay your people on time.

The Bottom Line

A motivated team is an asset to any business. These people never give up. They get excited about coming to work each day and can’t wait to test a new theory or tackle a particularly tricky challenge. They’re proud of the work they do. And more importantly, they have no reason to leave.

Wouldn’t you rather be part of their success story than the business that drove them away?

More to Motivate Your Team

Featured photo credit: Emma Dau via unsplash.com

Reference

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