7. Keep Networking
A big mistake entrepreneurs make is that they stop networking when they have signed up clients or built up a sizeable customer base.
You should never stop networking because today’s business environment is as unpredictable as the weather. Your clients and customers could be here today and gone tomorrow.
I learned that the hard way when I lost a major client we had been servicing for almost four years. I allowed myself to get lulled into complacency believing the client would stay longer.
But business turned bad, and they had to close shop. That was a painful and expensive lesson to learn.
Keep pushing your business. Market and promote it online. Here are a few ideas:
- Create a website that is:
- Fast to download
- Accessible to multi-browsers
- Fully functioning with shareable features
- Blog frequently; at least three times a week and distribute your content through social media and related community sites
- Engage in social media; post frequently:
- Facebook – twice a day
- Twitter – 3 to 4 times a day
- LinkedIn – once a day
- Google Plus – twice a day
- Expand your connections; use LinkedIn or join focus groups
- Post your services on online job sites, community job market platforms, and search directories.
- Attend networking events, trade shows, and business forums.
Remember that opportunities exist every day. You could be at the right place at the right time.
8. Make Decisions Based on Right-Fit
“Right Fit” means having aligned values, purpose, and vision. It is sometimes referred to as “cultural fit”; having the qualities that fit into the company culture.
The most successful companies in the world such as Zappos, Amazon, and Virgin are focusing more on finding right-fit employees and clients to sustain growth and profitability.
If you are looking for people to help you run your business, do not focus solely on the technical and fundamental proficiencies. Remember people regardless of the level of education can be trained and developed under the right programs and with proper execution.
But you can never change a person for what he or she is. If the candidate exhibits destructive behavior, terminate the employment before it infects the entire culture.
The same goes for finding clients, business partners or customers. Even if the client is a big name in the industry but the conditions are onerous, drop the project right away.
I pursued one of the biggest companies in the Philippines for two years. When it came to the final meeting before contract signing their conditions were:
“Set up the office in 2 weeks, have your people ready but keep in mind we will only pay you every nine months. Six months if you’re great to work with.”
Would you want to handle a client like this? Makes over a billion pesos a year and yet treats service providers like slaves?
I dropped the project right away. I didn’t care that the company is blue chip; that’s not the right way to do business. If you want to succeed, you must consider everyone in the value chain. They are your partners, not your slaves.
Don’t focus on short term gains. Focus on building strong relationships with your clients, employees and customers to achieve long-term gains.
9. Manage Your Money Wisely
If you are keeping your money in a savings account, you will never become a millionaire in 5 years. The savings account is nothing but secured cabinet space.
Forget about the interest you earn. It’s not even enough to cope with inflation. The only beneficiary is the bank which lends out your money at higher interest rates.
A good rule to follow is to save 20% of your income every month. The 80% should be used to cover your business or for improvements and other investments.
Look for higher yielding placements to park your money. Here are a few investments to consider:
- Corporate bonds
- Treasury bills
- Mutual funds
Stocks and currencies are volatile and high risks but also high reward. The rule here is to invest just 2% to 6% of your income and make sure your placement has safeguards in case the market runs contrary to your positions.
If you have money for long term placements, consider real estate. Land appreciates over time. Even an area which looks rundown may undergo gentrification. Real estate requires a large investment, but the returns are also high.
You could also consider venture capitalism. Invest in other startups that have the potential to grow. You could help an entrepreneur realize his or her dream.
10. Bite the Bullet When You Have To
If your business has never turned in a profitable month and your numbers support the contention that it is no longer viable, swallow your pride and close up shop.
When you start a business, you are not just invested financially but also emotionally. It’s hard to accept the harsh truth that the dream will never be a reality.
But by cutting losses while they are manageable, it may leave you with enough resources to start another one. For sure, the experience has made you a richer person in terms of experience.
The campaign I alluded to in “Avoid the Debt Trap” is a prime example. It did not generate a single profitable month, yet we continued to fund it.
My partners and I were emotional; we did not want our agents to lose their jobs. Even though all signs pointed to a larger disaster, we believed we could turn things around.
We decided to cut costs by migrating the campaign from a leased facility to a private facility. This meant investing millions in a new center because there would be less recurring expenses.
Within three months, the client e-mailed us that the campaign was shutting down because the FTC did not approve of inbound calls outside the US. My partners and I lost millions over the course of 1 quarter.
Remember #4 “Appreciate Numbers”; if the business is no longer financially viable, bite the bullet and shut it down. There will be more opportunities down the road.
11. Manage Your Time Wisely
Entrepreneurs need to understand they are not superheroes. They also need help.
Micro-managing is one of the biggest time wasters. If you are tied down by non-essential tasks such as e-mail filtering, phone handling or calendar management, you are wasting productive time.
The same goes for more specialized tasks such as social media marketing and accounting. Leave these tasks to the experts. You only have 16 to 18 working hours in a day. Manage your time wisely.
Hire a Virtual Assistant to manage your non-essential and highly specialized tasks. By delegating these responsibilities to a VA, you can have more time to attend to the core functions of your business.
Not convinced of how a VA can help you become a millionaire?
Entrepreneurs like Tim Ferris, Pat Flynn, David Risley, Tyrone Shum and Michael Hyatt became millionaires within a short period of time, and they all hired virtual assistants.
Ferris credits the VA for turning not just his business around but his life. He wrote about it in his New York Times bestseller, “The Four Hour Work Week.”
12. Develop a Voracious Appetite for Learning
By definition, a business in any form is a living breathing entity. It has a conscience, intelligence and its durability depends on its overall health. In other words, your business is you.
If you want your business to grow, you have to undergo personal growth as well. You do not know everything; even in your specialized field, you do not have a monopoly on knowledge.
There is always something new to learn or discover because business is dynamic. It continues to change and adapt to the demands of its environment.
Identify your strengths and weaknesses and work on them both. Fortify your strengths and shore up your weaknesses. Read books, take up advanced courses, find a mentor; whatever it is, always aspire to become better today than yesterday.
Why do you think self-made billionaires like Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg and Oprah Winfrey take the time to read at least one book a day?