When people look for mentors they often the power of giving themselves good advice and following it. A mentor often encourages you to do your best and to stay the course. This emailer has some practical tips that may assist in being your own success mentor, especially as an entrepreneur.
Surround yourself with outstanding people.
Whenever you recruit, choose friends or decide where you want to go in life make sure you learn from the great people around you. If you cannot find them in person, find them in books, podcasts and on things like TED Talks. There are great people with great ideas and you can become a better person by learning from others.
Look for good buys
When you are negotiating and selling – the power of waiting and being patient cannot be ignored. Never be in a hurry when buying but compare options, bargain, haggle and shop around. Understanding and getting good value is a great success principle.
Exploit the difference between investments and costs
Investments make regular contributions to profits going forward. Costs take profits away. If you look at your bank statement from last month ask yourself what was an investment and what was a cost. Are there ways to turn your costs into investments or to get rid of the costs altogether? Sometimes it is as simple as saving enough so that the interest covers the cost into the future.
Focus on improving your product
The best entrepreneurs constantly invest in improving their product. Products bring the profits so there is nothing better to invest in that a better product. When you have the best product then people buy it because it simply cannot be compared.
Keep overheads down
Overheads are costs that do not contribute to profit. Some management consultants would say that overhead costs in the business often walk on two legs. Every resource that is not involved in revenue generation messes up the Profit = Sales – Costs relationship by adding more costs. A certain amount of overhead is necessary – but nobody ever got fired for reducing overheads. The converse is also true. If costs are in relation to what is being provided for customers – that means that customers pay for what they get. Make sure that costs and savings are passed onto your customers.
Ego and vanity is an overhead.
Large businesses have failed due to expensive luxuries, executive compensation, big head offices and too many staff not involved in production. This is rewarding ineffectiveness. If you are more concerned with looking good than getting business – you end up failing at both. If you are more concerned with getting your customer the best product – you end up getting both.
Bank in the bank
Entrepreneurs and mere mortals tend to use money that they have not received yet, to build on plans that they have for the future. Living within your means and building on the free cash flow that you have in the bank for expansion is one of the wisest lessons that you can learn. If you need more money to invest, cut your expenses and increase your revenues. Expansion and investment using the principle of free cash flow not only allows you to grow prudently and also creates sustainability. Rushing things means that you use future profits and this invariably means that you overextend. Cash is king and free cash flow is the king of cash flow.
Get the best out of your people
You can choose to buy good people, but put them into a poor structure. You need to both recruit the best people and set them up for success and build a strong team culture, team identity and collective knowledge. Recruitment needs to be a tough process that sets people up to succeed and to understand the job. People need to take ownership of their results through understanding that the whole is greater than the sum of the parts. Using education and training to motivate, empower and skill up people is critical. Never hire cheap resources and try to skill them up – it does not work.
Big picture leadership – small picture management
It is important to understand and lead using the big picture. Everyone must understand where we are going and that we are going to get there. The daily activities needs to be managed using a small picture that looks at planning, leading, organising and controlling the outcomes of the actions in front of us so that it moves us towards the big picture. One person described it as having a telescope to look at where we are going and a microscope to check that we are doing it right.
Be positive – success creates success and failure is not an option
Being negative destroys more businesses, ideas and people than any other single force on earth. Being positive about the direction we are taking and making a determined effort towards that is rewarding and makes the challenges worthwhile and interesting.
If you gamble – you will not be happy. Entrepreneurs do not gamble – they wait for the right opportunity and then make the most of it. We often think they gamble because we cannot see the end result which is very clear for them.
Decisions must be informed
It is tempting to move into a situation and just start making decisions. A wise entrepreneur first gets facts and validations, understands the options and implications. When they then do make a decision – it stands firm as it is informed. It is important to be decisive to get stuff done – but it is also important to consult with others to make the best decisions. Small mistakes in the beginning can cost a lot of money later.
Ask yourself what happens after 3, 6 and 9 months and 1, 2 and 3 years. If you update this forecast weekly you will have a good view of what is on the horizon.
Plan B and Plan C
Great strategists and entrepreneurs always have a second and third option and have some alternatives to bring to bear to a situation. Never get caught out as being unprepared – especially when there is a risk.
Provide what people want to buy and price it right.
People want great products and the price follows. Listen to your customer when designing your product and when pricing it.
Concentrate and focus on your goals
If you have one goal – bring all your attention to that goal and you will succeed. This is human nature and entrepreneurs and great business people understand that a singular focus is always achieved.
Spread the word
Good service and a great product will always get talked about. Publicity and marketing is a way to fuel this message but not a way to create it. You can get a lot of good PR from a product if it is successful but a look of good PR cannot make a poor product successful in the long run.
This article focused on some practical advice in management, entrepreneurship and life in general. You can be your own mentor and coach – you just need to go out there and look for the wisdom that works for you and stick to your approach to make it work.