18 Lessons I Learned As An Entrepreneur (How To Succeed In Business)
Do I think I'm successful? Do you think I know how to succeed in business?
In many ways – the answer is ‘yes'. I've certainly achieved a lot of my professional and personal goals in life.
But I've also had failures along the way. Setbacks are all part of a man's journey to success.
The many different experiences I've gone through over the years have been incredibly valuable to me. They've been my source of inspiration for knowing what works and what doesn't. After all – with experience comes knowledge and wisdom.
But what if you're starting out? How can you know the dos and don'ts of building a business if you lack the experience necessary to have gained wisdom in the school of hard knocks?
Gents, that's where I come in. I'm going to take you through 18 of the lessons I've learned over the years, so you guys don't have to make the same mistakes in order to grow as entrepreneurs.
Let's get started.
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Business Lesson #1 – No Man Is An Island
When I first became an entrepreneur 10 years ago, I was on my own. A lone wolf.
I had all the ideas, but I never took the time to share these ideas with like-minded men. Guys, this was a great hindrance to my personal development as a business owner.
I'm much happier now, not just because my business has been making money, but also because of the people I've made connections with. Humans are social beings, after all.
An entrepreneur's journey shouldn't be a solo one. There are people who'll want to support you. People who've been there and got the t-shirt who can provide solid advice. Kind of like what I'm doing for you gents in this article.
This may sound odd, but reach out to other entrepreneurs in your industry.
That's right, your competitors. Why? They'll be your best buddies. I enjoy hanging out with Aaron Marino (Alpha M) because our businesses thrive within the same niche.
Through friendly competition and beneficial collaboration, we push each other to excel in ways we never thought we could. Competition is the fuelling factor behind men that know how to succeed in business.
Business Lesson #2 – Build Good Relationships
How would you react to a guy who approaches you and says, “Hi, I'm __. I have this great business idea. Want to work with me?”
Why not? Because as an entrepreneur, you're not hard-selling on the street.
The key to developing good business relationships is being personable – let other people warm up to you and your ideas before throwing business plans in their faces.
Go in too strong, and you might only turn them off by clearly showing your agenda before getting to know them.
To build real relationships, you need to connect with people personally – life isn't all about brass tax.
Next time you're at a networking event, try starting conversations with small talk. Finding out common interests will help you learn how to succeed in business.
Let your conversation be organic, and trust that the subject of business will come up naturally in the flow of friendly conversation.
Business Lesson #3 – Prioritize Your Time
Instead of saying “I don't have time” for this or that, simply tell yourself to avoid doing what's NOT important.
When you plan your time, it's vital that you immediately pinpoint whether or not a certain task is a priority (meaning it'll directly affect your business).
Considering scheduling an hour into your day to play video games with your buddies? Fine – but just think about what else you could be doing with that time. Could you instead spend that hour researching in your field of business?
Now – I'm not saying to completely rid yourself of your social life. That will just lead to business burnout which is a dangerous thing.
What I am saying is consider your time as the most valuable thing you own. Spend it wisely and make sure the majority of it goes towards improving what you're passionate about. Self-awareness is a key factor when considering how to succeed in business.
Business Lesson #4 – Say NO More Often Than You Say YES
Being a “yes” man is dangerous. If there are more things you commit to instead of reject, you'll be saying no to the crucial stuff later on.
Your time is finite. Your energy for the day is limited. So outside of family and those you're obliged to, avoid accepting requests that may compromise your business goals.
If people know you as a guy that rarely says yes to a proposition, chances are they'll take you more seriously when you do come around to their ideas and suggestions.
Business Lesson #5 – Apply The Pareto Principle
Have you ever heard of the “80-20 Rule” by economist Vilfredo Pareto?
For those not in the know – it's an economical theory founded in 1906 when Pareto discovered that 20% of the Italian people owned 80% of all the wealth in Italy.
From this statistic, Pareto formulated the broader theory that 20% of your efforts in anything yields 80% of your total return.
So what's the point here?
Simple: your immediate focus should be on how to succeed in business. Spending the first 20% of your time being productive and growing your empire will theoretically produce a bigger yield than doing so in the final 20% of your day.
As such, you should consider all other tasks in your checklist as secondary items that can be pushed back for later in the day, next week, or even next month.
Business Lesson #6 – Don't Lie To Yourself
“I'll make that deadline.”
“I can have my channel launched according to schedule.”
“There's nothing more about my product to improve.”
Sometimes these statements might be true – but a lot of the time phrases like these are just excuses to avoid extra work.
You might be able to kid those around you – but what's the point in lying to yourself? At the end of the day – if your gut tells you everything isn't 100% set, chances are you're lying to yourself.
There's no shame in not meeting personal deadlines now and again. It's better to admit it to yourself early on and consider how you can manage things better in the future than continue to lie to yourself and allow your business to suffer as a result.
Business Lesson #7 – Listen To Those You Respect
Sorry to break it to you, gents. The fact is you don't know everything there is to know about your business niche and never will.
That's okay – no single man knows everything. However, get 10 similar guys in the same room and the chances of widespread knowledge significantly rise.
My point is – consider your own knowledge limited at all times and don't be afraid to listen to the advice of those you respect.
Now I'm not saying listen to everybody – while you want to be open to constructive feedback and suggestions, be selective with those you listen to. It's okay to hear what different people say, but learn to block out the comments of those who are out to put you down and stunt your growth.
By now, your mind should already be made up on who you trust to give constructive feedback on how to succeed in business. Ask yourself: whose voices really matter to me? Who has followed their own advice and succeeded?
Who do you really respect? The list might be short – but those guys will be like fountains of knowledge for you to gain great insights from.
Business Lesson #8 – Be Independent
Now I know I just said to listen to those around you. After all – listening is a good thing.
However, dropping back on your authority by letting others make decisions for you? That's not such a good thing.
Remember: it's your life. It's your business in the making. It's your vision.
If you want to take pride in your future successes – it's vital to call the shots and be ready to face the consequences of those decisions.
That's the only way you'll stay clear of anyone who tries to deceive or manipulate you for their own personal gain. The fact is entrepreneurship is like jungle survival – you're either a fierce predator or helpless prey.
Business Lesson #9 – Create A Good Working Environment
There's a reason I maintain a good atmosphere and a drama-free environment at RMRS – I want my company associated with positivity.
It's important to me that people know my brand as one that builds others up instead of tearing them down. Sure, some ideas I might contest and suggest improvements on – but this is always done in the spirit of aiding personal development rather than indulging in arrogance.
I believe in good karma, gents. Treat others how you wish to be treated yourself and you're pretty much guaranteed to get the best result from those who work from you.
Business Lesson #10 – Know Your Worth
Every entrepreneur should treat customers like the most important people around. After all – your customers are essentially the people you rely on to pay the bills. Without them – your business could run at a loss.
Of course, every man has to have expectations and self-respect. Being good to your customers doesn't mean giving them whatever they want whenever they want.
‘The customer is not always right – but they are the customer. So if they are wrong, let them be wrong with dignity and respect.' – Shep Hyken
For example – my business is providing good advice to men looking to improve their style. I'll pass on my thoughts, constructive criticisms, and help in every single way that I possibly can. However, it's not my place to go out and buy every single one of my customers a new wardrobe from my own pocket.
What I'm trying to say is you should treat your customers well within the boundaries of your service. Be patient, be kind but don't let them take you for a ride.
Business Lesson #11 – Accept Your Weaknesses
You're not good at everything.
It's hard to admit – I know.
However, I'll let you in on a little secret. Turning yourself into an expert in every aspect of your business is harder work than simply employing someone who can do the job better than you can.
Straight after reading this article, I want you guys to identify where your weaknesses lie.
By doing this, you will gain insight into the areas of your business model that you might need to employ someone to assist with. Even if it means hiring a sales guy who takes 25% of the loot, it's the better option if selling isn't your forte.
In the long run – employing an expert at a cost will actually end up increasing your future profits. Sure, it might sting at first but trust me when I say that paying the right man for the job pays off more often than not.
Business Lesson #12 – Success Isn't Guaranteed
Many people understandably prefer a guaranteed paycheck with a fixed sum of money.
No risk, uncertainty, or sleepless nights.
However, knowing how to succeed in business is also accepting that what you're doing is risky. You've got to make decisions based on faith, even if there's little evidence your plan will work.
With risk comes the possibility of both failure and success. At the end of the day, entrepreneurship is about playing your best hand and working with what you've got.
Just be aware that sometimes you might fail. That's okay – pick yourself back up, dust off the scuffs, and carry on with the grind.
Business Lesson #13 – Face Your Fears
Never let fear stop you from taking action – let it push you forward into succeeding like you never thought you could.
If you're scared of the unknown, don't forget that every entrepreneur has been there and every future one will be.
In most cases, taking a calculated risk (one that you've researched and concluded to be worthwhile) is a better way of succeeding than taking a leap of faith.
After all, the more realistic your goals look, the better you'll manage your fears.
Knowing how to succeed in business is all about weighing up the pros and cons and acting regardless of the fear that comes with risky decisions.
Business Lesson #14 – Embrace Failure
Rejections will come. Disappointments will be felt.
Don't let them prevent you from trying again and again until you get it right. You decide when to stop.
A good mantra for any entrepreneur is:
When you fail, fail fast.
Basically: pick yourself back up the very second you fall.
Success is all about the ways you reassess your failings and search for something else that works. Only consider quitting if:
- You feel you've tried everything doable
- People you care for are negatively affected.
Business Lesson #15 – Own Your Business (Don't Let It Own You)
Bear in mind that you're a person first and an entrepreneur second.
You must establish barriers between the business and non-business aspects of your life. Otherwise, you'll end up living the same narrative as those workaholics in Click and The Devil Wears Prada.
A long-term goal you should strive towards is the total systematization of your business so it can eventually run on its own. That means you won't have to sacrifice so much personal time to constantly check up on things.
Family and personal relationships should always take priority – don't let your home life suffer for the sake of profit. After all – what's the use in money if you haven't got a great family to enjoy it with?
Business Lesson #16 – Work Smart And Know Your Limits
Know this: the average entrepreneur works effectively for 35 hours a week (not 40).
The problem with more hours is you tend to expand the time it takes to complete a certain task rather than use your time effectively.
Fewer hours will help you cut all the “fat” off your agenda each day. You'll focus on what really matters to gain the highest possible returns.
It's important to note that as you work, you become more and more tired. Somewhere within your day you'll reach peak performance and from that moment your productivity levels will begin to drop. Managing your time correctly and knowing when enough is enough is a key skill when considering how to succeed in business.
Business Lesson #17 – Never Stop Learning
Whether you're fresh out of college or have 20 years' managerial experience in the bag, learning never ends.
No matter how much you think you know, you can always read or listen to new ideas and perspectives. That's how to stay on top your game as an entrepreneur.
As the years pass, more and more new information becomes available on business theory and market economics. If you don't keep up to date on the latest research, chances are your business will fall behind the times and fade into obscurity.
In order to avoid this – make sure you're always improving your knowledge bank. Listen to podcasts, read books and watch documentaries on your own business interests. Doing so will not only keep you up to date but will also provide you with a more productive pastime than that games console in your lounge ever could.
Business Lesson #18 – Take Good Care Of Your Body
I once attended a coaching program in Chicago along with 50 other business owners, most of whom were more successful than I was.
We were all asked what we'd like to improve about ourselves in the next three years.
Surprisingly, 75% of those great men mentioned their health when considering how to succeed in business and improve their lives in general.
If even successful people who presumably have lots of money might have trouble taking care of themselves, what about new entrepreneurs?
It's a medical fact that your body needs the right nutrition, plus enough rest and exercise in order for you to stay sharp and productive. What's the use in a great brain if you haven't provided your body with the correct nutrition to fuel it at 100% capacity?
My advice would be to invest in healthy foods that will help to fuel your body and mind for a day of good hustling. Don't let what you eat get in the way of your potential successes. Sure, burgers are pretty nice – but profits are much, much nicer.
18 Lessons I Learned As An Entrepreneur
There we have it, gents – 18 important lessons I'm passing on to current and future entrepreneurs who need clarity on succeeding in business.
At the end of the day, every man will learn from his own achievements and errors along his path to business success. Despite my experience – there will be items missing from this list. Not because I forgot to put them in, but simply because I'm still learning myself.
After all these years, I can still confirm that running a business isn't easy. However, with the right preparation and the right people around you – success will eventually come knocking on the door.
Just be patient, stay consistent, and always have fun along the way!
Good luck, gentlemen.
Want to know more about how to succeed in business? Check out my 5 tips to create the perfect business card.
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