Good business advice can come from any place, at any time in an entrepreneur’s journey. Some of those lessons will come directly from mentors and fellow business leaders; other times, they’re learned through firsthand experience. No matter the source, some tips can be so impactful that they influence the course of an entrepreneur’s business.
The experts of Young Entrepreneur Council each have their own pieces of game-changing advice they’ve discovered along their journey. Below, nine of them share the best lessons they’ve learned that they want to pass along to fellow small business owners.
1. Always Have A Backup Plan
The best business tip I have received so far is to have a backup plan for all your moves. Setting up a successful business requires time, money, a lot of hard work and a bit of luck. Some days might give you the lowest of lows and some may be amazingly good, so you need to prepare yourself accordingly. Your plans may not work out every time like you wish they would. For such times, you need to have a backup plan to save the damage. Having a backup plan can be super helpful, especially when you’re just starting out. – Josh Kohlbach, Wholesale Suite
2. Niche Down And Focus
When a new business wants to make an entrance into a market, the tendency is to try to reach everyone. But when you try to be everything to everyone, you end up speaking to nobody. I used to sell electric bikes to everyone, and it was hard to be heard and noticed among every other e-bike store also trying to reach everyone. I decided to niche down and focus on hunters. Once I decided to only serve hunters, my messaging became laser-focused and I became the go-to place for hunters looking for e-bikes. Advertising can be targeted; email marketing and website content can be a single tone that speaks to your audience. It is daunting to turn your back on the majority of your potential customers, but by being laser-targeted, you can go much further. – John Murphy, eBike Generation
3. Become The Best At One Thing Before You Branch Out
What I’ve found is that starting with one product or niche and establishing it as the best in the industry is key before you branch out. Even if you have several ideas from the outset, pick the best or most developed one first and put your all into it before you develop and launch the rest. Don’t try to be a jack-of-all-trades. Focus on making it in just one niche at the beginning, as this provides a stable foundation for you to build upon in the future. Once customers trust your initial product offering and you have a large, loyal customer base, you can start to expand your offering with a greater chance of success. – Emily Stallings, Casely, Inc.
4. Make The Right Connections
Along my business journey, I learned that the connections you make matter a lot. Networking goes a lot further than you’d think, and a lot of my success comes from making the right connections and talking to the right people. If you wanted to open an ice cream shop, you wouldn’t talk to a professional landscaper for tips. You’d get insights from other ice cream store owners who can help you understand the market, audience, demand and much more. It’s important to keep the right people in your circle to benefit from their expertise. – Jared Atchison, WPForms
5. Start Now And Adjust As You Go
Just start. Stop trying to create the perfect product or service right away. Often, refining your product comes with time and experience. It’s rare that you ever hear of a perfectly viable and competitive product out of the gate. That’s why it’s better to simply start and make adjustments and revamps as needed. Let the market dictate what you have to do next. The key is to start and then adapt later. – Amine Rahal, IronMonk Solutions
6. Focus On Being Memorable
I think the real secret to business success is to be memorable. You can’t get hired, have your inventory purchased or sell your time if no one remembers who you are. This means thinking outside the box and going out of your and your customers’ comfort zones. Abandon traditional sales tactics and staid meetings. The best sales pitch I’ve ever heard included someone bringing their customer some brisket they had made themselves the night before. I’m not saying be gimmicky, but your slide deck isn’t going to stand out anymore. What is something unique about you or where you live? Try to use that to make an authentic, memorable connection with your customer. People want to be delighted; just doing something small can make you stand out from the competition in a big way. – Ashley Sharp, Dwell with Dignity
7. Run Your Business In Your Own Building
One game-changing tip is to own a building. In fact, I wish I had my own building a lot sooner. I have found that there are many tax benefits from owning your own building, such as depreciation, deductions for income taxes and interest expense tax deductions, not to mention increased equity. Second, owning your own building lets you create a better environment for your employees. Remodeling to suit your own needs and the needs of your employees is definitely worth it. When my company moved into our own building, it significantly boosted employee morale, which is itself a primary reason to do it. – Shu Saito, Fact Retriever
8. Be Selective About Your Mentors
When you are starting out, everyone who has some success as an entrepreneur seems like a possible mentor, but you need to be certain to vet a mentor as thoroughly as potential employees. Many “mentors” have heavily branded social media without the IRL clout to back it up. With fake followers, cheap graphics and snappy content, it is easy to fall prey to false social media prophets. Be careful who you follow. Read and follow mentors who have a proven record of million-dollar ideas, companies or followers. Better to follow Warren Buffet and Elon Musk than allow yourself to be influenced by an Instagram coach with pithy dialogue and no business acumen. – Matthew Capala, Alphametic
9. Enjoy The Journey
The one business tip that I would love to pass on is to enjoy the journey to success. This sounds simple, but we are all guilty of placing our happiness on statements like “I will be successful when…” rather than seeing our success along the way. The truth is, when you achieve those events or milestones that you are currently pedestaling, you will find that the happiness “high” will be brief. We are programmed to always desire more as humans and this is why we immediately begin to work toward our next goal as soon as we have achieved our latest. If you focus on enjoying the process of achievement, you will find that your overall joy and happiness, in turn, will also increase. This will help you to be more present in your journey and will only help you in achieving more success. – Leanne Lopez Mosley, GROW Coaching Solutions