In business communities that I’m a part of, it’s a common subject to exchange our successful business practices, habits and routines. After years of trial and error for a lot of us entrepreneurs, we find that we end up learning the same lessons and doing the same things. Now, as with any business or service, this tells you of course that management, expansion and all of the related business activities can be standardized. Unfortunately for a lot of students I run into, this is not what they are coming out of a lot of colleges understanding. Here is my personal top ten list, and in no particular order (which is subject to change after another 10 years!):
Ok, so we all remember the old adage “Jack of all Trades, Master of None”. Well, apparently it’s true in business. Look at the Eye Specialist and the General Practitioner. Who drives the $80k BMW 7 Series? Not the General Practitioner. Create and execute a generalized marketing campaign to “everyone” and see how it goes. It will tank. Sell generalized work in a field – overwhelm yourself with work from all angles doing everything and you’ll find you’ll never be a professional at any one of them and your client will suffer, you’ll burn out and your income will never rise in your organization. Look at consulting specialists – buried in work and successful, specialized construction companies – somehow they’ve weathered the bad recession (even if barely) as the general contractors were folding up left and right. You get the picture. You’ve got to pick something you can get behind, stick with it, do it, become incredible at it, and you have to be able to turn down work that doesn’t align with your specialty.
2. You can’t do it all yourself
Let’s get logistical in this one. You can only work 40-80 hours per week, and even at that higher number, you will burn out and become the workaholic. Hire one person, and right there you can get 80 hours of work done in a week. 3 people? 120 hours per week. Of course you must train and apprentice them and it does come with other responsibilities, but if you want to expand you have to confront that it can’t always be you, others can get good at this stuff too and *gasp* might even surpass your knowledge and skills on that job.
3. You must have a great team
This is related to #2 above. Some people won’t hire because of their past experiences with staff. But without a great team, you will be on every decision point in your company and get bogged down into everything unless you can get some great people who can manage, decide and get something done. I have a great track record of great hires. This is why, and it’s very simple:
- I only hire people who look genuinely happy, they laugh readily, genuine communication and personalities – even if they are bit quirky like some engineers are. Genuine = good.
- They must like the work they are getting hired for, not just taking a job for a paycheck
- They must be willing to make decisions and contribute to the growth of the company
- Money isn’t what they talk about in a job interview, they talk about wanting to be happy where they work and enjoying the day to day experience and people they are with
- They sell me on what they can contribute. Love it. I love being sold by new hires
- No gossipers, fake personalities, people with bad general manners
- Spend too much time in the interview complaining about your last employer? Bye Bye.
- General good vibe. If you don’t get the warm fuzzy soon, trust yourself, don’t second guess your perception – you’re probably right and you should not pull the trigger.
- I almost never read resume’s for more than a few seconds. I want face time, real communication. I want to gauge the person I’m going to be spending a large portion of my day with. I have to like them, it’s my team.
- If you have an employee that is always on your mind (and not in a positive way), don’t waste time, let them go quick. Ever step in dog poo? Know how hard it is to get off and the emotion that comes with it? There’s people like that unfortunately. There’s a reason they’re always on your mind – they are not contributing to your growth and deep down, you know it. The longer you wait the worse it gets. Good people RELIEVE your attention in your business and free you up, people you don’t want CONTINUALLY BURDEN your attention. Don’t hesitate, do it and watch you company expand.
4. Your Service must be killer
You’d think this is standard, but today people are too busy thinking with working as little as possible for as much as possible, that’s just not how it goes. Figure that out early. Whatever you do, you’d better be good. And if you KNOW you’re not, get good quick. Everything suffers without you knowing it is great. Sales, delivery, etc. all suffer because you did not invest the right time being the best. Be the best, know it and you’ll see the result in your expansion. If you know that, there is no such thing as “competition”.
5. You must have excellent communication skills
This means inside the company and out – with your clients, with your staff, with your vendors. Take your client’s calls, make them understand, make your staff understand things and don’t cut them off from management. Look at your own personal opinion of people who you try and call all the time and that don’t call you back. You don’t want to be that guy or gal.
6. Market like a machine gun
This is related to #1. Once you know your specialty, market what you do like crazy, every week and make it a heavy routine. Make sure you know what they want, do it like a madman and market yourself to every single person in that niche market as fast and hard as you can – worldwide.
7. Think bigger than everyone else
Small thinkers get small. Big thinkers get big. Pretty funny but true. Even funnier, small thinkers actually get less than they wanted. For example, maybe they want to make $100k per year personally, they actually will only make $50k and wonder why. The big thinker wants to make $50k per week, he’ll figure it out and make it, but later on set an even bigger game. Always keep your head in the future as the President or Owner, and make big goals and targets for you and your company. Get conservative with your goals and you get mediocrity. We don’t want that.
8. Study, Study, Study
Read your trade mags, keep up with your industry, keep at the forefront of technology. Don’t become a dinosaur. Or even better: hire someone way smarter than you and make them train you. And don’t forget to make it worth their while to do so.
9. Be Organized
Without it, kiss your business goodbye at some point in the future due to some “mysterious” factor which if you were organized, could have been avoided. Make sure your files are organized, keep up with your finances every week, keep statistics on your growth or lack of in every single dept. of your company. I personally watch about 40 production statistics I’ve created and all of my individual finance stats. I know exactly where we are, where we are going, and can actually predict slumps and avert them thanks to organizing.
10. Unplug every once in a while
My wife kept telling me this one for years. I finally listened. Go on vacation. Get a sports car or motorcycle and go drive it. Go to the movies…whatever you like personally. Work hard when you’re at work, then unplug when you can. You’ll come back refreshed and ready.
Dan York, Founder