Building Your Business
Best Advice to Small Business Owners.
Goldman Sachs as part of a LaGuardia Community College event in New York, asked some business leaders* in to share their thoughts on building a business. The comments cover -
Mark Cuban is the owner of the NBA Dallas Mavericks basketball club had a YouTube video (now removed) that promoted the following thoughts -
This page is specifically about small home based businesses. For a more in-depth look at business take a look at the 'Business Development' pages.
- Respect everyone: Apart from being the civilised thing to do, you never know how helpful someone could be to you and your business.
- Be ethical in all of your dealings: Maintaining good ethical standards is the least you can do for the people you do business with. What's great is that it's also good for business. You will retain more customers, you will get more referral business and you won't have to always be looking over your shoulder.
- Be truthful not hateful. Speak your truths consistently and without being combative or aggressive: It's important that people know what you stand for. Mostly people will accept your views as long as they feel they are honestly held and that they are under no obligation to agree with you. Naturally the truths I am speaking of are those that would be deemed acceptable in a tolerant society. Hatred and bigotry are never acceptable.
- .Listen to the truths of others without being combative: In the same way you would like people to tolerate your truths you must be tolerant of others when there views differ. This excludes hatred and bigotry against which we must all make a stand.
- Avoid belligerent people: Everyone will have an opinion on how you should build your business. The problem is most of the people willing to give advice have never built anything of their own. The worst of the these are the belligerents. As you read someone you know has probably come to mind. The self opinionated loud-mouth who likes to tell everyone where they are going wrong. DON'T SPEAK TO THEM. Their negativity will just waste time and hold you back.
- Take comfort from your achievements: Every win you get is valuable and worth celebrating. Don't fall into the trap of only thinking about what you lost. Think of the losses as mini steps towards the next win.
- Value your work and prioritise your career: What you do makes a difference. Every small business on the planet contributes in a meaningful way to the economic development of their region.
- Be sceptical, there are personal and professional tricksters: Small to medium-sized businesses are prime targets for the fraudsters. Often the need to generate money/sales is so great that business owners have lapses in judgement. Remember the old saying "if it seems to good to be true...". One thing to consider; real businesses don't start with threats. If anyone demands money for services you don't recognise take advice. If you are worried email me.
- Don't automatically accept or reject anything. Investigate and test everything: It's easy to become too cynical or too cautious. Opportunities are all around us and we must make the most of them, after we have done our 'due diligence'. The Novelist Graham Greene opined that in the modern world things could no longer be taken just as black or white; grey was the new alternative.
- Avoid becoming cynical, recognise virtue, high ideals and heroism: There are lots of people out there who just want to help and would make great supporters of what you are trying to do. Be open-minded enough to see them when they cross your path.
- Be yourself: don't flatter or fake love/affection: Think about how you feel when people come at you with fake smiles and insincere comments. No matter how tempted you are to act otherwise, always be yourself. It's better to let people see the 'real' you from the beginning. You will keep customers and friends a lot longer that way.
- Recognise the power of love: Love takes many forms. Here I'm talking about the compassionate kind that sees strangers help strangers in times of crisis. Try to show people around you compassion all of the time not just when there are problems.
- Embrace change especially that which comes from ageing: One of the hardest things I have dealt with is watching my children leave home and start their own lives. On the one hand it's the way of things and I am proud of seeing them grow. On the other hand I miss the having them around. Likewise all of us have to deal with the ageing process. As we mature some things are lost to us, but, if we accept this and grow into the changes, we will discover that as our physical powers fade our emotional and mindful abilities flourish. If we open our minds to the world everything becomes much more self-evident and there comes a clarity of thought that was denied our younger selves.
- Use your years of experience wisely: I have never accepted the idea that "It's always been done this way" as a reason for continuing something. As we grow as individuals it becomes incumbent upon us to question everything and test what we find against our own experience. Our experience gives us the right to ask questions and expect answers.
- Don't allow your mind to create problems and give birth to monsters: Uncontrolled thought will destroy you. It is the human condition to see problems around every corner. Perceived threats will dominate our lives if we let them. The good thing is we don't have to let them. Without some form of proof a thought is just a thought. Don't treat unproven thoughts as if they are true. If you do they will inevitably spawn other random thoughts which in turn generate even more spurious thoughts. When unhelpful thoughts occur, accept them for what they are and choose to think about something else. In terms of business don't worry about what might happen to things you can't control, concentrate on all of the things you can control.
- Learn how to take strength from everything you believe: A positive belief in your ability feeds motivation. A positive belief in what you are doing attracts others. A positive belief in your future sustains you when things go wrong.
- Recognise when you are tired and need a break: Fatigue is a major issue in sport. Being physically and psychologically impaired at best leads to reduced performance at worst it causes mistakes. Managers and coaches are constantly looking for signs of fatigue and ways to minimise it’s effects. In my sport of basketball the coach can take players in-and-out of a game. In football you will hear of players being rested for specific games. The players almost never agree that they are too tired to perform. Whatever the circumstance it is up to the ‘leader’ to make a decision. The problem for people working at home is that they are often both leader and performer. This can lead to an unsustainable ‘work-ethic’. When this happens it’s only a matter of time until your body forces you to rest! NOTE: Rests don't have to be massive I find around 10 minutes every hour is enough to keep my head clear.
- Have the resolve to rest when you need rest: Unless you are in the middle of an emergency, heed your body, take a rest.
- Know yourself. Don't criticise yourself. Accept who you are and what you have done as part of your life. It is part of what makes you, you: It's where everything starts. You need to know where you have been and where you are now, before you can decide where you are going. A small example of this from my life is that I am a 'morning person'. I am most productive between 5am and 1pm. After that I am in decline and my work suffers so I create things in the mornings, rest and then 'dig holes' in the afternoon. For me digging holes are the boring but important jobs that must be done. Dealing with paperwork, updating the accounts, issuing invoices, organising office supplies, opening the post, answering emails, reading relevant publications, tidying up etc. etc.
- Make peace with yourself and everyone around you: Chaos almost never delivers success. Whatever the cause it is imperative that you create peaceful and supportive relationships with everyone that can impact on your success. Family, customers, suppliers and even the neighbours
- Make peace with your own weaknesses and the weaknesses of everyone around you: All you can reasonably expect is that you and everyone around you is fully committed. Demanding/expecting outcomes that are beyond a person's abilities is pointless. Establishing a no-blame, non-judgemental culture in your business starts with accepting the strengths and weaknesses of everyone involved.
- BE HAPPY: In the book Nicomachean Ethics, Aristotle says "Human happiness lies in activity..."
2. Why we do what we do.
2. Draw your future.
- Look for new business every day. There are five main places to look. Existing customers for repeat orders, existing customers for referrals, advertising, professionals in a position to pass you business and people you have a steady and ongoing relationships with (networking).
- Make sure you are legal. Keep in front of all legal requirements in your region. Especially tax.
- Make sure you are properly insured. You may want to visit the page on Business Insurance.
- Establish a routine. I find it helpful to clearly define the primary stages of the business and build a routine around them. Commonly a business will get products in, sell products and keep records. Each of these stages can then be broken down into steps. Once you have all the steps you can apply timescales and decide who is responsible for what. Take a look at the Time Management page.
- Make time for rest and exercise and recreation. I divide my workday into three 'blocks', 5am to noon, 1pm to 5pm and from 6pm until going Bo Bo. I will only ever work 2 of the 3 blocks the other block is for rest and exercise and recreation. I break down each block into a series of tasks. I try to plan my days at least 2 weeks ahead.
- Stop wasting time. Today we are all connected 24/7. This is great but it can also be a huge distraction. During your work blocks stay away from anything that does not directly grow or make money for your business.