By Nancy Shenker
10. First, you really do need to try. No one has ever succeeded in business without some amount of intent, exertion, talent, brilliant ideas, focus, commitment, flexibility, connections, or a healthy dose of all of them. Business is all about passion, attention to critical detail, and perseverance.
9. Think big picture and long term. Have a vision for where you are heading. Make sure you have a plan…a real one that’s written down. Your inner circle (see #7) can help to keep you on track.
8. That said, sweat the IMPORTANT small stuff too…especially your financials. “If it doesn’t make money, it doesn’t make sense.” Quality is still important (especially to customers).
7. Build your inner circle. Develop a small group of trusted advisors who you can go to for advice, creative thinking, and even just a cocktail or two and a shoulder to weep on when times are tough. When you find people you can trust, cling to them tightly (of course not literally…touching in the workplace can create legal issues). Don’t attempt to do everything yourself. Outsourcing can be your friend. Learn to delegate well.
6. Stay fresh. This is not a reference to personal hygiene. We’re talking about getting out and expanding your world. Read, read, read. Attend conferences (even those outside your industry). Remain open to new ideas. Do not begin every sentence with “Yes, but….” Instead, think “Here’s how….” Get out of your office and attend events. Talk to strangers.
5. Mourn fast and move on. Learn from past mistakes and don’t spend a lot of time beating yourself up. Don’t blame others either. Just dissect what went wrong, how it could have been avoided, and what you will do next time.
4. Care about people. If you’re the boss, hire slowly and cut your losses quickly when you make a hiring mistake. A great employee or partner is invaluable. Be a good leader. Inspire and reward. Take time to teach and groom the right people. Celebrate successes. You want your team to look forward to coming into work. If you’re not the boss, do not engage in gossip or negativity. Display a can-do attitude and build a good working relationship with your boss…ask him/her how you can do a better job.
3. Take time to take care of yourself–and others. Your business will not succeed if you are sick (or, worse yet, dead). Vacations, family time, exercise, healthy eating, and laughter are all important. Giving back to others (through non-profits, volunteer work, and involvement in your community) is not only good for society but they’ll make you feel better too. And you’ll meet some cool people (which can be good for business).
2. Don’t poo-poo or shy away from technology. It’s here to stay. Make it your friend but do not become its slave. Learn how to use social media to expand your circle and connect with customers. Get the right kind of training. Everyone these days claims to be a guru or rock star. Social media has only been around for a few years and was invented by a college kid–not a business man. It’s still in its infancy. We’re all still figuring out its true value, so make sure you’re not spending too much time “dabbling.” It’s an enhancement to traditional business–not a replacement. Buy and use only devices that will save you time and make your life easier. Don’t invest in technology just so you can feel groovier. And humanity is still REALLY important–maybe even more than ever before.
1. Listen to your customers. Respect your customers. At the end of the day, these are the people who keep you in business and can give you ideas that will make your business better. Know who your customers are, what they want, and how you can serve them better. In short, love your customers.
Nancy A. Shenker is the CEO and Founder of theONswitch, a marketing company that combines traditional and new media to build businesses. She is a late-life entrepreneur, having spent the first part of her career in executive positions at Reed Exhibitions, MasterCard International, and Citibank. She lives in Chappaqua and serves customers from coast-to-coast. Her latest venture, www.nunumedia.com, includes a series of business comic books called Bad Girl Good Business. She loves making lists.