Advice is a funny thing- it can be really good, really bad or generally useless. But when it IS good, it can really have an impact upon you and your business. I reached out to valued experts and entrepreneurs and I am excited to present more than 160 pieces of the best business advice that entrepreneurs have ever received (in no particular order). You may notice some similar themes, but I kept the insights separate as something in the way it is framed may resonate differently with you.
1. Give to Get
When you have good knowledge or content, do not be afraid to give it away. Giving some information away will demonstrate you are willing to help others be successful. By giving information away, you will also demonstrate your expertise and convince others you are an expert. When you become an expert, you will gain new business from clients and referrals.
2. Wise Words from Henry Ford
While I never met Henry Ford (I'm too young to have known him), his words live on and have inspired me on many a day:
Whether you think you can or think you can't, you're right.
Believing I could start and grow my business played a huge role in the success I am now enjoying. Thoughts become things. What thoughts are YOU thinking?
3. They May Be Paying, but Right?
Businesses constantly receive requests and advice. Whether it's customers looking for a more customized product, associates offering unsolicited suggestions, or potential partners with an eye to the future, it's always beneficial to take the time to listen. At the same time, it's important to evaluate with a critical eye whether such recommendations make sense for your business in the long term. It may earn you an additional client in the short term, but shoot you in the foot down the road.
4. It's the People
Business is only about people...everything else is second.
5. Work Smarter
It's not about working harder, it's about working smarter. You should be focusing your efforts on things that matter the most, rather than just doing everything and anything. You will be much more efficient that way.
6. Give it Back
The best piece of business advice I ever received which changed my life was that the heart of doing business is all about what you can do to benefit others. Making money is great, but in the end, if all or part of your life's work and business does not go toward benefiting others, you will never know the full joy of creating abundance both for yourself and others. The beauty of money and great business ventures is the way they can effect the lives of others and most especially your own!
7. Basic to Life and Business
When thinking of business tips, most people think of having a business or marketing plan. Or maybe "manage your time". But the best tip I ever got was from my coach Hazel Palache, who repeatedly says “breathe!” At first you laugh - but then you see the wisdom. We so often get moving so fast - rushing to get ‘this’ task completed so we can move on to the next one, that we forget to pause, take that breath, regroup and refocus. It has been the most business enhancing advice I’ve received.
8. Never DO a Job for Money
The best advice I got was from Robert Kiyosaki who said in one of his books "Never Do A Job For Money. Do It For The Learning Experience."
This is something I have applied in my business life as well. You always do a job for the learning experience. What's better than getting paid to learn?
9. I'm Anxious Today-- Excellent!
When you have your own business, you will never have the "right" amount of work: there will always be too much or too little. Therefore, you will always be anxious.
The trick is to stop thinking of anxiety as a bad thing. Instead, say to yourself, "I'm anxious today- excellent! This means I'm alive."
Thinking of anxiety as one more form of energy-- fuel-- keeps you focused, committed, and excited about achieving your goals day-to-day.
10. There's No Such Thing...
At a time when I thought OPM (Other People's Money) was "the answer", I turned to my best friend (and to his business partners) to discuss an investment of $500,000. Among other things, my best friend told me "there's no such thing as a 'silent' partner" and if they invested they would require 51% of the company. We didn't go further and it's the best thing that ever happened to me in business because I found a way to grow without outside investors and NOW I still own 100% of my business!
11. Business Strategy
Keep adding prospects to your list, and work the list. Prospects will turn into clients or will refer additional prospects.
This is the basis of any successful business.
Thanks to: Norman Lacasse.
12. Learn to Say "No"
Entrepreneurs are always hungry to make money. Sometimes you will hear about a business project that just might not be in your "sweet spot" and be tempted to take on the work because, after all, it's a gig. As hard as it is to do, don't lose your focus and say "No" to those situations. Conversely, it's also important to say "no" to clients that will take advantage of new start-ups by asking for extra work. You want to please and get paid, but work beyond the project scope should be an extra.
13. Stay Focused: Stay in Business
My best business advice was from a business mentor who shared with me that I needed to establish my mission statement for what I wanted and stay focused to it.
The mission statement helps a business owner accomplish a mission and serves as a guideline as what direction to proceed. Ask yourself the question whenever anyone approaches you with an idea or new direction, will this help me achieve my mission? The answer becomes a clear, yes or no.
So stay focused and stay in business.
14. Willing Customers
The best business advice I ever received was from Dan Rao - former CEO of Chadwicks of Boston. Dan and I worked side-by-side for several years, and his insight was often like a laser beam. During one intense strategy session, our senior team was discussing all the 'ducks' that needed to be put in a row to for us to achieve success. After listening politely, Dan spoke one sentence: "To be successful, the single most important thing businesses need is 'willing' customers." Think about it...
15. Be Alert
Listen to your customers. They will tell you what they want and need. Don't try to sell them what you want them to buy. Sell them what they want to buy. It is much easier and much more profitable.
Mitch Carnell of SPWC
16. Let it Go as Soon as You Know
From personal experience, let go of things that don't work for you as soon as you know it will never work. For example, you take on a partner. You sense she isn't fulfilling their role. Meetings, coaching, and follow-ups on plans don't change things. You try as much as you humanly can, and a 90 day window of opportunity is enough. Entrepreneurs have a high tolerance for pain. Letting some pain linger too long ends with one rabbit trail after another too many. Let go before the trail cuts off.
17. Best Business Advice
This is easy. The best business advice I ever received is "Don't SELL to anyone! Instead, SUPPORT people in buying."
18. Pay Yourself First
Pay yourself first should be the rule. You must make enough money to reward yourself. Continue to pay yourself even when you can't pay the bills. You can "loan" the money back, at least you will know how much you had to "kick back" during any period of time. Great for forecasting and price setting.
Thanks to: Peter Zawistowski.
19. Just DON'T Do it!
"Figure out what you suck at.... and then hire someone to do that."
Small business owners are notorious for being the chief cook and bottle-washer. While wearing many hats is often essential, wearing EVERY hat can be fatal. We all know that we’re not perfect, but it can be tough to acknowledge our specific imperfections. It was liberating to realize that learning to isolate and then delegate is actually the key to success!
20. Own Your Unique Expression
Are you working in a line of business that truly represents what you feel you are here to do in the world? If not, we would suggest finding a way to gradually combine your unique interests and skills with your business. If you don't, happiness will be difficult to find. There is something specific that each of us is here to do. Enacting our unique purpose in the world is a greater source of fulfillment than simply making money for its own sake.
21. Get a Mentor!
Starting something new? Need to get better at some aspect of your business? Find someone who is successfully doing what you want to do and create a relationship with them. Don't hesitate to compensate them for their advice, time, or expertise... If you're asking for them to give you something of value, you should be willing to pay. Pay doesn't have to mean cash; it could be exchange of services. I learned this by reading Rich Dad Poor Dad - it was the best business advice I have ever received.
22. Take Time Out to Play!
Early in my career a mentor told me that play isn’t a luxury – it’s a necessity and is as important to our physical and mental health as getting enough sleep, eating well and exercising. And taking the time to replenish yourself through play is one of the best things you can do for your career. Here are just a few of the benefits:
•Refreshes your mind and body
•Helps you see problems in new ways
•Triggers creativity and innovation
•Increases energy and prevents burnout
23. Finding the Match
Figure out what you LOVE to do that solves a problem your ideal clients want to solve. Then communicate your offer in a clear, compelling way that invites your ideal clients to invest to benefit. Now. It seems so simple, but it is harder than it looks. When you get it right, more success with greater ease flows almost immediately.
24. Find your Passion
Find the one thing you enjoy the most in life and tailor your professional career to include that passion. Your customers will see it and ultimately your sales will reflect your passion as well.
Pay attention to the things you can control, not to the things you cannot control.
26. Best Advice
The best business advice I received is to spend time on the business and not just in the business.
27. Balance Growth and Coast.
Enthusiasm and optimism are necessary, but they need to be managed. I was taught to push hard to grow my business for a year or so, then coast a while to let the marketing work. You can cut your cost of advertising for a while and focus on current customer communication and building referrals. I found that I could afford to invest in another employee as the business grew. When the time is right, grow some more, but not too fast.
28. Barcode Bravery
In order to attract new business as an entrepreneur, it may be necessary to out price the competition. While this seems like a good idea in the beginning, it can lead to difficulty as you need to raise prices to a standard level in your market.
It's a good idea to consider an introductory offer or pricing as a limited time incentive then readjust your rates.
Understand your services, abilities and the unique way you work and be brave enough to let your barcode reflect it.
29. Results Matter Most!
"Focus on results. Everything else is smoke and mirrors." When it comes to developing long-term, profitable relationships with clients or customers, results matter and EXTRAORDINARY results matter more. You may attract clients with well-crafted marketing messages and your personal charisma, but if clients don't get the results they seek, they'll take their business elsewhere...FAST! It's really that simple. Results matter most. Everything else is truly "smoke and mirrors."
30. Make the Call!
Pick up the phone and call people EVERY day. You may be the world's best consultant, but if you aren't making the calls to get the sales, you won't be in business for long.
31. You Failed? GOOD JOB!
Take risks because it's okay to fail.
My dad, an entrepreneur himself, has told me this my entire life and it wasn't until a couple years ago, when I ventured out to make a documentary, that I realized how important this piece of advice really is. I try to keep it in the back of my mind every day.
32. Strong Reputation Required
Build a strong reputation for your company. People do business with people they like and they trust. In this age of social media - company leaders must be especially diligent about the care and feeding of their organization’s reputation. Strong and dynamic reputations are first and foremost built by being proactive with your communications, always being respectful and courteous and valuing everyone’s contributions to your company.
33. Pick Your Battles
A wonderful mentor gave me this advice. There are always more battles than time and energy - some you'll win, some you'll lose. Winning builds political capital, losing erodes it. And you only have so much political capital to spend. Therefore, it's essential to carefully weigh the risks and rewards, especially when it will mean going head to head with a colleague or boss. Common battles are for resources (budget, people), or for a certain stance that you deeply believe in. Make it count.
Thanks to: Anne C. Graham.
34. Pay Yourself First
Too many entrepreneurs pour everything into their business, including profits. However, you need to learn to pay yourself first! The reason you started a business was to make money. There are always a million things that need to get done. Fine, but take care of yourself first. You'll be amazed at the difference it will make in your outlook and your motivation.
35. Bottom Line Everything!
A wise business coach suggested I bottom-line all activities to determine the better ROI. His advice helped enormously. It led to my discontinuing many in-person networking events eliminating gas, bridge toll, parking, and event fees. Instead I do most networking online via social media - free of charge! Meeting like-minded and talented people around the world, and collaborating online, has increased my creativity, additional offerings and is bringing in an increased ROI!
36. Sure Things: Death and Taxes
Growing up, my parents used to always say that there were only two sure things in life - death and taxes. When I started my small business 13 years ago, my dad (also an entrepreneur) gave me my best piece of business advice: put away 30% of all earnings for taxes. If you don't owe 30%, you have money left over and if you do owe it you have it. I've always been thankful not to be sideways with the IRS and to usually have money left over in the bank.
37. Create an Advisory Board
The best business advice I received when starting my company - Loyalty Factor LLC - was to create an advisory board of senior-level individuals who believed in me, and the business model.
The board had to include marketing, sales and financial experts. I was surrounded by experts in all aspects of a business and had the support system to encourage and energize me to exceed my goals and objectives. Capitalize on other people's experiences and expertise to strengthen your own.
38. Create a Vision and Purpose
Get clear on what you want. Be selfish. Lay claim to your dreams. Write them down. Create a vision board. Whatever it takes for you to gain clarity about your vision and purpose. That makes it easier to say YES to those things that align with your desires and NO to those things that don’t. Every super successful and HAPPY person I know prioritizes what they want. It is the way you can best serve others, too.
39. Making and Keeping
It's not what you make, it's what you keep.
(From my Dad, a farmer and rancher from a small town in Texas).
40. No Risk No Reward
The best advice I have ever been given is that I will get nowhere in business if I do not take risks. You will find that people who are self-made millionaires are all risk takers. Business and life are all about taking risks, be it hiring that first salesperson or asking a person on a date. If you do not take risks in life, you will never achieve success. So, stop playing it safe and take some risks. You can't win if you don't risk losing.
41. Often Overlooked, Obvious Tip
My Dad is a great sales guy - one of the real rockstars of his business. While a lot of things have changed in the 40 or so years he's been around, many things haven't. One of those things is the best piece of advice I ever got:
"You have 2 ears and 1 mouth. Use proportionally".
And with that, I will shut up.
42. Stick Your Hand Up
The best advice that I received was at any meetings where a speaker hasn't turned up for the 10 minute slot "Stick Your Hand Up Then Engage Your Brain." How many chances do you get to sell yourself to captive colleagues? How much would it cost to get 30-300 plus bums on seats? Don't let the chance get away.
43. Set Your Own Goals
Establish your own definition of success and make sure every action you take on behalf of your company works to achieve that goal. Your goals may be based on growth, revenue, profits, time off, people helped, new ideas, etc. However, the key is to set goals that will motivate you to achieve them, and to not allow others to set your goals for you.
44. Do Something, Anything, TODAY!
My mentor told me when I started my independent career that I needed to work the first 365 days. He said that what I did today determined what I would be paid in six weeks. If I did nothing for a day then I should expect nothing at the end of six weeks. Not that I was looking for a daily paycheck, but... I understood that taking a day off equated to a day of being a secret agent and if No One knows you exist in sales then No One is going to pay you. Trust me, Mr. No One pays poor tips.
Early on in my business planning, my mentor said, "Good advice does not lead to success; following through with good advice leads to success."
46. Slow Down To Move Ahead
Coach and author Steve Chandler listened to how busy I was and told me that I needed to "slow down to move ahead." What he meant was that most of us are so busy we have no time to think, to see real opportunities and act on them. As soon as I did what he suggested, my business improved. Now, I'm sensitive to my own coaching clients when they're telling me how busy they are. "Slow down to move ahead," I tell them, and just making that suggestion get them to focus better on their businesses.
47. Best Business Advice I Got
"Do The Right Thing Next, And The Next Thing Right" That is something I created and live this. As a professional speaker, I teach this to associations and corporations who hire me. Short, sweet, and to the point. Readers need lean red meat, yet they need something that makes sense. If you do the next thing right (that is quality) and the right thing next (that is customer service) you will build a kingdom.
48. Keep Your Eyes on the Prize
Do whatever you can to keep yourself focused - a great tip I received to do this was to keep a journal as well as a date book. The journal can record successes along the way or positive thoughts, feedback, etc. you have received. The date book should be just for confirmed appointments and should include family time, self-care, follow up with clients, etc. When you have a brilliant idea - there's your journal! Great to review during the times we struggle!
49. The Competition
Be Your Competitors' Best Customer.
Bill Horton of BizFix
50. When Good Is Good Enough
A bank president once coached me that in business, when you are 70% sure of something, to go for it. Figuring out the other 30% leads to diminishing returns which jeopardizes the window of opportunity. In other words, you have to know when "good" is "good enough". This is especially good advice for the proverbial "perfectionist" or analytical type who may experience "paralysis from analysis".
51. Why Should I Network?
I remember the scene in the Godfather in which Vito Corleone is the well-connected figurehead of the Underworld. Not that I agree or partake with that type of profession, but I was impressed by the power he had and mostly through connections.
So why should I network? Often we have heard, “it’s not what you know, but who you know”. How many times have you seen certain people move up the ladder at companies or in business? Trust me, they are not doing it completely on their own.
52. See Through the Eyes of Others
When I was about seven or eight years old, my mom told me to stand in the shoes of the other person and "see the world through their eyes" before I made judgment about them. When you think about it, this is THE KEY TO SUCCESS in conceiving a product, starting a business, relating to customers and/or selling anything to anybody. Don't look at the world through the lens of your product or your idea. Look at your product or idea through the eyes of the people to whom you're selling it.
53. What Do You Love?
The best piece of advice I ever received about building my small business was from my father: "Do what you love; money will find you." With that in mind I founded a business based on my passion rather than on what I thought I would or could or should earn. My father was right! It has been incredibly easy to build my business since every day is a joy not a chore. The result? I have a meaningful job and my company helps survivors all over the world transition from post-traumatic stress.
54. Word$$ to Live By
The purpose of being in business is to put money in your checking account (as particularly distinct from being in business to be busy).
55. Organic Growth
Start small, stay cash-positive, and see where your sales take you.
I found a wonderful coarse natural linen with the hand-woven texture of my grandmother's linens in Scotland, and made it into bedding for myself (investment: $100). The photos were good so I put it on my website, got good press, then style guru http://remodelista.com/posts/fabrics-and-linens-rough-luxe-duvet-shams chose it. Now I have thousands in sales, and am gearing up for the next level with a substantial investment.
56. Respect Begets Respect
My father taught me two valuable business tactics. Never ask someone to do something you wouldn't do. And surround yourself with brilliant people and then let them do their job. If they have to be micro-managed they are not the right person for the job. Respect their abilities and they will respect you.
57. The True Art of Delegation
Learn the true art of delegation. Managers delegate a to-do list. Leaders share, inspire and excite their employees about the task ahead.
58. Mis-hire, Misfire!
Small businesses generally divide many responsibilities among only a few workers. This means that a bad employee can quickly hurt profitability, damage morale and even destroy the business.
Remember the old adage, "You can't judge a book by its cover?" The same is true for a job applicant. Be careful when hiring, and if you have a problem employee, get rid of him or her to minimize further damage--the business you save may be your own! So remember:
Hire slow, but fire fast.
Thanks to: Christopher Kimball.
59. Knowing is Not Enough
The best business advice I've ever received is "do something."
Many people are afraid to fail, so they do nothing.
Don't be afraid to fail. You fail only if you don't learn anything from the experience. Treat every failure as an opportunity to grow.
In other words, "do something." You'll gain momentum and be on your way to creating a successful business.
60. Go With Your Gut
Entrepreneurs must believe in their ability to make the best decision for every aspect of their business. There are smart people in every room and all of them will want to give you advice. But I learned that when I went with my gut I was able to execute my decisions and have more control of the outcome. As an entrepreneur your decisions are the basis for your success or failure. Own it and you will have learned from it.
61. Shut Up and Listen.
Rather than one mentor I have 3. I separately run by what I'm going through professionally. Each one does not know that I'm talking to the other. When I hear the same response coming from each of them in regard to business decisions I know I need to listen. "Monitor and adjust," says one mentor. I say get a mentor, shut up, and listen.
Mentors are successful and teachers at heart. They're retired or are disciplined enough to prioritize their time for important things. I say why not?
62. Woman on Top
The best business tip I ever received was simply to pay yourself first. As a novice entrepreneur, that one piece of advice flowed through everything that was right and wrong with how I was running my business. I still adhere to this mantra today – it keeps the emphasis where it needs to be, reminding me not to exhaust my resources, financial and otherwise. It ensures that I keep myself at the top of my priority list, and laser-focused on what’s most important to my business success.
63. Proactivity Reaps Rewards
Things you do today pay off tomorrow.
64. Put it in Writing!
It sounds so simple, but many small businesses operate without written agreements that state the terms, conditions, etc. It can be so exciting to "close" a deal and want to deliver immediately. First, make sure you have clearly outlined what's expected, on both sides, and adopt a philosophy of waiting to proceed until you have a signed document. We also take a percentage of the total fee in advance before we begin work. It's a business approach that can never do you wrong!
65. No More Business for 6 Months
Yikes! This is the advice an Indian Apostle gave me in the New Year of 2009. She said to join her for a 21 day fast and to spend the next 6 months praying (no more work!). I thought she had lost it with all that I had set up. This so happened to be the time when a close friend died with unfinished business that mattered: her family. Yet to the world she was at the top of her game. For some crazy reason I listened and the results have changed everything including my purpose in life!
Thanks to: Adelaide Zindler.
66. Get the Referrals Flowing
The best advice is to join BNI (Business Network International), a referral networking group that differs from other networking organizations. First, you apply for membership so BNI can assure high-caliber members. Second, to minimize competition, only one person per profession can join a chapter. Third, members attend weekly meetings to foster continuity. Finally, members meet one-to-one to learn about each business represented, build relationships and get referrals flowing easily.
67. The Power of Free
The more you focus on helping other people the better your business and your life becomes.
68. Listen to Good Advice
Be willing to accept advice from those who have already succeeded at what you're trying to do. This is especially beneficial if you can learn from their mistakes. Knowing what "not" to do is as important as knowing what to do.
69. How to Become a Billionaire
David Murdoch is a self-made billionaire who never made it through high school. He spoke these wise words as a speaker at The Anderson School of Management at U.C.L.A. to me 18 years ago and his advice still rings true today:
Most people make their "To Do" lists and do the items in the order of preference. I do my "To Do" list based on the order of importance. It's a simple as that.
70. Better on the Outside
When I left my position as the marketing director for an accounting firm to start my own marketing consulting company, one of the senior partners pulled me aside and told me, "Sometimes it's better to be an expert on the outside than an expert on the inside." And it's true. While my knowledge and expertise hasn't changed much since I started my company, the respect I receive has been exponentially higher. It reinforces that I made the right decision.
71. The Best Way to Manage People
Many years ago, a person whom I worked for told me that, "Management is a gentle pressure applied relentlessly." If you want to move your people in a direction, move them incrementally and consistently. Trying to change too much too fast just disorients people and runs them off; inconsistency means they don't change at all.
72. Shutting Up.
The best advice I ever received for business came from a sales manager at a Nissan auto franchise. Here's what it was; "When you ask a customer a question, shut up, and let them answer it, no matter how long it takes."
73. Follow the Money
I wanted to be an artist. My dad said, "Do anything you want, but learn business and accounting. Every business is about making money and you want to know where yours is."
I graduated with a BFA and a double major of art and business. I have been a successful artist for over 25 years and now own 3 businesses, Animatics & Storyboards, Inc, A&S Animation, Inc, and SellYourTvConceptNow.com.
I love what I do and I make money at it.
74. Don't Stop Before the Miracle
The best advice I received was to stay focused on my contribution, not to be seduced away by any one or any thing, but rather, to keep the end in mind and just go for it; to remember what business I was in, who my customer or potential customer is or will be, who I am in the matter, and to stay committed to the results and not stop before the miracle. This has helped both professionally and personally.
75. Think Small, Not Big
"The smaller the niche, the wider the opportunity."
My business partner Becky McCray and I talked about this at the SOBCon business conference in Chicago (she is the one who convinced me that it's true.) Our narrow focus on social media training for tourism does not limit us; the more we learn about and provide value to our specific market, the more our business grows.
We know exactly who our customer is and we aren't distracted by problems or opportunities that don't apply to what we do.
76. How Video Changed My Biz
The best advice ever given to me was to use video when possible to explain things to people on my website. It exploded my business when I started using videos on my web site in 2005. Not just any videos, but just plain, dry, corny clips of me explaining the topics of interest visitors came to check out. People hate to read when they can watch a quick video describe the product/service. Corny videos sell big time!
77. Don't Go into Debt
Start small, finance business expansion from existing sales and don't go into debt to go into business. 95% of all businesses fail the first year, primarily from being under-capitalized.
Keep your day job and build your business on the side until it demands you quit your day job.
78. Don't Forget Personality!
One of the best pieces of business advice I have ever received was to never forget to show your personality in your business. Everyone can see what's on paper but what they want to ultimately see is who is behind the brand or business. We live in a social world and now people want to know who they're dealing with when they buy something or feel like they know you in a way. So don't be afraid to show your personality and involve it in your business, it might be what sells it...
79. Smart Advice for Tough Times
"Hold a daily 5 minute company-wide sales meeting. Focus all employees
on the most important success factor: profitable revenues."
80. Almost Too Simple!
Some of the best advice I ever received came from my father in law, Frank Turpin, former vice president of Exxon, the Alaska Pipeline, and the Alaska Railroad:
• Surround yourself with talented people.
• Trust them to do what they said they would do.
• Have fun at work.
At first Frank's advice seemed overly simplistic. But as I applied it to our culture, I've found it's huge!
81. Choosing Customer Experience
The best business advice I received was from a mentor of mine when starting my eco-friendly, home air filter subscription business. He said, “Make the conscious choice to deliver a great experience with your company at every customer touchpoint.” It was that wisdom that drove me to evaluate (and re-evaluate) how operations, marketing, and our own executive leadership styles impact the way in which the world views our brand, our service, and ultimately our value in the marketplace.
82. The "Brand Bible" Biz Advice
You have to be consistent with your company's image or else it will confuse and reduce your customer base. We developed a Brand Bible that outlined everything from the fonts and colors we used to the kinds of brands and styles we wanted to emulate. When it comes to effective marketing, the brand is in the details. Don't underestimate the little things in your brand, such as the lighting in your office or the color of the carpet. It all matters!
83. Build a Business, Not a Job.
The best business tip I ever received was to build my business as a sellable product. That meant creating processes that reduced the variables that are inherent with people and employees instead of simply creating a job for myself. So it has made day to day life easier because I have created replicable processes and it's a great starting point for creating a long term vision for my business.
84. Reach, Teach and Send!
The difference between success and non-success is in an individual's ability to believe in themselves as their own element of change and the daily commitment of that individual with that knowledge of success to execute those changes. Remember, leaders lead and also make mistakes, so the element of change is profitable to a leader and their business.
85. Vague Yet So True
The best advice ever given to me was before I became an entrepreneur and it was:
"The bigger the risk, the greater the return".
So.. with that being said, who wouldn't go for it? Or anything else for that matter.
86. Making More Sales
The people who make the most sales are those who make the most sales calls.
87. Promote or Perish
Your business cannot flourish unless people know about it. The best piece of advice I was ever given was to promote my business five times a day, every day, even if it was something as simple as handing out my business card. Doing this gets you into the habit of thinking like a promoter, which is a hat you need to wear if you have a small business. Daily promotion trains your mind to look for opportunities to get your business in front of people.
88. Get Paid Up Front, Here's Why
Get paid in advance or at least half. People lie or for the ones who meant well, maybe something comes up to prevent them from paying. So many scammers! I've wasted years being led astray by con artists. Get references of people you are doing business with & google their phone number like this (ex.123-456-7890) and their address. Sorry to be so cynical but I have been burned so much! Losing credibility to family, friends and associates is worth more than gold and time is money!!
89. Do You Have a System?
Create a leverage S.Y.S.T.E.M. The acronym of system is to get you to Save Your Self Time, Energy and Money. I have created systems for just about everything I do. I write every step in a way that someone else could follow it and do it exactly the way I have. So when I go on vacation or I'm sick, I can give someone my notes and they can apply my system and get the job done.
90. Sales Come First.
Our first client instructed me to remember that I am a salesman first and whatever product I make, or service I provide, comes a close second.
Sales are the life blood of business.
91. Know When to Say No
Sometimes you have to tell the customer “no”. It’s always easy in the early stages of a company to have a client or a prospect push you outside of your core competency. As all early stage companies are searching for revenue it is often easy to try to accommodate a customer’s short needs for revenue. Sometimes saying “no” to the short term gain is often better for the long term relationship.
92. Refer to Your Competitors?
The best advice I ever got was to review my customer list once a year. Take the bottom 20% in terms of profitability and joy of working with them (usually a 100% correlation) and refer them to my competitors.
93. OUTSOURCE OUTSOURCE OUTSOURCE
When it comes to growing a successful business the old adage “If you want something done right you’ve got to do it yourself” needs to be killed and buried. It’s virtually impossible to do it all yourself anymore; let alone do it all right. Instead—especially if you can’t afford employees—you’ve got to outsource as much as possible. And don’t give up if you have a bad experience. Outsourcing is like dating, you’ve got to kiss a few frogs to find a prince.
94. Ideal Client Profile
Everyone is not your customer. Have an ideal client profile and watch who you naturally attract as your clients. Then market to them.
95. Be Just a Little Uncomfortable
Pitch your idea/product when it still feels a little uncomfortable. If you've perfected your message, you've waited too long to share it with someone. This advice saved me from pursuing some really bad ideas and got people on board to help me to clarify winning ideas early!
96. Best Business Tip
Sharing elements of wisdom to my audiences is an invaluable gift on my part. So when I was given this piece of advice when starting my company, Sprinklisms, Inc., it stuck with me and has helped to make my business successful. It was truly one of the best business tips I've received.
"Hire people who are smarter than you are." -Michael Dell
Jonathan Sprinkles, Connections Coach
97. The End is Always a Beginning
At the end of a ten-week program, I packed up and headed out of the building. I was stopped by the HR manager, who ran after me and gave me a much-deserved lecture about my lack of sales skills. "Your problem," he advised, "is that you have only excellence. But excellence is not enough. You need hype and you have none. If you want to succeed in business, you need equal amounts of both!"
From that day forward, I ended my programs with a meeting, at which I promoted other available programs.
98. Answer the Question, "Why?"
The best piece of business advice I've ever gotten is to constantly answer the question, "Why?"
Such a simple question, but often hard to answer and overlooked when working on a project, business, or promotion. You need to constantly ask yourself why you're doing it and why it's important to you and you need to constantly tell the people it's targeted at why they should care.
Simply do the next most important thing. Don't let the "tyranny of the immediate" distract you. What you don't get to today, simply place at the top of tomorrow's list, and stay focused.
Thanks to: Phyl Ferrin-Weeks.
100. Good Morale Rings the Register
Good morale rings the cash register. When you create an environment where employees and customers are happy, financial results will follow.
101. Hard Work Pays Off. Really.
"The best part of having your own business is you get to pick which part of the week to work your 80 hours.” It may sound glib, but it is the best advice I have ever received; I've shared it before and will share it again.
Expect to work hard. Very hard. After all, no one has more invested in the launch of your business than you. Granted, choosing "your 80 hours" is not a favorite website, a clever shortcut or a hidden source of funding. It is, however, the honest truth. Hard work pays off.
102. Sign Your Own Checks
"Sign your own checks" - it was advice from my Dad and gives you great intelligence on your business and on how and where your outgoing money is being spent.
103. Have a Strong Gut
The best tip I received was a few years back, when I was contemplating striking it out on my own. At the time, I was the single mother of a one-year-old, so the idea of "sink or swim" loomed VERY LARGE.
A successful entrepreneur/friend said to me:
"The most important element to becoming a successful entrepreneur? Ya gotta have a strong gut to weather the roller coaster of emotions and financial uncertainty inherent to starting out on your own. You have that? You are going to win."
104. Business Worthless?
What is your business worth? If you have done the very best job at being at the helm, knowing all the answers, being the key to your customers' happiness -- your business could be worth far less than you think. A business -- or anything, really -- is valued at what someone else will pay for it. If the business depends on a key player, and you can't sell yourself, what happens to the value of the business to a third party? Start today removing yourself from the role as the best employee.
105. Sweat the Little Things.
My grandfather was a craftsman and an artist. His business was to make things look good. He told me that if you don't sweat the little things, then the big picture will suck.
This bit of advice isn't simply about "paying attention to the details," but this is more about having the business discipline to be meticulous about the aesthetic, the functional and even the peripheral pieces that inevitably contribute to whole of the business.
The little things are what really matter.
106. Speak Up! Be Heard!
My boss gave me the best advice: "You don't have to convince anyone to change their mind. Just share your point of view. It's up to them whether they listen or not. So, speak up! Be heard! Don't be afraid - everyone is entitled to an opinion."
It worked for me at the bank, as I moved up the corporate ladder & it works for me today as I work with clients and generate new business. If clients / prospects like what they hear, they'll do business with me.
107. Free Mailing Supplies
If you're shipping priority mail (and who isn't), you can get free boxes and tape from your post office or online at https://shop.usps.com. Never buy packing tape again!
108. Go Big or Get a Job
Most small business owners set their sights too low. Starting with a large concrete goal changes the thought processes and opens the door to greater wealth. Start with a goal to increase sales by $1 million. With this goal and using the business accelerator found in Best Practices for High Performance Entrepreneurs several entrepreneurs have been honored on the Inc 5000. This same process is available for free through all SBDCs, thanks to a grant from a group of Sunbelt Business Brokers.
109. Best Place to Invest?
When I started my business I left my corporate job with a separation payout. They were downsizing. I visited my financial planner and asked how to best use that money- pay down my mortgage, invest in mutual funds or stocks? He first asked me to explain my new business which I had started part time two years earlier. His advice was to invest the money in my business because that would give me the best return over the next few years. I followed that advice. It was good advice.
110. Ask Yourself this Question...
A mentor once asked me when I was embroiled in conflict: "Is this the hill you want to die on?". That measure of the situation at hand has always stuck with me. This simple question has helped me in situations when it's difficult to remain rational and calm. It's a tool to determine if it's really necessary to unleash fury or just chill. Overreacting could potentially cause more damage than I would want to deal with later when a cooler head prevails, so it's wise to stop and ask those 9 words.
111. Go Forth and Speak!
When I kicked off my first business I was told public speaking was THE WAY to get clients. You stand in front of a captive audience of prospects and educate. No selling. No schmoozing. Just give insight on something they want to know about. It worked. Any time I wanted to pull in business, I’d start calling organizations whose members could use my services and schedule myself to bring donuts and talk at one of their meetings. I’d walk away with new business and referral sources.
112. Keep Your Eye on the Prize
The best advice I ever received during my entrepreneurial career was to recognize that my function was to make my company profitable. When asked the question, “Why are you in business?” I responded that I wanted to create great advertising. My mentor explained that I could do that working for someone else. To succeed as an entrepreneur, I had to focus on the financial health of the company, and let others be responsible for the product. That change in mindset led to success then and now.
113. Failure-There is No Such Thing
Failure doesn't exist, it is mistakes that you commit. Learn from them, leverage what you learned and move on in your path to success.
114. No Matter How Busy You Get....
"Keep your website relevant. Even though you own a small business that is not related to the tech industry, you have to keep your website up to date."
115. Best Advice I've Received
The best business advice I've ever received was when I was taking over as president of a small computer repair shop. The previous owner handed me a tub of Cool Whip and told me that everything I needed to know about running the business was written on the side of the tub.
He had taken a marker and circled the words "Keep cool. Do not freeze."
116. The Right Fruit is a Good Goal
The best advice I ever received? "It is better to own half a watermelon than a whole grape" My uncle gave me this advice about 15 years ago, and it changed my business life. While it made sense then, it is even more important today. You can be a control freak, and have a whole grape. Or, you can let go, share, partner, joint-venture, and give without hesitation, and you can have half a watermelon. It is a lot messier, but worth it!
117. Best Advice EVER!
The one best piece of advice I've ever received was to become a member of CEO Space.
I wish I had done so 30 years ago.
118. From the Unlikeliest Person
While discussing my needs for CD duplication with, well, my CD duplicator rep, the question was put to me, "Do you want 1000 or 2000 CDs?" I'm a Spanish Curriculum Author, and was hesitant to tie up so much capital in CDs. So, I went into typical small business "worry-mode," but he calmed my fears with one simple phrase: "You have to learn to crawl before you walk or run." I only bought 1000, and feel like my business is learning to walk now. If I had tried to run, I surely would have crashed.
119. Should does NOT Mean Will
Just because someone "should" do something does not mean they "will" do it. In marketing/sales this means that even though someone "should" purchase your product or service, it does not mean they "will". In the workplace it means that just because someone suffers from an action that they "should" stop doing does not mean they "will" stop. You cannot assume people "will" do what they "should". You have to move them from "should" to "will" or you must adjust, compensate, counteract or suffer.
120. Follow Your Heart
The best business advice I ever received can be applied to any area of your life.
It's simply to follow your heart. Some people would say follow your intuition, or go with your gut, & that would be almost the same. Following your heart allows you to form real relationships in business & that's what it's all about in today's world.
If you follow your heart, you're more than likely doing what's right for everyone (the client & you) & that will make for a very successful business.
121. Best Business Advice Received
I am a career management coach, and the best business advice I ever received is: NEVER STOP NETWORKING - THAT INCLUDES MEETING NEW PEOPLE, SPEAKING TO GROUPS, ATTENDING CONFERENCES, AND ALWAYS CARRYING BUSINESS CARDS. In my business, it is very often the key to success.
122. SELL THE BENEFIT!
Early on I learned that nobody ever did anything for anyone else, or bought your service, because it was good for you. They will do it if they feel that in some way it will benefit them. Whether I am consulting with an organization, rolling out a new policy to employees or coaching an individual working to re-invent her career, the key is to sell the benefit of whatever you're selling to the prospective buyer, user, or consumer. If they do not immediately see how it helps them, they'll move on.
123. Under-Promise; Over-Deliver!
I still treasure and keep top of mind the best advice I ever received when I was just starting my business: Always under-promise and over-deliver! Give them much more than they expect. Everyone else does the bare minimum. Always go above and beyond. You can never go wrong by being honest, straightforward, managing and then surpassing expectations. This way, you’ll delight and wow clients, build loyalty and create raving fans.
124. Plumber's Scale
The best tip for business advice I received was to never charge more per hour than the local plumber does for a house call. I still use that guideline when implementing our company's price increases for cost-of-living. My clients don't complain and I remain very competitive in my market. It works!
125. "Another Meeting?!"
For more effective meetings, have not only a start time, but an end time as well. It forces you to come up with a solution.
126. Sit in the Drivers Seat!
"You run your business, never let your business run you." Further elaboration is...don't be afraid to turn away business or say no if something doesn't fit in your scheduling, morals, or business philosophy ~ or if the person is a jerk.
127. Surrender to the Universe
Surrender your business to the Universe. The Law of Cause and Effect is at work all of the time. If you focus on what you want to create in your business and take appropriate action then naturally the Universe will serve you with opportunities that match your intentions.
Develop an intentional business and ask the Universe to support you in your creations. The Universe always knows a better way to solve problems and create opportunities. Do your part and the Universe will do the rest.
128. Profit by Planning Your Time
Even the most industrious business owner has only 24 hours in a day. How do you eat, sleep and make a profit? “Book” your days with project work first. Mark out hours in a calendar to show that certain time slots are taken. If a luncheon comes up, someone needs a favor, or a client wants to chat, schedule those activities around the hours already reserved for billable work. By taking control over every hour, your days will be much more “productive” and less “busy".
129. It's Always a "Pilot"
Unless your business is standing still - all businesses go through change. When making changes - especially large ones - tell everyone that the new way is a "pilot" first. This helps get buy-in from potential resistors to the change. It also allows you to test the new way of doing things and if there are problems - you'll be able to fix them gracefully!
130. Stop Thinking
Business leaders are always thinking. Naturally, running any business, large or small, means constant thinking. Whole weekends are spent working out problems. Yet, the best business advice I've ever received came from famed lecturer Candace Silvers (daughter of TV legend, Phil Silvers). She says "STOP THINKING." Give your mind a rest. Look at what is right in front of you. Take a real break from the heavy lifting thoughts to release mind stress. You'll get fresh energy and a better life.
131. Just Ask!
When my husband died, I asked other widows how they handled going from being a wife to being a widow. Their stories became my book but it wouldn't have happened if I hadn't had the courage to ask them to share with me. Then I had to ask for help in doing a book proposal, publishing and marketing. It all came down to the one thing - Just Ask!
Check out the book "The Aladdin Factor" by Jack Canfield. Learn to ask for what you want and need. People love to help but you have to ask.
132. Look in the Mirror
Your business is a reflection of you! If it is disorganized, chaotic and struggling, look at your life. Put your life in impeccable order and see possibilities open up.
133. Act Quickly
During my twenty plus years in business I received lots of advice. The greatest I received was to act quickly and avoid procrastination. We have many ideas, but if we do not move quickly to implement them, momentum is lost. Sometimes it is gone forever. Successful business owners know the value of movement. Studies show that only a small percentage of individuals follow through on new ideas, concepts or skills learned. How much more we would achieve if we just acted quickly.
Thanks to: Heather Fraser.
134. Stay Dispassionate
Tip: Nothing is as good or as bad as it seems at first.
I received this tip from a friend. One of the most important things in managing a business is maintaining your equanimity, not over-reacting to situations (positive or negative). Many times we faced critical problems like key contractors leaving at crucial moments in product development, issues that could have sunk us if we didn’t manage it properly. But by maintaining an unemotional approach, we turned the problems to our advantage.
135. Plan for it in "Pre"
“The best way to fix it in POST is to plan for it in PRE.” The speaker was talking about TV post-production, but I’m reminded of his words daily. Whether making an important phone call, ordering business cards, or publishing a book, good advance planning and preparation save time, money and stress. Being prepared before picking up the phone advances the action, rather than having to say, “I’ll get back to you.” Careful proofreading lets you find errors before it’s too late.
136. Keeping your Eyes on the Prize
Keep it simple, do what you're good at, and don't try to be all things to all people, otherwise you'll lose focus.
137. Volume isn't Always the Answer
If you're selling hamburgers for 50 cents each and they cost you $1.00 to make, you don't want volume!
138. How to Succeed in Any Business
Always think 'Long Term', not just next month, not just next year, but 5 years, 10 years, 15 or even 20 years hence. And, never forget, 'See every obstacle as an opportunity to do good'. Finally and with thanks to President Kennedy 'It's not what your customer can do for you, it's what you can do for your customer'.
139. Hire Another You
Hire administrative help right away in starting your business. All businesses have administrative details that can consume your time, taking away from marketing, sales and customer service – all the things that make money. There are many very affordable virtual assistant services out there. It is well worth the extra cost upfront. I wish I would have followed this advice eight years earlier.
Leslie Kuban of FranNet
140. Strategy with the Numbers
Review P & L, bal. sheet & cash flow statements regularly for each division. Ask strategic questions: Hiring (will this position be justified by additional profit?), product introductions (is this division profitable enough to absorb marketing and sales costs, etc.?), determination of margin (are we charging enough to make a profit?), where to spend marketing dollars (which product or division is most profitable?), and many other important decisions. All small businesses should do this; few do.
141. Staying Steady
Understanding that business has cycles was one of the best pieces of advice I ever got. When things are great, decide how to best utilize the profits (for you, your employees, for re-investment, and for reserves). Many entrepreneurs believed that the boom a few years ago would not end -- what a surprise they had!
When the cycle goes downward, that is the time for creativity, extraordinary customer service, collaboration, and opportunism. That is what is needed now! And never worry!
142. First Things First
A few months after I started my financial planning practice a mentor gave me some valuable advice. He said that the key to being successful in business is to do the things that unsuccessful people don't do. For financial planners, it makes no difference how good you are if you don't have anyone to share your knowledge with. So that meant making sure that no matter what happens, all my prospecting for the week gets done. Unsuccessful advisors let other things get in the way of that.
143. Taking the Big Leap
One of the best pieces of advice I received was actually from Carol herself. I recently heard her speak at EVO 10, where she explained that sometimes you have to take two steps back to take a big leap forward. As an entrepreneur working to effectively scale my business, that really resonated!
144. Einstein...Still Kicking
The best advice I think I've received as an entrepreneur comes from a well-known (albeit somewhat unlikely) source: Albert Einstein.
"Try not to become a man of success, but rather to become a man of value. He is considered successful in our day who gets more out of life than he puts in. But a man of value will give more than he receives."
Add value to your customers' lives and exceed their expectations. They'll become repeat customers (and bring their friends.) Who doesn't want repeat biz?
145. The Masses Rule
The best business advice I ever received was from my first Angel Investor. He told me to "Sell to the Masses and Live with the Classes." I fought him on this, using such arguments like “...I'll bet the owner of Ferrari is doing all right." But I've never forgotten this advice and use it today more than ever with the growth of the internet.
There's nothing wrong with the big sale. But true sustainable growth comes from the small, residual sales and often these are the least sexy!
146. Design is Worth Every Penny
The best tip I ever received was to hire a designer to do my website for me instead of doing it myself. It took a while to find the right person to help me share my vision, but it was definitely worth the wait. The collaboration made my brand so much stronger because my designer was able to communicate things about my business that I wouldn't have been able to do myself. It was worth every penny.
147. Customers First!
Until you have a customer, you don't have a business. Don't fret about a business license, incorporation, or marketing, and don't spend too much time (or certainly money) on a business plan. The one thing that matters: find and delight a customer.
That one delighted customer will promote your product or service, resulting in more customers, and more effectively, launching your success as an entrepreneur, than anything else.
148. Know When to Walk Away
I had the opportunity to represent a self-made millionaire for several years and learned what I felt was the key to his success. Regardless of the time or money he had invested in investigating a business venture, if it could not be done the way he wanted, he would walk away. While this strategy may have cost him some successes, it saved him far more often from disaster. The one time he did enter into a deal against advice, and against his own better judgment, it turned into a nightmare.
149. Be Prudent as an Entrepreneur
Do not put your entire life saving into your idea. What happens years later if you have only had modest success and a small company from your huge dream? It’s not as easy as you think.
150. Let your talent SHINE!
'Marketing is more important than the Mastery' - meaning that if people do not know how fabulous you are then your company will not be able to grow as quickly as it can, so market your services and share with everyone your talent, letting it shine, shine, shine.
151. Do It Your Way
The best business advice I ever received was when I was just out of college. I was in retail and wanted to re-do a display a certain way. The “older” employees told me it had never been done before.
My manager, however, said, “Just because something has never been done before is the best reason I know for doing it.” I’ve never forgotten those words of wisdom, and they have guided me in my over 30 year professional career. (I haven’t been in retail for 20 years.)
152. Value Matters, Not Time!
My business mentor, Alan Weiss, taught me to base my consulting and coaching fees on the value produced for my client, not the number of hours clocked. I never discount my fees as it makes me less credible to my clients. If a client asks me to lower my proposed fee, my response is, "I can do that. What part of the services I'm offering would you like me to take out?" which keeps the focus on the value I'm providing. That way I can negotiate if I must but not devalue the true worth of my work.
153. Less is More
I have applied this test to just about everything for many years - "Less is More & Pigs Choke". For example, is pricing too high (Pigs Choke) or should it be less (Less is More) creating more sales opportunities for a product. Where is the sweet spot relative to "Choking" & "More"? In regards to salaries, is an employee asking for too much (Pigs Choke) or can an application of Less is More create an incentive in the big picture? Other areas that can be tested include Inventory, P.O.P. & Margins.
Howard Kopelson of EZ Dupe
154. Create a Mastermind Group
A wise man once said, "Your success is defined by the expectations of your peer group." Soon after my business launch, a wise woman told me to join or create a mastermind group.
An effective mastermind group gives you unfiltered feedback, shares their business wisdom, and holds you accountable for your actions. Thanks to this great business advice, I have just celebrated my eighth year in business.
Don't fall prey to isolation. Join a group now and energize your business!
155. Two Ears, One Mouth
You have two ears and one mouth. Use them accordingly i.e., listen twice as much as you talk. This applies to almost all business situations like sales, service, etc.
Thanks to: Martha O'Hayer.
156. Customer Experience is Key
Focus on customer-connectedness. Products and services are often interchangeable. What can truly set your company apart is a commitment to the customer experience. How can you find out what kind of experience you're creating? Personally reach out to a sample of your customers (not through a form survey). Ask them how you're doing, what you could do better, and if they'd recommend you (and why or why not). Then, respond and adapt to their input. Keep repeating this process.
157. Focus on Profits, Not Sales
Sales is vanity; profits is sanity. Don't worry too much about how many clients you have or how much you sold; instead, focus on how to maximize your profits. I'd rather have one big client than ten small ones.
158. Hey, It's Not April Anymore!!
At a Guerilla Marketing seminar, I learned to create great visibility for my business. One which I continue to use: changing my outgoing voicemail message DAILY.
How often do we call on companies, only to hear the same drab recording over and over? Or worse: "Thank you for calling, today is...", only to realize that was 2 seasons ago?
If you sound like you CARE about your company, it increases the odds that others will care too.
30 seconds of your time could create a customer for life!
159. Break Even Means Losing Money
Always make a profit even if it's just a little; there is no such thing as breaking even. It's easy to believe or settle for "just break even" but that thinking is the fastest way to broke... there is no such thing as breaking even.
160. Your Overhead Can Kill You
My dad, who started his business in 1960, always said "Your overhead can kill you." Use what you have & only buy what you need. When first starting out, work out of your home, use a kitchen table not buy a desk, cardboard boxes not file cabinets, the cheapest computer for your needs, & have your kids help you! My sister & I cleaned wheelchairs, mailed invoices, alphabetized files, did labels, and anything else. We were ages 5 and 4. We had low overhead at home too.
161. Walk Then Run
What's the opposite of procrastination... How about a whirl wind? A lot has been written about procrastination. But if you are a person who puts too much on your plate, it's just as debilitating. I was trying to run a business, run a ranch with training and lessons, open and run a non-profit, I was married, and I still had one child at home. I was frustrated that I couldn't make it all happen. Then I was told by a very wealthy man, Charisse, you got to walk before you can run. He was right!
162. Happy Staff = Happy Customers
Your staff is happiest when: They know you're leading them somewhere (share your vision & goals), they know exactly what is expected of them (make sure they are properly trained & informed, then make them accountable-follow up), they are being appreciated when they do what is expected, & they know you care about them, not just the business (know something each cares about personally & ask about it). When the staff feels good, they do good; then customers feel good & want to come back, bottom line.
163. Endeavor to Persevere
I was told to persevere in all area of business no matter what. These areas include: Education- never stop going for training and see insights in everything you do, everywhere you go & everyone you meet. Customer Care- give them the best all the time. Quality Product/Service- no shortcuts, only top of the line. Keep a positive attitude no matter what every day. Your Team- keep the best: get rid of 'slackers' or 'poor fits'. Persevere to compliment your Team Members always. Persevere until you succeed.
So, what’s the best advice I ever received? I will share that in an upcoming blog post. In the meantime, a hearty thanks to all of the contributors, who like me, give it to you straight!