Starting a business can make even the most courageous person weak in the knees. Half of the time you have no idea if you’re headed in the right direction. The other half you feel like you’re on track and just hoping that you don’t make a mistake.
If you’re an entrepreneur who is in the beginning stages of starting your own business, these five experienced company founders and owners have a little bit of advice for you. Specifically, it is advice that has helped them become more successful in business, hopefully offering the same benefit to you.
Clarify Your Vision, And Go For It
From Carlos Castelán, Managing Director of The Navio Group, a company that assists retail leaders with transforming their businesses
My advice to those who want to be a startup business entrepreneur: make sure, right from the start, you have set a vision for where you want to head and goals to help you get there.
By taking the time upfront to chart a course for yourself, staying focused on impactful activities becomes easier and saying no to distractions becomes a habit. Ensure that your vision and goals make it into every white boarding session because, if they do, you and your team avoid wasting energy chasing thing that do not matter.
Finally, don’t be afraid to take a risk and pursue something you’ve always wanted to do. What separates successful entrepreneurs from so many others is the ability to take risks and be comfortable making mistakes. Things don’t often work the first time but if you’re committed to what you pursue, and are willing to listen and learn, the path of entrepreneurship can be rewarding.”
Become an Expert in Project Management…and Project Budgets
From Joshua Brown, Founder of Renovation Collective Toronto based out of Toronto, Ontario, a company that offers interior and exterior renovation services, as well as handyman work including drywall installation and repair, painting, fixture installation, and more
The biggest piece of advice I can share is actually quite recent and from a learning lesson I experienced due to the pandemic: understand your margins, intimately, and become an expert at Project Management.
Prior to COVID-19, we were still in our growth stage and we wanted to secure business when it presented itself. Similarly, we had a lot of operational flexibility and could send in our team to quickly complete jobs as we would work in tandem among other trades we subcontracted for jobs.
However, once COVID appeared, our eagerness to march forward was not feasible as we were being sidelined on projects taking several more weeks than usual. This was primarily because of everyone’s unique restrictions in their sectors, social distancing requirements, and supplier delays.
In response, he had to perform a crash course in Project Management, since we’re now staggering our specialty trades on-site in a very regimented manner. While this gap was exasperated because of the pandemic, I see it paying off for us for years to come and our company will be stronger because of it!
Concurrently, you also need to understand your profit margins on all types of projects you perform. Identify which projects provide the most lucrative profit margins and which produce the least. From there, you can establish a priority list for your in-house strategy with an end goal of booking as many of those high-profit jobs as possible and reducing those that are too lean.
If you can schedule and prioritize jobs with purposeful oversight you can feel the pulse of your business much more easily, which helps in all areas of operations.”
Trust Your Team
From Stewart J. Guss, Founder of Stewart J. Guss, Injury Accident Lawyers in Houston, Texas
My best advice is to not be married to an idea solely because it’s your own or you think because you’re the boss that your ideas surpass those of those team members you’ve hired. I always like to remind myself, ‘You trusted yourself enough to hire them, make sure you trust yourself to listen to them and take their suggestions and input seriously.’
Many of the best innovations at my law firm have come from employees at all levels of the organization, whether entry-level who was able to convey a gap up their pipeline or by a leader who saw improvement opportunities downstream.
Keep an open mind and be accepting to try new suggestions by others as you’ll likely be surprised at the outcome, and you will build loyalty and confidence among your team!”
Copy, Master, Then Tweak
From Mike Stewart, Founder of Vancouver New Condos in Vancouver, B.C.
My best advice is to watch and learn from the best in your market. Whether you’re a lawyer, realtor, sales professional, or somewhere in between, I recommend you mimic the dress, business practices, and even the speaking patterns that the top producers in your area use to be successful.
In most industries, there isn’t a need to reinvent the wheel when you first start your career. Instead, see what the best do, copy it, master it, and then tweak it to best fit your personality and preferences, which is where you’ll stand out in time.
So often, people want to be unique before they’re experts and I advise becoming an expert first and then fine-tuning your brand to highlight your uniqueness. You’ll spin your wheels less and can focus on revenue when you need it most!”
Decide How Your Business Will Run Without You
From Mac Fadra, CEO of MAXIM Hair Restoration, a company offering both surgical and non-surgical hair loss solutions
My biggest piece of advice to new entrepreneurs is to create a business succession plan. Normally, one would consider a succession plan in the event of disability, burn-out, or retirement, but COVID-19 showed us another reason: extended leave due to a pandemic or illness.
It’s my understanding that a lot of smaller businesses hadn’t planned for succession or factored their leadership being removed during COVID, and many brands felt that loss, even if only temporarily. So many business owners are hyper-focused on growth goals and managing so many elements of their business that they don’t consider what would happen to their years-long efforts if they were removed from leadership.
This is particularly important if you employ many team members and/or have a lot of assets. As an example, we have physical locations in 15 markets in four countries and employ many at each location. So, if I were removed from day-to-day operations without clear and concise instructions for my second in command, many employees would be at risk for their livelihood. That doesn’t even factor into the equation all the patients (or customers) that would have to make new plans too.
This doesn’t mean you have to be far removed as you could take a more strategic role such as Chairman or Board Member or even your existing role. But you need a back-up and a clear plan expressing that decision/s. I recommend either assessing highly-qualified and immediate family members to train or, if that’s not an option, then look within the ranks for someone younger with great potential who has already performed at a certain level.”