20 More Lessons Learned From Being In Business 16 Years
This is the second part of lessons learned from being in business for 16 years, you can read part one and the first 16 lessons I learned here.
We are told constantly throughout our lives we learn by our mistakes. This has certainly been true for me and running businesses for 16 years has taught me a lot, not just about business but about the art of negotiation, what makes people tick, how to communicate with people for a win-win, human psychology and behaviour, how to keep customers returning to your business and many more lessons that will serve me throughout the rest of my life.
Here are more hints and tips for starting and staying in business over a long period of time.
20 More Lessons Learned From Being In Business 16 Years
1. You have to know your WHY
Knowing your why is a theory that has been kicking around for decades so this is not a new revelation you are reading here! What amuses me is that very few people stop to think WHY they want what they want and do what they do. When you know WHY the whole ball game can change.
Your why will drive you, will guide you, will help you make the correct decisions in life so you can win the end game.
Your why should be just that YOURS! Not anybody else’s, that won’t drive you, that won’t have you bounding out of bed in the mornings but knowing your why for life, business or your career WILL!
If you are in business then you MUST have a vision and mission statements too. Recently I have been mentoring a friend who has paid to have a business coach for the past 12months or so, one of the first questions I asked her was WHY she was doing what she was doing and what was her vision and mission statements? She didn’t have her statements written out even tho she’s been paying a business coach!
Once you have a vision and mission statement then you can map out the next weeks, months and years. You can have a game plan to follow. Just as any sporting coach will tell you they always have a game plan to overcome their opponents, score the points so they can win the game. Business and life are no different when you make a plan you design your life if you don’t then you’ll play in someone else’s game and they will win the prize!
I have spent thousands of dollars training teams. If you are in any type of service industry then training is a must. As you may tell training is a passion of mine and it fascinates me why businesses don’t provide the very best training for their teams.
A team’s performance and level of service are a reflection of the training they have received. Poor service = poor training. Excellent service = excellent training. Excellent service is not only a joy to receive it’s also a joy to see in action. When an exchange of excellent service takes place two people win the receiver or the customer and also the one who serves or the giver.
Plus…When a customer is happy they will tell the world when they are not they’ll tell the universe!
4. When you give
Business owners win when they train their team members. They win in terms of productivity, unity of a team, loyalty, efficiency which all lead to growth in revenue and profits in a business. Training also boosts confidence in people and equips them for more in life for their future. Not only do they pick up a paycheck every week they pick up new skills too so they are being PAID to learn!
When I knew I was selling my businesses I helped the two most promising and loyal team members gain a diploma of business so after I’d long gone hopefully they could go onto to bigger and better things for their lives too.
4. Money isn’t everything
When I first started in business I wanted to be rich, rich in money and wanted millions in the bank! Not that I would have succeeded (and I didn’t with that one!) as I could spend as quickly as it came in.
My values changed along the way and I viewed money in a different light.
5. Objects aren’t either
I thought if I had more money I could buy a bigger house and that would make me happy. I could buy shoes, handbags and clothes and they would make me happy
6. Cars aren’t either
Or…a car, yes if I could get rid of my little hatchback and have a BRAND NEW car, that would make me happy! As I sit here writing this I recall a cringe-worthy statement I made to a girlfriend “When you see me driving into your driveway in a (the car of the moment) you know I’ve made it!!”
Made it, made what?
7. Experiences and moments are…
Through my values changing, I realised it was the moments and experiences in life that were most important to me. The moments when the team rallied and still came to work during the floods even though I advised them that I didn’t know if I could pay them. The moments when they completed their training, the moments when customers called or wrote saying how much they loved the service they received. That’s what it’s about!
And yes when money is used correctly it can buy experiences and moments, I could travel more and that would make me happy (and it did!!!)
8. When you make decisions for the wrong reasons they never work out
When ego’s get in the way and make decisions on your behalf they never work out! This came in a very hard lesson for me, wanting to be superwoman and #1 for the accolades for the “I’ll show em” mentality. That doesn’t work (of course!) and I learnt the hard way of a business failure that cost me a lot of money. More lessons Learned From Being In Business!
9. You must have an online presence
When I make this statement people (that don’t have an online presence) say “Oh yes, it’s the way of the future!” Ahem! Yes, it was about 15 years ago!!! But you are living your future NOW! NOW is the time and now is your future, you need a presence and by that I mean a website or blog and, at least, two social media accounts, no matter what your industry!
That’s how people check you out! Back in the day, it would be with an in-store visit or phone call. Now, people want to do that in the moment on their phones when they are out and about or chatting over coffee with a friend.
Please have something to show them, it’s vital for your business. Yes, I am speaking from experience and due to contractual constraints, they was very little I could do about this with the company I was involved with. Considerable revenue and market traction were lost due to their inaction.
10. Websites shouldn’t cost you thousands of dollars
Get SOMETHING up online that shows the value you add to a customer. Don’t just show them your product or service, show them what it can DO for them and the value you supply. Exotic web designers are not needed for this, you can outsource your own designers and web developers via Upwork, Fiverr and other resourceful sites.
11. You need to continually solve your customers problems
With an online or offline presence, you will be in constant contact with your customers. Smart business owners LISTEN to what their customers want then design something that is useful to them and provides value. That is constantly changing and you will know when that happens if you listen!
12. Get a business coach
I’ve never had a problem hiring a coach, paying them for their information that can help me succeed either in business or in life. It’s an INVESTMENT!! I’m always puzzled when people are struggling and still they don’t hire a coach. We can’t know EVERYTHING although I’m sure, like me you know a few people who THINK they do, but the truth is we don’t!
When the floods wiped out my business and the whole town was struggling to get back on its feet the council provided a free workshop. From that workshop, I hired that coach for the next 18 months and together we kicked some awesome goals for the business. More lessons learned from being in business
13. Business is 80% marketing
Took me a while to learn this! As a first-time business owner, I was doing EVERYTHING myself. The book work, serving customers, ordering, training and making sure there was always enough in the till to make all of that happen. That took 80% of my time.
Once I spent 80% of my time on marketing is when turnover grew and the business gained momentum. There is a fine line to walk as you have to do everything initially as you have to learn about business, however, I encourage you as soon as possible spend more of your time on marketing than anything else in your business and you will have runs on the board sooner.
14. Lawyers are necessary
Because we have laws. Sometimes stupid laws that don’t make sense so we need to hire a lawyer for their knowledge and advice. Always remember they work for YOU. They take instructions from YOU and if you don’t take charge they will and it shows when you open the envelope containing their account.
15. Lawyers are a pain in the arse
Yes, they are! Especially the ones on the “other side.” Sometimes they behave like an untrained pit bull as to them it’s just a game…sometimes at your expense! Yes, that’s what a lawyer has said to me…a game, really? Yep, a game one that you and I pay for if we don’t control the rules, hence the advice above about instructing them!
16. Banks are necessary
We need them, especially if we are borrowing money to open a business, plus we also need a merchant account and account to park all those thousands of dollars that come rolling in and they are also a pain in the arse because…
17. They have ridiculous fees just because it is a business account
For the privilege of holding a “savings” or checking business account, you’ll pay more bank fees than a personal account, no point fighting it, it’s just the way it is. You are better off channeling that energy into more sales to pay for the said fees!
18. You can have fees cancelled if you ask
Only certain fees, though. I had to return my credit card terminal to the bank after being a customer of 7 years with this particular bank. They’d already made a handsome profit from the fees and charges over that time. I considered that a fair exchange, what I didn’t consider fair was the $150 per terminal to “wipe my information” from the machine.
No they couldn’t leave it on I was informed and after I kicked up a bit of a stink they waived the $300 no further questions asked.
19. You can always negotiate a better deal, but you have to ask
No supplier will automatically shave some money off their price. The bank wasn’t about to say “it’s normally $300, however, today, just for you, there is no charge!” You HAVE to ask! The more you ask the more you will receive, I talked about the magic formula to get suppliers on-side here. Do this and you’ll get their BEST price every time!
20. When your passion starts to wane it’s time to get out
There is no set time frame for this as everyone is different. Looking back (as hindsight is a wonderful thing) for me that was between 5-8 years after I started. ALTHOUGH what building and running a successful business DID do for me was bought me freedom. Freedom to learn something new. To write a book and become an author. To learn about online business, websites, copy writing, social media and many other skills, all the while my business ticked along because they had been set up correctly initially with systems.
I didn’t have to be there every day of every week, in fact, I rarely spent 8 hours per week at the stores for the last 4 or 5 years of having the businesses.
It’s never too late to learn a new industry, start a business or follow a dream, what are you waiting for, if I can do it so can you?!!
No doubt there will be more lessons learned from being in business that I’ll remember as time ticks along and life evolves, that’s one thing we all know about life it keeps on moving!