According to the statistics from the Small Business Administration only 1 out of 3 new businesses will survive until the 10 year mark. While those statistics may be daunting and, if you are considering starting your own business, rather depressing, there are certainly plenty of small businesses that do succeed and entrepreneurs who have done what it takes to make it past 10 years.
If you’re keen on making it as an entrepreneur today’s blog should be very helpful as we’ve taken tips that successful entrepreneurs have given us over the years and put them together here for you to read, use and be inspired by. Enjoy.
While you may have heard this first one already, it begs repeating. Simply put, in order to succeed you must love what you do. Lisa King is the CEO of Brownie Points, Inc., a company that sells gourmet brownies as well as beautiful gift baskets for the holidays. Ms. King realizes that the road to success is a hard one but she also believes that it’s much easier if what you’re doing is something that you are very passionate about. “If you don’t [love what you do], it’s hard to be successful,” she says. Ms. King also adds that staying positive is vital to the success of any business. “You need to maintain your optimism. Once it’s gone, you’re done.”
Our second tip comes from Mike Mondello, president of SeaBear, a company that supplies fresh as well as smoked wild salmon directly to their customers. His advice: build a team of people around you that share your vision. For Mr. Mondello it’s more than just hiring experienced people but rather to hire people who feel exactly the same way about you do as far as the product or service that you’re going to be producing. For example, when bringing to life his vision of a world class seafood brand that was sustainable, his team meetings revolved around fisherman who had developed a better way to catch salmon that actually delivered an end product superior to other salmon products.
Robin Brocklesby of Creative Coverings, a company that caters to formal events with specialized linens, has this bit of advice: solve problems with innovative solutions. Ms. Brocklesby certainly takes her own advice and, when customers were having trouble returning linens that they had rented back to her company, she had specially designed bags created that replaced the boxes she was using as well as having a 300 use lifespan. Not only did she solve her problem but she also lowered her operating costs.
Creating a truly delightful customer experience is another tip from Mike Mondello of SeaBear. As Mr. Mondello will tell you, in order to win customers over, there are several components that need to come together and usually these components are handled by different people in the organization. “It’s mission critical that everyone on our team understands how they fit into the brand and what they bring to the value chain that delivers a successful customer experience,” Mondello says. Ms. King from Brownie Points adds that partnering with outside vendors and other companies that share your vision and want to keep customers extremely happy is also vital.
When SeaBear outsourced its call center a few years back during the holidays, they quickly found that their orders were riddled with errors. That’s why Mike suggested that, as an entrepreneur, you need to quickly learn from your mistakes. As soon as he realized what was happening, Mike and his team stopped outsourcing and personally contacted every customer that was affected by the poor customer service, something that really impressed many of their customers and kept them coming back. Another thing that they realized is that testing new processes should always be done when new orders are lower and never during a busy period like the holiday season.
Ms. King from Brownie Points suggests that new entrepreneurs rely on people smarter than they are. “Surround yourself with people who know more than you do,” King advises. “I was a schoolteacher [prior to going into business] and there were a lot of things I had to learn,” she recalls. Luckily she realized right away that she needed to hire people had the knowledge and/or skills that she lacked and rely on them for that knowledge and skill.
Lastly there is the advice from Larry Sweet, founder of Save-A-Load Inc. That advice; never sacrifice on quality. Sweet’s company makes load bars that truckers and delivery companies can use in their cargo areas to hold their cargo in place while it’s being transported. His company stands behind their product and provides a lifetime warranty to all customers, something that has helped them to see double-digit growth since being founded in 1993.
As an entrepreneur all of these tips are extremely valuable and should always be at the forefront of anything and any business that you’re going to start. All of these entrepreneurs used them to build successful companies that have gone well past the 10 year mark and look to keep going well into the future.