Two weeks ago, I started a new series entitled The ABC’s of Business. It’s a series where I break down some tips and tricks I’ve learned over the years as the CEO of a tech startup. Today’s post is the final of this series. If you missed part 1, click here. Need to read part 2? Check it out here.
Q- Quiet – How can you learn if you’re busy being loud and expressing your opinions to anyone who’ll listen. The only time I’ve ever “learned” is when I took the time to ‘shut up’ and hear from someone who was speaking based on experience. In business, you need to always be listening – to customers, to advisors, to investors, and to your team members. When you do talk, concentrate on making it effective. Responsible, effective listening is a rare skill that will give you a sustainable competitive advantage over your peers and your competitors. It’s also a skill that can be developed with practice. You can never know enough in business, so even top entrepreneurs find time to be quiet and just listen.
R- Rest – Every now and again, get away from the hustle and bustle of your business. If you operate out of your home, give yourself permission to get away. As a business owner, your mind is likely running a mile a minute, 24/7. If you’re entrepreneurial, and my guess is you are, you need to turn it off in order to get back into brilliant mode. Avoid burnout by granting yourself some serious ‘you’ time.
S- Structure – Sitting down, first thing in the morning, and writing out your goals for the day can be a work-altering experience. Define your day and prep yourself for an absolute ‘winning’ mentality – it could look something like this:
8-9am – prep for prospecting calls
9am-11am – attack: make 30 calls
11am-12pm – prep for follow-ups
12pm-1pm – re-group (whatever that looks like – going to the gym, having lunch away from the office…)
1pm-3pm – organize and prepare for tomorrow
3-4pm – attack, yet again: make some follow-up calls and send out emails
T- Trust – This is honestly one of the hardest elements when it comes to business. You have this amazing idea, you develop it from the ground up, you fund it and then you hand it off to someone else. Whoa… that’s tough. BUT (and this is coming from someone who hates the word “but”) you must. Despite the fact that you think no one is capable of being YOU, there needs to be some serious trust applied to the person who’s receiving the hand-off. There’s a reason you’ve appointed them, after all. You believe in their belief that this is the best thing since sliced bread and in that spirit, you need to support their movement toward the goal. Let go of the small things, the unimportant facets. Quit playing the ‘I trust you/ hang on… maybe I don’t’ game and get on with it. If you trust, set them free and know that you can rely on this person to get things done. If you don’t… you need to re-evaluate your structure.
U- Unicorn – When running a start-up, you need to be many things to many people. You need to know and understand every in and out and if you don’t, you best have an explanation as to why you’re unsure. It’s a rough position to be in because startups on the whole are unpredictable and uncertain. You need to play the role of whatever is needed at whatever time.
V- Vision – Your product or service was developed because you saw a problem and you found a way to fix it. Your vision is your staple. It’s what you, and only you, can have a fighting passion for, an understanding of and a vigor beyond anyone else’s understanding. You felt there was a need, you developed a solution and now, you need to drive that vision home.
W- Work it! – Never underestimate the power of networking. Take advantage of every business related community event to shake hands, practice meeting new people and perfecting your pitch. Three networking tips:
- It’s about quality, not quantity. Your goal at any networking event is to have meaningful and purposeful conversations. You shouldn’t be whipping out your business cards and handing them out to everyone in attendance. Of course, you want to try to meet numerous people and you want to impress the powers that be but best to make use of the quality over quantity analogy here.
- Be kind to everyone. You never know who you’re talking to and making assumptions about who is relevant and who’s important could really come back to haunt you!
- Every hour you spend networking is an hour away from everything else. I actually enjoy networking but believe me, I make the most of every single event! Why? Because I understand that I could be at home, hanging out with my boys and enjoying my family. I’ve opted, however, to come out to this particular event. Why would I EVER waste one single moment.. seriously!
X- X-ray – Everyone has a different word or set of words for this. Ours is ‘strat plan’. Every month, every quarter and every year, sit down with your team and examine every facet of your business. This could be in the form of a SWOT analysis or if you prefer, you can go over the 5 main components of any business (Growth, HR, Financials, Marketing and Operations) and break out your goals for the next month, quarter or year.
Y- Yield – Here’s the thing.. I wear my heart on my sleeve. This means that I’ve made rash decisions, made the wrong comments at the wrong time and overstepped in times of feeling under-appreciated. None of the above noted behaviour was ever worth the outcome. Had I been wiser (and had a little more experience) I would have known that all I needed was a 24 hour yield period to think it over. To ponder over the situation, it’s potential outcome and my subsequent decision. There’s NEVER a need to make a rash decision. Better to be prudent than regretful in most cases and I genuinely believe that this is a lesson I’ve learned along the way that I hope to impart, so as to avoid anyone ever having to feel the brunt of a quickly made and under thought-of decision.
Z- Zest – This is a simple and great way to end this blog series. Zest is what I live for. I have never had a day where I’ve dreaded driving in to work. I love every day at the office. I love our team. I love our product. I have a passion that I could never even describe for what it is I have the pleasure, scratch that, the honor of representing every single day! I only hope that’s what all of you reading feel when thinking about your day to day. If you have that kind of zest, you’re bound to find an unrivalled success and ‘win’ every single day of your work life!
And with that… we wrap up this series. Hopefully you walk away with some great advice to help you with running your business. Have any other tips or tricks you’d like to share with others? Leave a comment below!