I am so excited to share that this month marks 19 years since I left corporate America to become my own boss. I started my first business, Quintessence Group, in March of 1999. I had a laptop, fax machine and a dream. After this long in business, I have learned a lot, most of which I share with you on this blog, but there are a few things that I wanted to point out along this journey we call entrepreneurship.
Here are the 12 things I’ve learned in 19 years of business:
- Don’t Name Your Business a Complicated Word—The name of my company is Quintessence Group, back in college when I came up with the name I thought it was brilliant, but no one can say or spell it, and I have spent years.
- Leaders are Readers—Success leaves clues everywhere. One of the secrets to my business success has been constantly reading books weekly on business, leadership and social media.
- Never Let a Customer Down—When you make a mistake in business, you have to own it and fix it, no matter the cost. You must never let a customer down. It’s not about the mistake. It’s about how you make good on the mistake.
- Be Good To Work With—I work hard and I laugh a lot. My customers enjoy dealing with me and my team. No one likes a DIVA, or a business owner who treats customers like they are a bother. Love on your customers and you will always have customers.
- Use Employee Mistakes as Teaching Moments—It’s easy to bash employees for making mistakes, but why not turn them into teaching moments instead. You need to mentor your employees so that they can learn how to do things properly. If you train them they can learn your expectations well.
- Be Transparent with Employees and Clients—Often as a business owner you might think you need to come up with all the answers that is not true. Pull your team in when there’s a crisis, you never know who will come up with the right solution. Also be open with customers, they will brainstorm with you too, if you have a partnership relationship.
- Work on Leadership Skills, not Just Business Skills—Your leadership will set the tone for your company culture. You can become a better leader especially if you work on it. Often we think about the business skills we need, such a sales training but leadership should be high on your list as well.
- Build Partnerships—You should look at your employees, customers and competitors as partners. Cooperation is much better than competition. Partners will few their role in your business much differently than a rank and file employee. You don’t just want to sell stuff; you want to partner to create a solution for your customers.
- Pay Your Vendors On Time—Protect your business credit, by paying your vendor as agreed. Whenever you apply for a loan you must list your business creditors, if you have a bad reputation their report of your poor payment history can keep you from getting a loan.
- You Need a Team—As soon as you can get yourself some employees. Being a one-man army is exhausting and limits your business grow. Start slow with a virtual employee first, then add more. You need staff so that you can focus on your most high valued activities.
- Grow Yourself to Grow Your Business—You are what drives your business. Take business classes, join a peer-to-peer mentoring group, attend your industry convention, stay on top of your industry trends and the technology in your industry. Stay ready so you don’t get surprised by innovation some day that puts you out of business.
- Pray Over Your Business—When you incorporate prayer into your business life, it can be used to help manage the stress, get clarity about decisions, and keep you focused on what is most important. It is a profound privilege to carry things to the Lord in prayer. It has really helped me survive the tough days in my business.
The good days in business far outweigh the bad days. Running a business is a spiritual journey as much as anything else. So I hope these tips have helped you think differently about how you see yourself and your business. My wish for you is that you see 20+ years in business, and that your business enables you to live your dream life.
Don’t forget to grab a copy of my new book FIX YOUR BUSINESS, A 90-Day Plan to Get Back Your Life and Reduce Chaos In Your Business.