Learning Business Lessons is a Journey
As an entrepreneur what business lessons can you, and do you, learn from your business endeavours? Do you become progressively better or are the lessons you learn period-bound and you have to keep learning new lessons?
Over the last 25 years, I have created and managed seven start-ups in marketing, training, property, and advertising. Two were very successful (one still is), two were somewhat successful and three were not successful at all. (I define success as achieving a sustainable net profit of >15% within two years by conducting business in a virtuous manner.) Every time I established a start-up, closed a business, or sold my shares, I reviewed the challenges and lessons learnt from previous and current businesses.
So what did I glean from these encounters and experiences?
For better interpretation I clustered the greatest challenges I experienced as follows:
– Creating a meaningful value proposition, clear messaging, SMART goals and understanding the available capacity.
– Developing the required discipline and patience.
– Determining and establishing the essential procedures for marketing and sales. (I found the processes for other business functions relatively simple)
– Determining and establishing the minimum requirements for technology and platforms.
Roles, time, and Measurement
– Deciding who does what, when, and what is measured.
The most significant lessons I learned were: cumulative?
- Continually growing your network is invaluable.
- Take a real interest in your client’s business. Get yourself informed.
- When you make a mistake, immediately inform all affected parties.
- Concentrate on what you know. Focus on your strengths.
- Deliver on time. Not before or after.
- Everybody reports to someone.
- Stay in the problem as long as you can. Discipline and patience are your friends.
- The saying, “Innovation is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration” is true.
- An inquiry or sending a quote doesn’t mean a sale.
Perhaps the most valuable insight I learned was that complacency leads to a false sense of security and you quickly ‘forget’ the lessons you have learned. For me, learning the lessons is essentially the easy part. Sustaining, and building on, the ‘learnt’ behaviour is the more challenging endeavour.