The world’s top businesspeople didn’t accidentally fall into success—they worked hard, took risks, and followed the advice of those who had gone before them. Aspiring entrepreneurs can find inspiration and advice by studying the practices and beliefs of successful business owners. Here are some of the most valuable pieces of entrepreneurial wisdom from the world’s top entrepreneurs.
‘It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it’ (Warren Buffett)
A good reputation has always been essential for small businesses. The rise of the internet has made reputation even more important—a negative customer review could potentially be seen by thousands of people. Just one mistake can destroy a painstakingly built reputation in an instant. Guard your precious reputation by always providing excellent customer service, supplying only top-quality products, and promptly acting on negative feedback.
‘Insanity: Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results’ (Albert Einstein)
Successful entrepreneurs constantly monitor their businesses, watching for changes and analysing the reasons behind them. If a problem has been identified—such as low sales, or a significant drop in website visitors—steps should always be taken to resolve the issue. Burying your head in the sand and ignoring poor results can be fatal—if your business is failing, you need to adapt in order to survive.
‘If you can’t feed a team with two pizzas, it’s too large’ (Jeff Bezos)
It would take far more than two pizzas to feed Amazon’s 100,000 employees. However, this advice does hold true for small businesses. Keeping employee numbers low can significantly reduce overhead costs. It also promotes creativity and ingenuity—smaller teams work together more effectively than large groups, as communication is easier to facilitate.
‘Diligence is the mother of good luck’ (Benjamin Franklin)
Luck—both good and bad—can play a part in business. However, luck alone won’t build a successful company—it takes hard work, ingenuity, and an excellent product or service. Thinking ahead and being prepared will allow you to take full advantage of good luck when it arrives.
‘Chase the vision, not the money, the money will end up following you’ (Tony Hsieh)
This advice goes hand-in-hand with a quote from Chinese philosopher Confucius—‘Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.’ Entrepreneurs must devote themselves entirely to their business, particularly in the early days. Those who chase a lucrative idea rather than one they’re passionate about are setting themselves up for failure—it’s incredibly difficult to stay motivated about a concept you don’t love.
‘Make every detail perfect and limit the number of details to perfect’ (Jack Dorsey)
If you’ve already had some success, it can be tempting to expand your business by adding new product lines or services, hiring more staff, or moving into bigger premises. However, spreading your resources too thinly can easily lead to the downfall of your company. It’s generally better to focus on a handful of top-quality features, rather than offering a larger range of mediocre services.
‘The golden rule for every business man is this: Put yourself in your customer’s place’ (Orison Swett Marden)
You might believe passionately in your business—but ultimately, customer opinion dictates whether it will succeed. In times past, if customers had issues with your products or services, they would simply find an alternative and take their business elsewhere. However, today’s clientele are likely to take to social media with their concerns, airing their grievances in front of a large swathe of potential patrons. It’s essential to listen to your customers, respond to their comments and issues, and make changes if necessary.
Author: This article was written by Matt Everard of Barrington Freight, a logistics company based in the UK.
Published: March 26, 2014