As more and more of the workforce moves towards the gig economy and we see a much larger percentage of people strike out and start their own businesses, the first thing most people think of is the business idea itself, then quickly followed by generating sales.
After all, you cannot succeed in business if a) you don’t start, and b) you don’t have a good product or service. This is very true and points to the importance of doing your due diligence to ensure there is a market for what you are going to produce.
But let’s assume for a moment that you’ve settled on your business idea, there is demand for it, and so you’re up and running and starting to see sales. Most entrepreneurs put a lot of effort into sales and marketing. Google, Facebook and Instagram are constantly offering to advertise your business for you (for a fee), there is a plethora of people selling online courses, and so it doesn’t seem that hard to be in business.
However, where the real success can end up getting down to is your ability to actually manage a business.
I was talking to an accountant friend at soccer training a couple of years ago and he was telling me that they see issues in that people start (primarily online) businesses with ease, but they have not learned any operational skills to actually manage that business.
I was also listening to a podcast the other day while I was working by a social media guru named Gary Veerchuck. Gary Vee, as he is known, has built a massive following, but also a business that has close to 1,000 employees. He was telling the crowd at a digital conference that the thing he is most proud of in his business is not his social media skills, but actually his operational skills. Most of his day, he said, was filled with HR issues. He is in advertising, so his company not only sells ideas, but it sells the talents and skills of his people.
It takes a lot of courage to start a business, but if you start to see some success, it then takes a lot more courage to take the next steps. Adding staff, leasing an office/cars/computers… if your dream of being a successful business person starts to eventuate, the excitement of the marketing brochures and product starts to wear off as you have to deal with the day to day issues of running the business.
When I was younger, I always used to wonder why most successful business people looked older than they are and a little overweight, and not more like Richard Branson. I have since come to realize that growing a successful business takes many hours of work, and that’s why more people are like the former and not the latter!
So keep your eyes on your sales and ensuring that you have more money coming in than going out, as that is the first rule of business. However, after you have that covered, my best advice after a full adult life of running a business is to learn some of the more ‘boring’ elements of business.
From finance, to employment; from stock management to taxation… these are pretty boring areas and are hard for entrepreneurs, like many of us are, to have to manage, but they are at the heart of a successful business. I know in our company that I love working on new opportunities, but I have also learned the importance of turning up every day and taking care of the business that we currently have. Adrenaline and excitement are fantastic traits, but dealing with the management issues of your business is at the heart of a successful enterprise.
If ‘behind every great man is a great woman’, then behind every successful business is some boring managerial types who cross the t’s and dot the i’s. For all of us in business, we cannot take home the spoils until we have dealt with the mundane areas that will see us stay in business got the long haul.