For many aspiring entrepreneurs, the path to success looks like this: Get educated, create a business idea, find financing, and start the business. While there’s nothing technically wrong with such a path, it implies that starting a business is the end goal. But in reality, you’re only just beginning when you launch your business. A grand opening isn’t an indicator that you’ve finally achieved your best.
Maybe that’s your best now, but why stop there? Companies like Amazon didn’t become as successful as today if they didn’t adapt to the changing market. So if your goal is to make your company as big as the multinational mega-corporations, there’s only one ultimate secret to that: don’t stop learning.
Just because many famous CEOs dropped out of college doesn’t mean they’ve abandoned learning and relied on being street smart. You’d be surprised by the number of books they read and the type of people they seek mentorship from. That’s because they still pick important lessons from time to time as they do business.
That said, you can also experience the same thing. Below are the most important lessons you’ll learn while doing business:
1. You’ll Make Mistakes
Completing a degree in business or reading all the books in business doesn’t make you immune to mistakes. Even the smartest person in the world makes mistakes. Otherwise, they wouldn’t know how to do things right. Hence, don’t beat yourself up when you do something wrong. It’s normal, and they make you a better entrepreneur.
Entrepreneurs’ common mistakes include picking the wrong partner, lacking focus, planning too much, choosing the wrong investor, and skimping on marketing. Picking the wrong partner tends to happen if the business was planned by you and a friend or family member.
Often, we think that the people we know well make the best business partners because we trust them. But trustworthiness doesn’t equate to good business skills. When you enlist someone as a business partner, your relationship would be similar to a married couple. And that takes more than trust to maintain. You also have to meet eye-to-eye in almost everything.
Lacking focus can be your downfall or stepping stone. To turn it into the latter, follow the example of Richard Branson, founder of Virgin Group. His lack of focus allowed him to create a diversified business model, and it worked.
To avoid most business mistakes, especially costly ones, have mentors or enlist a business coach. A business coach can come from a business consulting firm, though they’re different from a consultant. A coach draws out answers from you, while a consultant tells you what to do.
If you want to start a project, a coach will let you start and teach you along the way, while a consultant will give you an “instruction manual” before letting you start. As such, a consultant may be better for you if you’re a complete business newbie, while a coach will suit you more if you have experience under your belt already.
2. Always Keep Costs to a Minimum
As individuals, we tend to spend more when we earn more. But you can’t apply that attitude in your business. In fact, you have to finance like a startup and spend like a startup. Sure, there will come a time when your company can afford a car and a bigger office, but that will take time. Don’t take a swell in customers as a sign to spend for a big project yet. Stay pragmatic even as you’re growing because your investors should see that you’re spending the business’s money responsibly.
3. Watch Out for New Opportunities
For example, if you think indulgent weight loss products are a scam, but you don’t want to sell unhealthy food either, there has to be something in between you can create. Healthy food that doesn’t masquerade as an indulgent treat and is still tasty and genuinely good for the body. By creating such a product, you can target a niche market that wants to lose weight but doesn’t find indulgent weight-loss food effective.
Find existing problems in the market to make great opportunities open for you. Don’t try to create a problem just so the market will buy your products.
4. Earn from Your Passion
Successful people are passionate about their particular craft, field, or talent. So even if you have an amazing business idea, you won’t likely feel successful if you don’t love what you’re doing. At the end of the day, you’re also a human being who needs happiness. Hence, the most important lesson you’ll learn in business is that you have to be passionate about doing business in the first place. Without that passion, you won’t find the drive to succeed, and no seminars, mentors, and books can change that.