Want to do things differently in your business next year? Most went through a challenging time this year, but it’s a cause to reflect on the lessons and what needs to change. Here are the next set of entrepreneurship rules as a continuation of last week’s article.
1. You can’t do it alone.
I first realised the importance of this when a training assignment needed me to be in Mombasa and Eldoret at exactly the same time. Growth happens when more things can be done without your personal presence (as the business owner). Scale in my view is doing more in the same twenty-four hours. Making time more productive. To do this you are going to partner with people or hire them. This means letting go of the notion that if you let people in, they are out to steal your idea and run with it. To pull off this job, I had to teach someone to train. Yes, they could have taken the lessons and become my competition. I realized however that the vision is bigger than the fear, so I had to trust it more. Write down all the ways your business is completely dependent on you and understand that in there, is the reason you are not growing.
2. Hire people who are better than you.
The entrepreneur puts resources together and makes them work towards a common vision. You don’t necessarily have to be the superstar and definitely not for all roles. Imagine if you were a doctor, who then decided to build a hospital. You would soon realise that in order to do this, you have to hire other doctors, many of who might be better than you or have specialties that you have no idea about. You will even discover that the work of building the hospital requires that you don’t get to see patients at all. Don’t strive to be the technician in your business. Hire the right people especially those who can do things better than you.
3. Build a brand.
Create a unique experience around your products or services that will be remembered (for the right reasons of course). Then people will buy again, talk about it and even pay a premium for it. A brand is a twenty-four-hour salesperson. While you are asleep it would be good if someone, somewhere is talking well about your product or company. How do you and your team make customers feel when you are interacting with them? A lot of businesses this year realized that they had taken customers for granted, hence were not memorable enough in a year where the consumer was generally more careful with the shilling. Figure out what would make the customer loyal to your business even if somebody else had the same exact offering.
4. Don’t justify indiscipline with money.
We like to cheat that we don’t pay ourselves, can’t afford an accountant or bookkeeper, that we can progress without financial statements or by being tax uncompliant. Those are lies engineered to keep us from being accountable. This year we’ve seen big public companies suffer because of some form of financial indiscipline. This one just requires us to get our act together. Stop dipping into the company funds at any time for personal expenses. More money does not mean more spending. Events this year have taught us the need to have both personal and business reserves. Recording and management of business finances needs to be just as intentional as acquiring new customers.
5. Make money a plan.
Spend the rest of the year creating financial budgets or forecasts for next year. How much money do you plan to make and spend? How? People won’t just buy more or your products magically. This plan should just not just be about nice sounding numbers to make you happy. Behind every number should be rationale and actions that you are willing to do. Consider whether costs will increase. Whether you will be able to fund growth or need to raise money externally. Building a financially sustainable business doesn’t just happen. Let’s aim to do better than just survive by planning for it. Actions come before any desired increase.
Business, as usual, did not work this year and neither will it going forward. There’s a lot more to entrepreneurship and the number of things that need to change can get overwhelming. Take comfort in the fact that great businesses just commit to continuously questioning what needs to be done differently. Past mistakes matter far less than the ongoing choices we choose to make.