Five. That’s the number of lessons I’ve learned over the last 11 months. Okay, actually it’s more like five million. If you’re anything like me, there’s a lesson in EVERYTHING if you look hard enough.
This year certainly had its bright moments where I felt I had a radiant shine, but it also had it’s stressful moments that felt so dark I wasn’t sure if I would ever see the light. I stayed focused (albeit grouchy) and with the help of my connections made it through the other side. I’ve learned a lot of lessons and received a lot of advice. Here are the top five tips from my connections that have impacted me the most in 2019.
1. Always Make Your Clients Feel Valued
And don’t talk negatively about them. Your clients are the reason you are in business. They choose to work with you because you are skilled in what you do, or offer a product they love. You solve a problem and continually invest in building the connection. You nurture the relationship and increase trust by continually meeting their needs and exceeding their expectations. Because of the trust, you create a long-time repeat customer who is not afraid to provide referrals. These people who trust you, who refer business to you, will follow you wherever you go because of the relationship you’ve built with them. Never forget the reason you are in business and always appreciate your clients.
2. Create a “Board of Advisors”
You may be the expert in your area, but you aren’t an expert in all areas of business. Identify those in your professional network who you can learn from. Think about the areas you are the weakest in, and ask them if they are willing to meet with you to discuss your business a few times a year. I chose to have another marketing person, an accountant, a financial advisor, a lawyer, and an established business owner in my camp. This group is comprised of men and women, young and old to give me the best, most well-rounded advice. Be sure to recognize them: send them a Thank You card, treat them to lunch and put them on your Christmas list to show your appreciation. The important thing here is to align yourself with professionals skilled in specific areas to help guide you in your business. We are better together.
Bonus suggestion: Don’t be afraid to reach out to business owners you think are just killin’ it. Tell them why you think they are great. Ask them to tell you their story. Celebrate them. They are probably exhausted and have moments of weakness. Your kind words could have a lasting impact.
3. Get Involved.
Get involved in a group that best aligns with your personal and professional values. Consider mentoring a child, joining your local chamber of commerce, a special interests group, or a service club. It’s not about you, it’s not about your business. It’s purely about making a difference and being a light for someone else. Do it with a clean heart and true intentions, not to pad your resume or make your LinkedIn profile look good.
4. Business and Financial Coaches are Worth It
If you own your business but are scared by your financial planning (like me), I encourage you – No, I IMPLORE YOU – to find a professional skilled in this area. There are many business coaches, financial coaches, CPAs and financial planners you can align yourself with to develop a plan and help you achieve your goals. Business coaches will help steer you into the right direction by analyzing your business, researching the industry and providing guidance and advice. There is a sense of peace knowing you have a plan, and that you’re workin’ it.
5. Have a Plan
I’ve been a part of expert panels where lawyers, real estate agents, insurance agents, government officials, accountants, bank representatives and marketing professionals all gather together to answer questions from start-up businesses. There are many businesses that just start with the dream, but forget the plan part. The dream can be achieved if you have a solid foundation, a plan of attack, and a way to measure goals. Don’t underestimate the process. Ignoring it doesn’t make it go away.
These may seem like simple things to learn or just know, but it’s also easy to get caught up in the details of daily life. Don’t let the hub-bub of every day life keep you from hitting those goals and making your dream come true.