A magazine I read recently asked its entrepreneur readers to send in business lessons that they had had to learn the hard way.
Here are a few that particularly resonated with me:
1. You can’t do everything on your own. Building a team is essential because there are only so many hours one person can devote to a business. If you don’t want to be handcuffed to your business, make sure your team can carry on when you’re not around.
2. You may think your product is perfect, but your clients won’t. You only find out how good a product really is when it’s in the field and users are beating it up. It’s like X Factor contestants – they think they’re talented, their friends tell them they’re brilliant, but once they get on the big stage it can be a different story.
3. Do one thing really well. Entrepreneurs try to be everything to everyone, but it really pays to specialise and carve yourself a profitable niche.
4. Undercharging is not sustainable. Lowering your prices or giving discounts is just giving money away for no benefit. Instead, always choose to compete on quality, value, expertise and your niche focus. New clients who start with you because you’re cheapest will dump you without a qualm as soon as someone else undercuts you.
5. Be grateful. Appreciate loyal customers who show you there is a demand for what you do. There is no cash amount you can put on loyalty and the effect of having brand advocates.
6. It’s not a sale until it’s paid for. It’s great getting an order, or landing a meeting with a prospective client. But that counts for nothing until the money is in the bank!