These days, it seems like business advice is an industry of its own. Books, courses, credentials, even the unsolicited advice from family members – it never seems to stop.
While most business advice isn’t worth much, we sometimes get advice that is truly life-changing and allows us to see things from a whole new perspective. Here is what entrepreneurs say about the best business advice they’ve ever received.
Now that the internet has been flooded with so many businesses competing worldwide, a loyal base of customers is more crucial to success than ever.
“Customer loyalty is the key to success,” said John Levisay, CEO of The Pro’s Closet. “The top way to create customer loyalty is by crafting a killer value proposition. Make sure to flush out all the details of who you are and what you stand for. Now target your ideal customers. Make it specific, niche and you’ll find a loyal audience for your product or service. It’s also important to conduct a bit of A/B testing to confirm that your ideal customer will see value in what you offer.”
Use every marketing and service tactic possible to retain customers and keep them coming back.
Don’t Back Down
On top of all the advice you receive on your business journey, you’ll also hear the opinions of many doubters and skeptics. Tune them out, since you’ve got bigger plans than they could imagine.
“To stand beside your actions,” said Eric Gist, CEO of Awesome OS. “This makes you think through every business decision and has your trust in that decision. It has taken my business to new heights when you are thinking through every detail.”
We all deal with criticism differently, but giving up is never an option.
Whether you’re developing software, mastering photoshop, or fixing bikes, the quality of your work should always be a top priority.
“Focus on quality and value and money will follow,” said Ajay Mehta, CEO of Birthdate. “Business is a game with rules, as the universal law of cause and effect. Money coming in is an effect of the value and quality you put out. Therefore it’s important to focus on quality and value first.”
A great product can’t be ignored, especially if you execute on outreach and marketing.
From your first entry-level job to the executive boardroom, you’ll need to build strong communication skills at every stage.
“Good communication is very important to the overall health of any organization,” said Tri Nguyen, CEO of Network Capital. “It can help employees communicate effectively and efficiently, and it can also help prevent communication breakdowns. The soundness of any association depends on great correspondence among its gathering of individuals. Possess good communication and your business will thrive.”
We all have weak links in our communication style, so learn your own shortcomings and work to improve them.
If you really believe in your product and the mission of your company, everything else starts making more sense. Those core values will propel you forward at every point on your journey.
“When you’re passionate about your product, it’s much easier to make it successful,” said Elliot Kim, Co-Founder, Head of Finance and Operations at Brevite. “You’re more willing to put in the extra effort and late nights to make your business a reality when you’re passionate about what you’re building and getting all the details exactly how you want it. One of our main values at Brevite is that we are serious about play, because we believe passion and creativity are key to our drive to success.”
Passion won’t always be there, but values are eternal.
Ridding yourself of fear is definitely easier said than done, but with enough experience, you’ll find that your confidence helps you overcome those feelings.
“There’s an entrepreneur right now, scared to death, making excuses, saying, ‘It’s not the right time just yet.’ There’s no such thing as a good time,” said Apple CEO Tim Cook. “I started an apparel-manufacturing business in the tech-boom years. I mean, come on. Get out of your garage and go take a chance, and start your business.”
Most of our fears exist only in our heads, so remember that when taking risks in business and life.
Passion = Progress
Even if you didn’t love school or excel in academics, there is bound to be something that lights a fire within you. Harness that energy and turn it into a business, like so many have done before.
“The best business advice I’ve ever received was to pursue your passion when deciding to start a business venture,” said Shilla Kim-Parker, CEO and Co-Founder at Thrilling. “Without real passion for what you’re pursuing, innovative ideas and connections to your company do not come as naturally.”
When you find something you love to do, it doesn’t feel like work!
Choose Words Wisely
There are many outspoken entrepreneurs in the limelight, but in reality, the everyday business owner is extremely careful with the messages they send to employees and customers.
“Always think before you speak,” said Bari Suzanne, COO of Stabili-Teeth. “I know it is a simple saying that a lot of people hear, but it is so true. Everyone wants to jump in with their comment, but stop and pause for a minute before giving your piece.”
Every statement you make will alter the course of your business in some way, so keep this in mind when communicating with anyone.
Build a Network
Unless your family is well-connected, you’ll need to start a network from scratch, which requires a ton of hard work. It’s worth it, though, and a good general skill to work on in life.
“When you’re just starting out as a small business, your network is your greatest asset,” said Shaun Price, Head of Customer Acquisition at MitoQ. “Leverage relationships you’ve already built with your friends and family, people who genuinely want to see you succeed. They will be the first people to test your product, the first customers to sign up for your mailing list, and the best grassroots marketing money can buy.”
Networking doesn’t have to be stuffy or contrived – just bring value to others and connect on common goals.
Ready for Change
If we learned only one thing from the crisis of 2020, it was that every business is vulnerable to rapid change. Be ready to make quick pivots and respond to unignorable industry trends.
“Adaptability and flexibility are key to any business strategy,” said Bill Wells, Co-Founder, Head of Finance and Operations at Wild One. “Consumer trends change more rapidly than ever and it’s important to stay in tune with your customers.”
The next big change may not happen this year, but it’s on the way.
Your products, services, marketing, customer experience – you don’t want to overcomplicate anything, if you can help it.
“Keep it simple,” said Brent Sanders, CEO of Wicksly. “Business owners will always find themselves working under pressure, within new constraints and adapt fairly quickly and adequately. Regardless, you must always hold true to the reason your customers chose you in the first place. Keep your offering simple and understandable. Especially, during current times of uncertainty, society craves familiarity so establishing brand reliability is truly an asset to growth.”
We tend to make things more complex than they need to be, so avoid this trap.
There are business advice gems to be found in books, blogs, and everyday conversations. Some of the best concepts go beyond business and apply to life in general.
“The 80/20 rule states that 20% of our actions correlate to 80% of our results in business, and in my experience, this is absolutely true,” said Aidan Cole, Co-Founder of Nailboo. “Pinpoint your most productive activities and ideas, then put most of your focus there. The other stuff will fall into place.”
What are the things that are vital to your business success, and what can you delegate or outsource? Use the 80/20 rule to your advantage.
The power of connecting with real people is a lost art in the world of business, especially online. Some of the best advice is about connecting on a human level and building strong relationships.
“Many companies have forgotten they sell to actual people,” said Dharmesh Shah, CTO and Co-Founder of HubSpot. “Humans care about the entire experience, not just the marketing or sales or service. To really win in the modern age, you must solve for humans.”
It’s a digital world, but this doesn’t mean you can neglect human nature.
If you don’t believe in yourself, how can you expect others to do the same?
This seems like a simplified bit of logic, but there is a powerful truth within.
“Believe in your ideas and have the motivation to see them through,” said Alex Mathews, Co-Founder of De La Calle. “The hardest part is breaking down your dream into smaller objectives, but with a passion to see your project through you’ll be able to work through any challenge. The team at De La Calle places a strong value on company culture based on teamwork too. We do our best creative work when we put our ideas together. It lays for a great foundation in celebrating successes together and cements us in the culture our beverage, Tepache, is from.”
When you believe in yourself and your product, others will follow suit!
The Long Game
The myth of overnight success has been mostly debunked, but many young entrepreneurs still need to learn the power of patience in all they do.
“Be patient and keep working towards your goals,” said Guy Bar, Founder and CEO of Hygear. “Rome was not built in a day, so why will your business? Success comes to those who keep their heads down and work day in and day out, be smart and network with those who believe in you.”
Success happens slowly, then quickly, they say, so stick with it and don’t stray off course.
For every great piece of business advice you get, you’ll have to sift through 99 other opinions that don’t give you much help or hope. Be picky with whose advice you take seriously.
“Some of the best advice I have received when it comes to running a business is to take people’s judgement with a grain of salt,” said Kiran Gollakota, Co-Founder of Waltham Clinic. “Everyone is going to have their opinions on what you are doing and how you are doing things. Take it at face value, and continue your progress as a leader.”
Ultimately, you’re the captain of your ship and the company, so go with your instinct and don’t let up.
It’s often the companies that get too comfortable with the status quo that get dismantled when a transformative technology comes along. Don’t be a sitting duck and be ready to adapt.
“The best business advice I have ever received is to embrace change,” said David DiLorenzo, President of Valentino Beauty Pure. “Nothing in this world stays the same so why would businesses. A successful business is constantly changing, so embrace it! The more you embrace change the more successful you will become.”
Is there an aspect of your business that feels outdated or needs an overhaul? Don’t wait until it’s too late.
Take the Chance
Every business leader took a leap of faith when they started a business. Even the most confident entrepreneurs have doubts, but they put these aside and move forward despite them.
“Be open to opportunities, you never know what may land in your lap or what door is going to open,” said Jason Wong, Founder and CEO of Doe Lashes. “Trying new things and putting yourself out there can land you in some great places.”
What is that one thing you’ve been putting off? It might be time to finally give it a shot.
Some of the best business advice is focused on the importance of teamwork, which might sound cliché, but is really so vital to starting a business out of thin air.
“Whether you’re just starting out or are a mature company, in order to grow you have to surround yourself with a solid team,” said Randi Shinder, CEO of SBLA. “Your team should not just be an expert in their craft or even come from your industry. You need a team with an entrepreneurial spirit who can lead.”
Hiring, managing people, navigating different personalities – these are the skills that sometimes get overlooked, but are so key to success.
Know Your Strengths
The greatest entrepreneurs are known for their keen sense of self-awareness. They know their abilities and build those skills while delegating key tasks to others who excel in those areas.
“An insightful piece of business advice I came across was to admit what you are not able to handle,” said Chris Caouette, Co-Founder of Gorilla Bow. “As an entrepreneur you may feel protective over your business, but this is not to say that you necessarily have to handle every aspect of it. You need to be realistic about which skills you may not excel in and what you may need to outsource. If you definitely want to handle everything, be prepared to work that much harder. It’s possible that you may have to learn new skills you may have not had to learn before from scratch, especially if you are a first-time entrepreneur.”
We should all work on our weaknesses as well, but practicality is also important when building a business.
Working a normal job is exhausting enough. Do you think you have the energy to start a business from square one and make a full-time income? A strong mission will give you that drive.
“You need to be passionate about what you do. It is the only way to maintain the high level of energy needed every day to realize your end goal,” said Bellanca Smigel Rutter, President of Supersmile. “It’s important to also understand your limitations in skills and expertise, although you may have a fantastic idea that’s new to an industry, assembling the right team is critical. It’s okay to not know everything from digital marketing tools and graphic design to knowing the right manufacturers for your product. Have the right people on your team who can fill in these gaps; every role is vital and ensures there is the right dynamic to support the business.”
Find what gives you that spark of lasting energy and run with it, because you will need it.
You’ve heard the expression – your network is your net worth. It shouldn’t be taken literally, but the lesson is clear. The more you network, the more opportunities you’ll have to expand your reach and get involved in new, profitable ventures.
“One of the most valuable pieces of advice I’ve ever received was to never stop networking,” said Alex Czarnecki, CEO of Cottage. “Networking is hugely important in business and life in general. With business’s needs constantly changing, networking is useful in helping you quickly and easily fill gaps in your workforce, expand services and operations, and more. Networking will always be useful – so never stop!”
Giving and receiving business advice is tricky, and you always need to consider the source. However, we trust the wisdom of these business leaders who have made their mark and achieved considerable success in their careers.