Fast little loans
To be successful in your own business you must set clear goals, and review them regularly. They must stretch you, but not pull you apart.
Goals should be: specific, measurable, achievable, realistic/relevant and time-bound.
Viable plans then need to be formulated, followed by a strong emphasis on implementation. Great concepts and ideas mean nothing if they are not put into action.
It is important to focus; don’t try to do too many things. Focus on what you do best; get partners for the rest. Partner with the right people and for the right reasons.
Passion is important but – on its own – is not enough. You also need knowledge, skills, competence and the right resources. Remember the four Es of passion: energy, enthusiasm, excitement and entrepreneurial spirit.
Understand the numbers – the devil is in the detail. Key tools in any business are the income statement, balance sheet and cash-flow statement. Profit does not equal cash. Accounting is the language of business. The good news is: accounting is not that difficult.
Consider emotional intelligence (EQ). It’s all about understanding emotions, managing emotions, and how you relate to people. Research tells us that EQ is twice as important as IQ in the world of work. Having a positive attitude, a sense of humour and smiling (when appropriate) can be powerful.
Look after yourself health-wise and in terms of your physical appearance. It is not always easy, but learn to switch off (from work-related issues) for brief periods.
Manage your stress levels – don’t let it dominate you. Activities such as sport, gardening or fishing can be helpful.
Networking is important. Nourish and nurture your networks, and grow new ones. Use your network to your advantage in a positive sense (without exploiting others). Joining a golf club, dining with the right people and attending the occasional conference can be useful.
It’s not about being busy; it’s about achieving results. Always ask: is this activity adding value? Learn to prioritise.
Stay true to your values. These may be, for example, integrity and excellence in customer service. There will be times when you are tempted to violate these values. Usually, in the medium to long term, this does not pay off.
Remember you are always in selling mode, selling your products/services, yourself or your business. First impressions are vital.
Successful entrepreneurs develop at least one or two unique selling points (USPs) – this is what differentiates you from your competitors. Differentiate, but don’t ever alienate.
Be prepared, and always do your homework thoroughly.
Continuously ask questions such as: what are the competitors doing? What opportunities are available? What are the threats?
Be fast, agile and flexible. In the old days the big used to eat the small; today the fast eat the slow. There is a lot of truth in the saying “adapt or die”.
Support is important – don’t be afraid to seek help from others. It is vital to have strong support mechanisms, both professionally and in a personal sense.
Remember: learning never stops. It’s important to keep up to date with the latest developments. Spend time broadening and deepening your knowledge and skills.
Once or twice a year, get off the treadmill to reflect on where you are and where you want to be. This is best done away from the work-place. It’s not always easy, and may require courage and discipline.
l Dr Edmund Rudman is manager of the strategy unit at Maccauvlei Learning Academy. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org