You don’t have to be experienced or smart to be a successful entrepreneur: you just need to make smart decisions. Each day that passes as you make impulsive decisions or chase the next shiny object will be another opportunity wasted, another poor decision made.
Warren Buffett wisely said, “Someone is sitting in the shade today because someone planted a tree a long time ago.”
To do well in business, you need to see the big picture to know where your business is headed. Developing a habit of making smart choices will set the foundation for your entrepreneur career.
Here are five things that smart entrepreneurs never do so that they can grow their business and become more successful.
1. Never Micro Manage
When I started my first business, I was a control freak. I was the King Of Micromanagement.
Like many first-time business owners, I wanted to know all the details because as you know, when you’re at the beginning, you are doing everything as the one-man or one-woman show.
You are selling, closing, invoicing, marketing, meeting people, doing fulfillment, taking calls, etc. You’re talking to everybody and micromanaging to make sure everything doesn’t fall apart.
But eventually as your revenue grows you will hit a glass ceiling. That rugged individualist, control freak behaviour will prevent you from going to the next level. You have to let go, and stop managing the small details.
You have to become a macro thinker and figure out where you’re going. Your job is to figure out your vision. Then recruit and hire talents with the capabilities, talents and culture to help you execute your vision. You have to decide who you want on your team.
Then, as the leader, you must allocate and prioritize the resources and capital to help your team execute that vision. When you’re micromanaging, you can’t do any of that because you’re too close to your business. You’re too busy focusing on the small details to see how all the little parts fit together. You have to step back.
Hold weekly meetings to check in with your team to get updates, and to manage expectations not tasks. You have to trust that you hired the right people, and they are capable of doing their work.
2. Don’t Say Yes To Everything
At the beginning of your entrepreneurial career, you have to say yes to everything. You have to say yes to every single client, every single email, every single meeting because you’re still growing. You can’t afford to miss potential opportunities.
But when you’re at a certain size, you have to start saying no.
You must realize you have a finite amount of time and resources. So as a CEO and founder, you must learn to prioritize.
With everything that comes across my table: investments, joint ventures, deals… I have to figure out if it fits with my vision or if it’s just a distraction.
Some things you can reply to, others you can ignore, but as an entrepreneur, you need to learn when to say yes and when to say no.
3. Never Stop Listening To Ideal Customers
As an entrepreneur, you’re here to solve other people’s problems and fulfill their needs and make a profit in the process. You cannot fulfill other people’s needs if you don’t know what their needs are.
You don’t have to be a marketing genius. Your customer is the marketing genius who will tell you what they want, what they like, what they dislike, and what they’re pay for. They vote with their wallets.
Entrepreneurs spend so much time working on their product or making it better that they don’t spend enough time listening to their customers. Are they listening to the feedback, or are they making something no one wants?
You could say that Ford Motors wasn’t listening to its customers when it was making a car at time when people wanted faster horses, but that’s an exception.
Disruption technology is a different thing because you’re anticipating the future needs of the marketplace by creating your own market. That’s a very small percentage of entrepreneurs.
Most of us are here to tap into the existing needs of the marketplace to make the most of our money. We need to pay attention to what our customers want.
4. Don’t Just Focus On Revenue, Focus On Profit
One of the biggest mistakes in the early part of my career was I was focussed on generating more revenue to solve all my problems. This is not the best plan though because you cannot go to the bank and deposit revenue.
You need to look at how much profit you’re making. What’s your take home pay? How much cash do you have in reserve? So you should make profit into a habit. If you have profit, your business is growing.
Let’s say you’re making $5 million in revenue, and you scale it to $10 million. Are you making more profit?
Hard to tell without having all the numbers. Your profit may not grow exponentially because profit has to do with your profit margin, which includes your overhead and expenses. It’s possible when you scaled your business, you needed to invest in more equipment, and that affected your profit.
Sometimes entrepreneurs are overly optimistic. Instead of making more revenue, you could have made less profit because you spent more on marketing, or you just hired more people, or invested in new equipment. So looking at the revenue without looking at the profit is dangerous.
5. Never Stop Learning
Until this day I still read two to three books a week. I’m just as dedicated to learning as I was when I didn’t have money.
When I’m driving, when I’m working out, I’m listening to a podcast about successful entrepreneurs. Even when I’m working, answering emails, or checking on social media, I have education programs playing in the background.
It’s not how much I know, it’s how fast I learn. To stay competitive today, you need to grow. Ignorance is not bliss. It’s risking poverty and devastation. What you don’t know will cost you, so you need to keep learning, growing, and reinventing yourself.
Summary of What Smart Entrepreneurs Never Do
There it is. Five things that smart entrepreneurs will never do:
- Never micromanage
- Don’t say “yes” to everything
- Never stop listening to ideal customers
- Don’t just focus on revenue, focus on profit
- Never stop learning
What you accomplished in the past doesn’t count. It’s the present moment and where you’re going in the future that matters.
Plant a tree today, and you’ll enjoy the shade tomorrow.
What is one thing you will stop saying “yes” to so you can increase your daily productivity? Comment below.