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When I launched my business, my vision was clear. I wanted to create a company that put people and purpose ahead of profit. In doing so, I aimed to fulfill my passion to give back — to my team, my customers and my community. With a “Be better” mantra in my mind, I set about building an organization that would continually strive for excellence.
Becoming an entrepreneur can be a daunting undertaking, yet with the right mindset and a toolbox of best practices, it can be a rewarding adventure. As I reflect on what I’ve learned over the past five years, here are a few lessons for any entrepreneur:
1. Success is a team effort.
If you’re like most entrepreneurs, there will likely be a period of time when you’ll be chief cook and bottle washer. As a solopreneur or leader of a nimble team, you may need to have a hand in all business operations. After all, this is your business.
However, as your company grows, you’ll likely have to remove some of these hats and trust that the people you’ve hired and invested in can do the job as well as you can (spoiler alert: they may actually do it better).
Handing over the reins of your business functions to others is a big step, and it shouldn’t be taken lightly. Presuming you have solid hiring practices and have spent time investing in your team’s strengths, the delegation of tasks will be that much easier.
2. Invest in people, not profit.
Understanding what makes each team member tick can be critical to building trust, which takes time and effort. The good news is that it can pay big dividends because you’ll know that you have the right person in the right job and that they’re making decisions that are in the best interest of your company.
While a successful business needs to be profitable, the relationships you foster with your team, your customers and your colleagues may actually be the most gratifying. Whether you’re returning phone calls and emails in a timely manner, taking a team member out to lunch or mentoring a college graduate, you’ll likely reap rewards from these relationships long after the books are closed. In my experience, kindness always counts.
3. Build your humility muscles.
You probably became an entrepreneur because you had a passion and expertise that could benefit others. Even though you may know a great deal about your products and services, keeping your ego in check can be a challenge. While you know a lot, you don’t know everything. You may need other people to help you.
I’ve had many mentors throughout my career, and I relied on them for their sage advice and support long before I launched my company. I’ve also invested in relationships with my peers and colleagues, which has resulted in a group of trusted advisers that I can call upon when needed.
Admitting that you need help is often a sign of strength, not weakness. I’ve found that most people want you to be successful, and if they can play a part in it, it’s often a win-win situation.
4. Make time for yourself.
The life of an entrepreneur can be chaotic at times. Long days and lost weekends are a surefire recipe for burnout. In order to run your race, take time to rest as well as make your physical and mental well-being a priority.
Work-related stress can reduce your and your team’s productivity, costing your company money and time due to poor decision making. I’ve developed a lifestyle that includes healthy eating, exercise, meditation and ample time for relaxation. My team sees how much I value personal and professional well-being, and many have adopted their own practices.
You can’t give what you don’t have. If you want to be able to achieve your goals and set a good example for your team, investing in your overall health must come first.
5. Be creative in your endeavors to change the world.
From day one, I knew I wanted my company to make a difference. However, I also knew that I’d need to be creative in my social impact initiatives, as startups are rarely in the position to donate large sums of money to charitable causes.
By volunteering time to nonprofit organizations such as Habitat for Humanity, my team and I have changed the lives of local families in need of affordable, sustainable housing. Additionally, we’ve organized a variety of food and toy drives in our communities as well as supported a relief effort for a country impacted by a natural disaster.
While it’s commendable for every business owner to want to give back as soon as you open your doors, be realistic about what you can actually do. Every positive action you take, no matter the size, can make a difference.
Planning For The Future
As I reflect on what’s transpired in my business over the past five years, I’m both humbled and proud of what we’ve accomplished. It wasn’t always easy, but it was always worth it. Our team faced many unexpected challenges during our fast-paced growth period, but we stayed the course, and along the way, we learned more about ourselves, each other and our industry.
My vision for my business remains intact. With a strong team and solid business strategy, I believe that our trajectory of growth will continue over the next five years and that our toolbox of lessons learned will be filled to the brim.
In my experience, when businesses of any size put people and purpose ahead of their bottom lines, they never have to chase the dollars. The dollars always find them.
March 8, 2019 at 09:12AM
Forbes – Entrepreneurs