Being an entrepreneur means that you’ll often create your own path: No career guides, counselors or maps will guide you from one step to the next: You’ll have to make it up as you go.
Success or failure when you branch out on your own can be pretty precarious, and you will not always be clear about which steps to take next. Through his experience as an entrepreneur, David Burnie believes there are 5 essential things you need to know about starting and running a successful business.
1. Leverage your strengths
If you try to start a business in an industry you don’t know, trying to solve a problem that you’re not familiar with, without knowledge of any customers and what their needs are, it’s going to be very difficult compared to if you’re very good at something, you can take that and leverage it to build your business, and you’ll be much more successful.
2. Get out there and sell – if you build it, they will not necessarily come
Most people think that “if you build it, they will come”; if you create a great product or solution, customers will immediately come knocking on your door, and that’s just not true. If you want to be successful as an entrepreneur, you really have to be successful at selling yourself and selling your firm. And in order to do that, you have to build relationships.
3. Leverage your relationship skills – it’s a relationship business (coffee is your secret weapon)
My most effective weapon in growing The Burnie Group has been coffee. Going out, having coffee with people, building those relationships on a one-on-one basis. It creates trust, and ensures that you can leverage your relationships to sell.
4. Listen to your customer (work with your customer to build your product)
Listen. When building a business, you may have an idea about what you think people will want, but you have to be open to feedback. If you listen, your customers will take your initial idea and make it better, and you’ll end up with a product or solution that really meets client needs.
Too many times I’ve seen people who just have this idea, and they stick dogmatically to it even when it isn’t working. The most successful entrepreneurs are those who listen and react to what they hear.
5. Be LEAN – what do you truly need in order to build a business, build as needed/when ready
When I was first building The Burnie Group, my initial thought was “let’s put a whole bunch of money, time, and resources, behind marketing,” until Mandy, my wife, said “Dave, just get out there and sell projects. Put up a URL so people know you exist, but get the business going first, then worry about all the other stuff.” So, I would say relative to other mid-size consulting firms we’ve been very thoughtful about what we truly need in order to build a business. You have to be fiscally responsible, and so we’ve built incrementally, when we were truly ready to accept those changes, and that’s helped us to remain focused on the business and maintain financial stability.