Running several businesses and working as a freelancer across multiple fields the past years has taught me a lot. It’s been a road of trial and error as well as experimentation. Lately, I’ve been asking myself which tips I would have given if I were to go back in time and meet my younger self. These are the things I wish somebody had told me when I was about to start my first business ventures: 10 tips about how you can become more successful, productive, and have more fun doing what you do.
1. Focus on providing value
Your focus should be on providing value to people, not only making money. That said, the more value you bring to the world, and the more people you are able to solve problems for, the more money you will usually make. This is why Bill Gates is one of the wealthiest persons alive. He has provided tremendous value to the world, and is rewarded for that. If you only focus on how to make people give you their money, your business is very likely to fail in the long run. However, as soon as you focus on truly bringing great value to people, your products and services will become better, your customers happier, and your business stronger.
2. Always think win-win
Whether you are negotiating a deal, discussing a collaboration or partnership, or developing a product or service; ALWAYS think win-win. Think about ways the other part can benefit from the deal you’re negotiating. When negotiating deals, make the other part WANT to close it because they are truly gaining something. When creating a product or service, make people genuinely want to use it because they will benefit from it.
3. Outsource accounting and business setup, legal work etc
Seek professional help when it comes to business registration, legal work, tax and accounting. These services might seem pricey at first, but they will likely save you lots of hassle and money, and prevent future unpleasant surprises. Make sure all these formal things are done right from the very beginning. Not only will outsourcing such work to experts allow you to focus on more important aspects of running your business, but they will likely save you tons of money in the long run.
4. Delegate tasks to virtual assistants
Delegate and outsource tasks that don’t require your focus. Freelance marketplaces like Upwork are great for finding for example virtual assistants who can help you with the day to day management of your business. Things you can outsource includes marketing, social media management, customer service, scheduling and administrative tasks etc. Outsourcing these things will free up a lot of your time, that you again can invest in doubling down on the most important parts of growing your business.
5. Find something you love
This is one of the most important ones. When you start your own business, do something you genuinely love doing. Not only will you enjoy every single workday much more, but you will be able to easily put in the hours required to make your business successful. Find something you can’t stop thinking about, something you can’t wait to work on every day. Being driven by strong passion will give you the edge required to cut through and grow your business to success.
6. Find something that suits your lifestyle
Don’t only focus on the money or finding a field that interests you. Try to create a business that fits well with your lifestyle. If you are a person who wants the freedom to for example travel the world, create a business that is flexible, and allows automation and location independence. If you are a very active person, find something that can help you stay active in your daily life and not only sit behind a desk. If you want to spend more time with your family and loved ones, create a business that you can run from the comfort of your own home. Creating a business that suits your lifestyle is incredibly important. I love producing music, but I would for example not stand being a full time recording engineer in a studio, with fixed hours and fixed workplace, simply because it goes against my lifestyle preferences.
Always experiment. Whether it is new business ideas, new product concepts, marketing strategies or anything else. Take an idea, test it, see how it works, refine it based on results, and test again. Run tons of experiments, see what works and what doesn’t, then refine them and try again. Thomas Edison had to go through over ten thousand prototype experiments before he came up with a viable commercial light bulb. If you want to find a successful way to do something, test out 100 or 1000 different things and eliminate what doesn’t work, while you double down on what works. To me, seeing most of what you do as merely an experiment makes everything much more fun, and takes away a lot of the fear of something not working out as planned. Which brings me to the next point…
8. Don’t fear failure
Thomas Edison is famous for his quote; “I have not failed 10,000 times. I have not failed once. I have succeeded in proving that those 10,000 ways will not work». As we mentioned in my tip above, failure is just a part of the experimental process. Don’t be afraid of what most people think of as failure. Your business had to close down? Then find out what didn’t work, and improve it, then try again. Use every setback as a way to learn and grow stronger, and refining your skills and knowledge more and more. Cause there is only two ways to fail for sure; Being too afraid to even begin, or to give up when facing challenges. Just keep on working, experimenting and improving, even if it is 9999 times, and you will end up with a success story like Edison.
9. Simplify Your Pitch
When developing a new product or business idea, try to narrow down the explanation of your concept to just a sentence or two. Try to explain the entire idea in just a few words. Try it out on a few people, like family and friends. See how they react. Is there a part of it they have trouble understanding? Then alter it until it works better. As I said in tip #7, experiment and refine. Having a strong, straight to the point pitch will help you a lot, both when presenting your idea to possible partners, investors, customers or just regular people.
10. Be adaptable
Technologies improve, industries change. The world is progressing at a rapid pace, and industries that were blooming just a year or two ago might be more or less dead in a few months or years. Flow and adapt with the trends and changes in your industry. Embrace the change, and use it to become even stronger. Don’t give up and complain when technological changes occur, that may damage your current business. Move on, find ways to utilize these new opportunities. For every change and every opportunity that closes, a new one arises. Adapt to the changes, and use them to become even stronger.