When it comes to succeeding at business, a powerful maxim or mantra can be motivating, especially once it proves to hold true. Here are several good ones to try on for size.
A lot of littles equals a lot.
It might bug you to see two "a lot"s in one phrase, but the wisdom is solid. Guitar and gear marketplace Reverb.com uses this philosophy even in seemingly mundane functions such as shipping, designing its own boxes, throwing freebies into shipments and packing items creatively--all little gestures that result in repeat business and new fans of the brand. "We found that the most frequent question buyers had for sellers was about shipment tracking. They wanted to know when they would get the product," says David Kalt, founder and CEO. "We realized that with just a few lines of code, we could proactively generate a tracking message that our sellers could then easily forward to their buyers before they're even asked.It's a little feature, but it can have a big impact on our customers."
The best things in life require the most effort.
Whether it's raising children, training for a marathon or bootstrapping an exciting but demanding new business, the most rewarding experiences in life usually aren't easy. As such, when hiring talent Suzy Deering, CEO of Moxie USA, looks for people who have a persevering, hard-driving spirit--folks who enjoy taking on challenges. "We want people that are coming in that want to make a difference in that they want to roll their sleeves up. They want to look at things and say 'Listen, maybe there's a better way to do it' and really get their hands dirty," she says.
Be the CEO of your position.
You'll hear this maxim frequently at the Chicago headquarters of fundraising website GiveForward because co-founder and president Ethan Austin believes empowered employees are inspired, proactive and loyal. He says the company's first employees were two interns who started with three-month gigs but then never left, even though GiveForward couldn't pay them until the year-and-a-half mark. "I think they were very interested in the mission of what we were doing, but then we also made it fun. We made work the place where they wanted to be."
The key to growing is listening.
In the past five years customers of Lionel Trains, a 114-year-old model train company, have been increasingly researching and buying trains online. As a result, Lionel began injecting digital features into the brand--from tech-integrated train sets to adigital media hub for all train stories. The company even produced a new line of products that can be controlled with iPhones and iPads. "The secret to meeting and exceeding customer expectation is listening, whether it's with consumer surveys or by monitoring the feedback you're receiving on social media," says President Howard Hitchcock. "Customers often share insightful feedback and recommendations that can help move your company in the right direction."
Two (or more) heads are better than one.
Silos within your organization are your enemy. "It's important to integrate different teams within your business to encourage collaboration among them. One team's concern may spark another team's solution, and if different teams and departments aren't communicating regularly with one another, there are sure to be a number of missed growth opportunities," says Rebecca Mahony, CMO atEbuzzing & Teads, a global video advertising group. "When teams can speak and think freely is when the most groundbreaking ideas are formed."
Start before you are ready.
Many entrepreneurs hold back on launching because they want a perfect product or service when in reality, the sooner you make a mistake, the faster you can fix it. Jenny Vance, president of the B2B lead generation company LeadJen, knows this firsthand. After 10 years growing the company, Vance had an idea for an unrelated business. "When developing the idea I had for a new social network, I was focused on creating the best user experience possible before launching it, when I should have launched the idea and let users guide my product development. Looking back, I wish I would have spent half the time and money on my MVP (minimum viable product) because my early adopters would likely work through challenges with me," she says.
Do not worry about your life, about what you will eat or drink...
Here's the rest of the bible verse: "Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap and gather into barns, yet your Heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?" It's a great tool for purging worry and particularly fitting for No Taste Like Home, an Asheville, North Carolina, company that gives wild food adventure tours in which participants forage for wild mushrooms and other edibles which get cooked up for them at a local restaurant. "We live in a consumer culture where everyone is looking out for number one. But that actually doesn't make for good business," says No Taste Like Home director Alan Muskat. "If I am always focused on getting something from someone else, I'm not going to form a very good relationship. By taking advantage of someone, I might eat for a day, but I won't eat for a lifetime. We teach people that we live in an abundant world where there really is enough for everyone if we focus on sharing."
Never forget what you stand for.
It's a niche, for sure, but CelebriDucks has sold more than a million celebrity rubber ducks while being featured on countless TV shows, magazines, and newspapers including The Tonight Show. But instead of manufacturing the duckies overseas CelebriDucks President Craig Wolfe wanted to make them in the U.S. "I got so tired of seeing the whole country outsourced," he says. "I took my biggest risk, trusted my intuition, and brought the whole rubber duck industry back to America where the rubber duckie was invented before the whole industry went overseas." The result? The company is in the black and now makes the floating novelties for big names such as Harley-Davidson and The Future Farmers of America.
The middle of the road is where you get run over.
Leap Public Relations urges its clients to stay true to themselves and their positions without being rude, sensational or presumptuous--rather, just true. "The people who don'tagree would not support you anyway," says Principal Merredith Branscombe. "And the people who do agree may support you even more strongly as part of your community."