There's a lot of great advice out there for small-business owners and entrepreneurs about what to do to be successful. But what should small-business leaders stop doing if they want their companies to thrive?
Looking for an answer, the folks at the personal finance site GOBankingRates have pulled together 10 quotes from luminaries in the world of entrepreneurship and entertainment about why businesses--and people--fail. Here are five of the best, from some of our favorite entrepreneurs of all time. If you've been guilty of doing any of these things, time to cut it out!
1. Mark Cuban: Stop just accepting failure.
"I'm always afraid of failing. It's great motivation to work harder," the Shark Tank star said in a recent interview. Does that mean Cuban thinks failure is completely unacceptable? Clearly not. He's also said, "It doesn't matter how many times you have failed; you only have to be right once."
A look through his statements makes the lesson clear: Be just afraid enough of failure that it will make you work like hell--not so afraid that you won't take a chance on trying at all. And if you do fail, accept it, take it as a learning experience, and move on to the next thing.
2. Elon Musk: Stop ignoring criticism.
"Always seek negative feedback, even though it can be mentally painful," the Tesla founder told Investor's Business Daily. "They won't always be right, but I find the single biggest error people make is to ignore constructive negative feedback."
So next time you encounter criticism that's meant in a helpful way, take the time to give it some serious thought. If you feel hurt or belittled, let yourself get over that feeling and then ask yourself honestly: Could your critics have a point? Or are they uninformed? Either is possible, but without giving criticism its due consideration, you may never know which is true.
3. 5o Cent: Stop ignoring customers.
Besides his rapping career, 50 Cent is a successful entrepreneur who has founded both a record label and a clothing line. He has some trenchant advice for anyone inclined to go against customer preferences. "The public is never wrong," he said in a GQ interview. "When people don't respond to what you do, they're telling you something loud and clear. You're just not listening." (Here are four tips for building strong relationships with customers.)
4. Richard Branson: Stop acting like a big business.
"Big businesses will always try to crush small upstarts," Branson told ProfitGuide.com. "To beat big businesses, use the strengths of being small. Big corporations are impersonal; staff are often not treated well. At a small company, you can make sure your staff are proud of working for you, and then they'll work hard to be successful."
Treating your employees well and empowering them is only one way you can use small size to your advantage. You can also respond more personally and quickly to customer needs, react more nimbly to changing market conditions or opportunities, and build more of a direct rapport with all your constituents. Don't fail to use every advantage your small size confers.
5. Steve Jobs: Stop settling.
The late Apple founder built his unique career on following his own path no matter what. He thought you should do the same. "You've got to find what you love," he said in a Stanford commencement speech. "Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven't found it yet, keep looking. Don't settle."
Even if you're not the genius he was, that's great advice for anyone.