What is the best advice for struggling entrepreneurs? originally appeared on Quora - the knowledge sharing network where compelling questions are answered by people with unique insights.
The first thing to do is figure out why you're struggling. There's a lot of reasons a business can struggle, but often times it's due to sales. As Mark Cuban often says, sales solves all problems.
One of the biggest lessons I learned in bootstrapping my own business was that you have to invest in growth. That's why it's so rare you hear of businesses succeeding without raising at least some capital or loans. When you're struggling, it's counter-intuitive, but that's when you have to spend more in sales. Cut costs in other areas, but never undercapitalize your sales efforts.
Investing in sales starts with yourself. You cannot be a leader of a company and not understand the sales process inside and out. The best entrepreneurs have sold their product and were the company's first and often times best sales person. There comes a time in the growth cycle, when the CEO or founder has to step away from sales to focus on other areas, but the company's leader should always have deep ties to the sales process and team.
Here are some other things to do:
- Create a don't do list. As the leader of the company, there's a list of things you should not be doing. Anything you can reasonably delegate or outsource, you should. When you become an entrepreneur, you stop getting to do the things you like to do and do the most important things to be done.
- Do the hard things first. Don't hesitate on having hard conversations. Prioritize your to do's with the things you least want to do at the top. Often times these are the most important to do. If you don't, you'll have a long to do list of things you don't like doing or don't want to do, and it will seem insurmountable. Then you'll hate your life, not want to get out of bed and your business will fail
- Hire the absolute best people you can find. Spend the extra time doing this. It's one of the biggest challenges businesses have. That's true from small start-ups all the way up to Google, but investing in right people team will be one of the best investments you make. Having the right core team will make the difference between success and failure. It can seem impossible to find the time to hire well, but trust me in knowing that not hiring well will cost you far more time.
- Get good at sales. You don't have to be selling, but you do have to understand the process. Meet regularly with the team. Understand their pain points. Set realistic and achievable goals and reward the high performers.
- Invest in sales. Make sure everyone on your sales team has all the tools they need. There are million of them now. Sales tools will have one of the highest ROI of any aspect in your business, so get the best ones for your team.
- Learn relentlessly. You don't know what you don't know. And if you're struggling in business, then you hardly know anything. Here's a problem that's entirely in your control and fixable. Learn every day. Everything from Quora to podcasts on business and entrepreneurship to books. Make it you hobby. There's never been easily access to information and learning. Have an area you don't feel strong in? Search that topic on Udemy and buy the top three courses and get to work.
- Stop trying to make money and provide value instead. If you can solve someone's problem, then they'll stick with you and they'll tell their friends. If you're solving one person's problem, then it's likely that others have this problem and you have a business, now you just have to tell people about it.
- Stop networking and sell. There's a lot written out there about how important events, meet ups and networking on are for entrepreneurs. And for those with the time, they can be great. If I had to pick getting good at selling or getting good at networking, I would pick selling every time. If you can sell, you will not fail. Cut out the distractions.
- Find support. Meet and spend time with other entrepreneurs. Businesses in all different categories tend to have similar problems and similar solutions. Share learning and become a resource to a peer group.
- Take breaks. Entrepreneurship is an incredibly stressful path. If you're the type of person that's drawn to it, you'll find it hard to get away from and hard to stop working. Take regular breaks. Don't work all weekend. Take one day off. Get out and exercise regularly. Take care of yourself. You need the rest and breaks to perform at your maximum. Otherwise, you'll fool yourself into thinking working 80 hours weeks is productive and eventually crash and burn.
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