Are you knocking out your to-do list, but struggling to grow your business to the next level? Tunnel vision and long hours might be blinding you to what your company really needs.
Fourteen young entrepreneurs from YEC share the single best thing they have done for their businesses recently. From taking a vacation to learning how to say "no," these are the actual steps that helped streamline operations and create new opportunities.
As you start to look ahead to 2016, see if these strategies are the missing links to your most challenging business problems.
1. Develop an online reputation.
Becoming a contributor to several major publications has enabled me to build a reputation, which means clients come to us. It has also led to many speaking opportunities and the possibility of meeting people I would never normally have been able to contact.--Murray Newlands, Due.com
2. Start being yourselves.
We're focused on helping our clients communicate with fans/consumers. When Jade and I started the business, we often went above and beyond to act "professional." However, that wasn't us. We are super fans, and once we decided to incorporate that into our pitches and company image, the company really started to take off. People knew we were being real and wanted to be a part of it.--Cassie Petrey, Crowd Surf
3. Take a vacation.
As the founder of a distinctive sock brand, a lot of our company identity is based on me -- my personality, style, likes and dislikes. After consecutively growing more than 100 percent year over year, my workaholic nature burned me out. The enthusiasm and unique POV I originally brought to my company had faded because I neglected to recharge. Now my several yearly vacations are mandatory.--Erica Easley, Gumball Poodle
4. Turn away certain business.
We used to try to win every piece of business presenting itself. This eventually led to us being a jack of all trades, master of none. We made the decision to cut a significant portion of our sales network and focus on three key projects. This was a daunting task, but it ended up strengthening our remaining relationships and increasing revenue. Don't be afraid to turn away business.--Drew Gurley, Redbird Advisors
5. Talk to your customers.
Businesses exist to solve problems faced by their customers. People start a business assuming that a problem exists, that they have a good solution and that people will pay for that solution. This isn't always the case. I believe that the most important thing I've ever done is to talk to customers, learn about their problems and to determine how much solutions are worth to them.--Jonny Simkin, Swyft
6. Network with other business owners.
Like-minded networking groups have been instrumental in my personal and company growth. Joining a peer networking group of other successful entrepreneurs gives you instant friends who enjoy discussing issues and achievements that we all have. Why not learn from someone whose already experienced what you're about to undergo for your own business?--Brandon Stapper, 858 Graphics
7. Accept invitations.
Once I started accepting invites to meetups, coffee, drinks after work, etc., my network increased massively and business began to flow from there. A good network improves all things: biz dev, hiring, product, PR and more. They improve when other people are talking to their network about you and your mission.--Brennan White, Cortex
8. Outsource your HR and accounting.
When I hired my first employee, I immediately found a firm to handle payroll and benefits management, as well as a bookkeeping firm. I've seen too many business owners waste their time on paperwork. By outsourcing those functions, I was able to focus on sales and scaling the business.--Mary Ellen Slayter, Reputation Capital
9. Purchase a great domain name.
We originally started with our website as interactivevoices.com, which is a mouthful to say the least. Desiring to change the name, I attempted to get vox, voxy and voxio.com. Having failed to acquire those names, I next considered a name simplification. We put in an offer for Voices.com that was accepted. Looking back, this was the most significant turning point in our company's history.--David Ciccarelli, Voices.com
10. Build a solution to somebody's problem.
Unfortunately, it's easy to start building something in search of a problem to solve. The best thing I ever did for my business was reverse my thinking and focus singularly on delivering a simple solution to a specific problem that people have. Too many people fail to focus on building a business around other people's actual needs.--Andy Karuza, brandbuddee
11. Learn to say no without regrets.
In the earliest stage of building a company, it's common to pursue and over-pursue every opportunity that presents itself. Often in this excitement, the focus of what the company should be doing gets lost, and the efforts to launch get derailed. Learning to say no is an art that needs to be mastered to ensure that your trajectory and focus aren't disrupted.--Reza Chowdhury, AlleyWatch
12. Bootstrap your company.
Starting LexION Capital with no outside funding was very difficult, but well worth it in the end. My company has a very specific mission, and it wasn't something I was willing to make any compromises with. You should ask if you want to answer to investors or a board of directors who can influence your firm's vision.--Elle Kaplan, LexION Capital
13. Hire an operations manager.
The best thing I did for my business was hire an operations manager and empower them to do what they do best. Like most entrepreneurs, I have a lot of ideas in rapid succession and am easily distracted. My skillsets were perfect for starting a business. Bringing in an operations person complemented that by providing me with someone who has the skills to help me run the business long term.--Vladimir Gendelman, Company Folders, Inc
14. Expand your team.
I always thought working alone or with a tiny team was the most efficient way to work. But after we raised money and expanded the team to eight people, I saw how much more could get done. It's helped us move forward so much faster.--Ben Lang, Mapme