A Note to the Owner, Part II

By focusing on a handful of fundamentals—not only when you launch your business but as you grow it—you’ll be able to build a company that is both more profitable and more fun to run.

Volunteer. Give of your time both outside and inside your company. When you volunteer outside your company, it can keep you grounded. Frequently, you’ll find yourself in a room full of really smart people; people you can learn from. You also become more appreciative of the great privilege it is to own a business.

When volunteering inside your company, it sets an example for others to follow. Do this by taking on unpleasant tasks that others avoid. Ask what you can do to lighten someone else’s load. Don’t let your title get in the way of service to your own people.

Know your numbers. Business is all about numbers—financial numbers, operating numbers, sales and marketing numbers, even HR numbers. So, if you’re serious about growing a successful business, you have to be serious about your numbers. And the good news is that you don’t need to be an accountant or a bookkeeper to understand them. What’s important is to look for the stories behind the numbers and to understand that business numbers follow personal behaviors. So, whether your numbers are healthy or not, always look for the behaviors that led to them.

Don’t let your numbers intimidate you. If you don’t understand them, ask for help from someone who does (see below). If you do understand them, then offer to help someone who doesn’t (see above).

Keep things simple. Business has a way of complicating itself without any help from us, especially small businesses. Don’t complicate things.

Success in most businesses boils down to the fundamentals: hard work, disciplined execution, keeping your promises, and following through. Oh, and remember to earn more than you spend.

Ask for help. Every day that you walk into your growing business is a day you enter a world of the unknown. The challenges you face will be different from the ones faced yesterday. The complexity of running a larger business will add challenges you haven’t faced yet. Changing customer demands and heightened competition will test your resilience.

Don’t fall for the myth that the people in your company expect you to have all the answers. They don’t, and they will gladly help you if you just ask them. The same goes for family members, friends, other business owners, and even your competitors. Some people you pay for the help and some you don’t. But either way, it costs nothing to ask.

Take a break. You’re not Superman. Everybody needs a break to recharge their physical and emotional batteries and this includes you. There are no medals given out for emotional burnout, impaired physical health, or broken relationships that often result from burning the candle at both ends for too long. Don’t let that happen to you.

Learn these lessons early on. You’ll appreciate them later on. 

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