By Mitchell Berk, CEO of Selective Search
Imagine you are sitting in front of a 2,000 piece jigsaw puzzle. The pieces are sized in various shapes and spread randomly across your table. Around the table are four individuals, three of whom can’t see the final product of this puzzle. The fourth is called an entrepreneur.
The greatest exhilaration and reward in being an entrepreneur is clearly seeing things that others cannot see, and instinctively knowing how to accomplish your vision.
The following are 11 key pieces of advice for aspiring entrepreneurs that have served me well during my 37 year career in starting and building businesses:
1. Have a clear vision.
When you launch your business, you must be crystal clear about what you’re trying to accomplish. How is what you’re offering unique? How does it compare with the competition? What will you do to implement your vision?
2. Believe in yourself.
If you don’t, no one else will. In fact, your conviction must be unflappable in the face of the inevitable testing of your spirit. “Positive energy breeds positive outcomes”. You can never show weakness or a lack of commitment.
3. Cultivate resiliency.
This may be the most critical trait of any successful entrepreneur. Getting beaten up is one thing you can count on. Get used to it. You have to forget about the pains of yesterday and bring all of your positive energy today.
4. Hire smart and committed people.
Hire for character as much as for qualifications. Then, when your Company hits bumps in the road, you can rest assured that the very best people are on your side.
5. Seek to develop innovation.
Innovation – particularly anything that can be patented or protected – will separate your Company from the competition, increase demand for your products or services, and increase your equity when it comes to thinking about your exit strategy. There’s no place in any business for me-too products or services.
6. Develop an advisory board.
You don’t know everything. Smart people surround themselves with wise, trustworthy, and experienced mentors who can lend their advice when it comes to short- and long-term strategy and financial decisions.
7. Strive to build operating profits and equity value.
While you may be focused on making money and maximizing profits, it’s equally important to properly develop your equity values. As an entrepreneur, you’ll make your decisions differently and you’ll operate the Company differently if equity value is a parallel objective to profit-taking from the start.
8. Don’t take any shortcuts.
You’ll never have enough budget to do everything you want, therefore you must prioritize what’s really important and execute it at the highest level possible. Otherwise, you will find yourself inefficiently and expensively re-doing parts of your business.
9. Understand that cash is king.
Your cash flow is what keeps you alive, and the lack of it results in shortcuts, bad decision-making, and taking on too much debt. All these things can be disastrous in terms of the longevity and livelihood of your business.
10. Make your good ideas scalable.
Make every decision as if your Company will someday be 100 times larger than it is. There’s a unique value to a scalable business model from day one.
11. Stay true to your culture.
In other words, do things that are consistent with your integrity, personality, and brand. Your internal culture is your brand. As businesses grow, they tend to get away from the root of why they were founded. By having a strong integral culture, you tend to be able to maintain the intensity of the origin of your idea longer.
Keep your eyes to the future, and enjoy the journey.
CEO of Selective Search Mitchell Berk is a successful business owner/operator whose entrepreneurial style combines creative vision with superb sales and management skills. Mitch is a charismatic and highly motivated individual whose passion and energy are contagious. Financially, Mitch is a bottom line executive who instinctively knows how to find efficiencies, leverage value opportunities, and deliver budgeted margins and profit goals. Mitch believes that success is a result of properly identifying the strategic opportunity, creating a plan to support the initiative, and managing its flawless execution.