10 Business Tips I Wish I Had Known

It’s only natural that with experience comes knowledge, and with knowledge comes the potential to further your business acumen. And build stronger connections, clients and tactics in the long run. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and your business can’t be either.

While there are tons of resources out there covering business tips aimed towards all kinds of audiences. Not all of them delve into what it really means to own a successful business. It’s not all about motivation and grit. Often, the 10 business tips you’ll find most valuable are those that think outside the box.

Whether you went to business school and ticked all those boxes regarding the predetermined and highly institutionalised ideas surrounding what it really means to do well in business (and how you get there) or not, there’s always more to wrap your head around as you grow with your venture.

Here’s our Innovationly overview of 10 Business Tips I Wish I Had Known, many of which you might find useful yourself.

  1. Don’t Go to Business School.

We’re not advocates of business school by any means – having not gone ourselves – as we now believe there are more innovative ways to learn business tips. Grasping the fact that business school isn’t the be all and end all wasn’t something I found easy when I was starting out, and this often hampered my confidence in building my own business. As you likely already know, confidence is absolutely imperative in any business, and the way I would sometimes suffer with imposter syndrome may have had a knock on effect on how I dealt with situations early on.

We’re not alone in thinking business school isn’t the bees knees, either. There are actually arguments calling for the concept of the business school to be ‘bulldozed’, with prolific lecturer Martin Parker himself admitting that of the 13,000 business schools on Earth, there are 13,000 too many.

All in all, we don’t think the traditional idea of going to business school is the best way to shape your understanding of how how to do business. It may actually damage your potential from the get go, as you learn those ‘cookie cutter’ tips from professors that have been out of industry themselves for decades. Business school courses are thus often outdated and fail to move with the times. Instead, we’d advise that you listen in to the here and now. Start from the ground up, and derive that valuable information straight from the mouths of successful CEOs – direct to you, the keen individual starting out.

  1. Your Customers Won’t Just ‘Find’ You’.

When first starting out, I explicitly believed that as long as your product was innovative, something new; that customers would come flocking. That just wasn’t the case at all, and it never will be.

You have to find customers instead, not the other way around. This is perhaps the most incremental business tip that I grew to understand. It’s fair to say that your novel product might have the potential to change lives for those that do invest in it. But whose lives are they in the first place? You’ve got to pinpoint your target demographic, the minute details surrounding where they live, how they work, the way they think.

You’ve got to identity, to find, to communicate with, and to encourage those customers if you’re going to get anywhere at all in business.

  1. Plan, plan, plan.

It’s tempting enough to take your initial idea and run with it. Inspiring and motivating, it’s this core idea behind your business that brings all the fun to the experience of starting out. But you’ve got to think deeper. Make calculated moves and detailed plans. You can’t jump in merely due to excitement (though we know there’s plenty of that), you’ve got to know exactly where you’re going and formulate a dedicated business plan to fit. This was one tip I wish I’d learned earlier, since the adrenaline associated with any innovative ideas that sprang to mind often clouded my judgement in how the plan was to actually work.

Any strong business needs a business plan. There’s no two ways about it. You don’t have to fret about making this a final copy, as it’s natural that things will need to change and plans will be amended over time. That’s all part of how growth works – being open to change and not too stuck in your ways.

Here are a few of my key 10 business tips for beginners:

  • Be realistic. Be factual, not speculative. You obviously think your plan is going to work, but this is a document that needs hard facts, not overly ambitious scenarios.
  • Do your research. Data is vital in understanding how your plan will work, so sourcing studies and analysing that key information will help.
  • Clarity is best. You can get carried away with over the top discussions on minor things, but it’s better to outline the core information and be clear as you do so. Stick to less than 20 pages long, or risk boring your investors.

Follow the above business plan tips for beginners, and you’ll be able to pull together a concise plan that makes sense.

  1. Don’t be Scared to Ask for Advice.

One thing I wish I knew when I started my own business, was the value in asking others for advice. It can be humbling to have to do so, but it can also lead to some lucrative connections with successful businesspeople that are willing to take the time with you in nurturing your own understanding.

The people you seek advice from don’t even have to be businesspeople at all. They can be those closest to you, your friends and family. Advice isn’t always about asking strictly business-related questions. It can be reaching out for some emotional support, asking someone’s opinion on something you’re struggling to decide on, or weighing up what they think about an upcoming plan to shake things up in the business.

Make those roots with your wider connections, and those closer to home too. This will help you in the long run, when somewhere down the line you’ve found yourself in a situation you just can’t figure out for yourself. Advice is often undervalued, but learning from others is not to be shyed away from. Embrace the opportunities and knowledge that can come your way, just by asking.

  1. Believe in the Potential of Networking. Act on it.

Networking is a crucial process for any business, whether you’re a company owner or career builder. This all feeds into confidence and the communication skills you might have developed over the years, both inside and outside of the business world. There’s no room to be shy about your business intentions, as you’ve really got to push yourself out there and get the word out yourself.

  1. Get Involved on LinkedIn.

We’ll say it again: get involved on LinkedIn. There’s nothing quite like it as a solid business connection building base, and this is something I just wish I had realised earlier. The potential is endless.

One of the best networking and business newsfeed tools out there, LinkedIn is innately popular with the types of business execs many of us aspire to be like. With over 55 million registered companies documented on the platform, you’re definitely missing out if you don’t put yourself out there.

A study by Hubspot even found that Linkedin is 277% better at generating leads for businesses than Facebook and Twitter. It’s just not worth missing out on.

  1. Keep an Eye on Your Competition.

Perhaps an obvious statement to make, but your competition should be wholly scrutinised if you want to have any chance in competing against them at all. It can be tempting to lose yourself in what you’re doing, and forget about the bigger picture. But in any market, you’re not the only one with a product to sell, and competition is often rife.

Make sure your marketing efforts are in line with what your competitors are doing. Ensure you’re covering a comprehensive range of competitive techniques and checking up on insights. Building an established brand that stands out amongst a competitive crowd is no easy feat, but with determination and clever manouevering of tactics, you can get there.

  1. Think Ahead.

You might think this falls into the planning aspect, but sometimes it’s impossible to plan the next upcoming innovation or trend surrounding your industry without thinking a bit deeper. While planning your business is a regimented and strict procedure, staying ahead of the curve is more creative. Stats still matter, but most importantly you’ve got to scrutinise what’s yet to come. The ability to keep on top of innovations before they happen comes with experience in running your business, and in understanding your market inside and out. It comes with staying informed about your competitors activities, the new kids on the block that might be set to conquer the market.

Trend forecasting like this is not an easy skill. It’s a technique to be honed over years of expertise, often without you even noticing your new ‘sixth sense’-esque levels of intuition emerging. It’s important to keep evolving – whether that’s product or processes – and to broaden your mind in considering new ways of developing innovations.

  1. Embrace the Power of Digital Marketing.

Beginning any business, you might be more fixated on real-world networking. And product development than getting your name out there online. But the fact is, a lot of our lives are now focused within the digital world. We instinctively rely on Google for the majority of questions that spring to mind. And to miss out on capitalising on this potential would be a huge mistake.

This was evidently a business tip I knew from the very beginning, as a digital marketing business owner myself. But time and time again, I would come across naive business beginners that just didn’t comprehend the raw power behind digital marketing as they were first starting out. After working with SMEs and business owners across the UK to broaden their outreach online, it’s been eye-opening to witness the way their online growth would skyrocket their businesses to levels of success they might never have fathomed before.

If you’re looking to invest in the potential within digital marketing, Acquisition Agency can help. Our dedicated team of business-savvy individuals are akin to SEO ‘wizards’, elevating visibility. And generating leads across a diverse range of industries.

  1. Keep Your Work-Life Balance in Check.

Last but not least, is the one tip that many business owners struggle with from time to time. Even seasoned CEOs don’t often manage to keep their work-life balance healthy. But that doesn’t mean you should overlook the benefits of keeping work and home life separate.

It’s too easy to become all-consumed by your business plans, and to an extent, that’s great. It shows dedication and motivation. It portrays the unwavering level of passion you feel regarding your next steps. But overdo it, and you’ll run the risk of becoming burnt out.

Stress is one of the major factors that leads to diminished mental health. It’s actually on the rise amongst small business owners. A number of business ownership issues have been worrying UK business owners, with 83% stating they had experienced stress in the past 6 months, and 1 in 10 admitting that the stress of running their business had led to a decline in mental health – though these numbers may be higher.

At the end of the day, no single business tip is going to guarantee your success as a business owner or aspiring CEO. Instead, it’s a carefully refined combination of understanding and intuition that will drive your business forward. You can’t get too consumed with short-term activities, you’ve got to think ahead and stay ahead of the curves that will inevitably come. It’s your ability to jump on top of those innovations before they happen, that will secure your potential for business success in the long run.

Bonus! – We took the liberty of asking our network of Entrepreneurs, business owners and innovation-seekers for a few of their top tips and this is what they have provided us with!

  1. Word of Mouth is a powerful means of business growth

Tony Hearn, of Cool Code Company Ltd, has stated that he has relied on word of mouth referrals since 2006 which is quite an accolade.

In his comment on our LinkedIn Post he has mentioned that sticking to three core concepts has allowed him to continue for so many years without any advertisement or marketing! 

Look after your clients

Charge appropriately, but do not rip them off.

Put your ego to the side and ensure you are giving the best service possible!

Very wise words indeed from Tony, and very helpful to any new entrepreneur wanting to start out in the world!

Tony is an expert backend website development specialist working with many clients underneath his relaxed, but professional company called Cool Code Company Ltd!

  1. Double the software development time!

Babita Devi of bStrategic has advised us that working in software, sometimes the safest thing to do is to add additional time on top of the software development time to ensure deadlines are being hit!

Babita is an expert at helping you to get clear on how to grow your business with a vision that impacts your bottom line and reach your potential!

  1. Get your vision and WHY figured out!

Harry McDonough, one of the original founders of innovative Green Futures Biofuel has provided a few helpful tips:

Entrepreneurship can get really tough sometimes especially when running your own business. Sometimes, that dream can be a blessing and a curse in disguise. The truth is, entrepreneurship can be a bumpy, rocky, unpredictable road sometimes.

I always like to think to myself when I start a project why did I start this venture/business in the first place and what’s really helped me out especially when things got hard was trying to implement the following:

  • Learn to say NO
  • Surround yourself with the RIGHT people
  • Don’t forget to celebrate your WINS
  • Take care of YOURSELF and HAVE FUN

These are some fantastic tips from Harry! Harry is an expert in startup support, business development, business strategy and smart city challenges!

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