World-renowned motivational speaker Brian Tracy has helped thousands of people reach their business goals. With more than 30 years running his own businesses – of which he now has more than 20 – Tracy has written more than 50 books about business, leadership and goal setting, and addressed more than 250,000 people.
The American was recently in Dubai to inspire leadership among CEOs, CFOs, COOs and senior management. We asked him for some tips for entrepreneurs.
What advice would you give entrepreneurs to give them the confidence to get started?
The most important thing is to start planning and getting some research and information. Confidence comes from knowledge and lack of confidence comes from ignorance and lack of skills.
The idea is just the starting point. Ninety-nine percent of ideas don’t work. When you get enough information you find out how much it would cost [and] what you can sell it for and you’re more likely to be successful.
How can start-up entrepreneurs remain motivated, especially during the tough times?
You should never embark on a new business venture until you have at least one customer. Eighty percent of your business time should be spent calling customers and making a sale. The biggest mistake entrepreneurs make is they get busy with little details and they forget that the number one goal is to make sales.
If you can’t find a customer that would buy your product then don’t produce it. This is very important.
And if their SME fails, how can they regain the courage to try again?
Failure is normal and natural in entrepreneurship; the most important this is to learn from failure. The way you learn from it is you ask two questions. Firstly, what did I do right in this business? Write down everything you did correct. Secondly, what can I do next time – what mistakes did I make and how can I improve on them?
If you do, this you’ll capture the lessons. If you don’t, the lessons will go over your head and you’ll fail again.
This is key to business. If it doesn’t work out, say, ‘well, it’s an experience, it’s a lesson’. If you don’t go through the learning experience most entrepreneurs fail over and over again.
What are your top five tips for new business owners?
You have to have an excellent product in the first place. The product has to be superior to alternative products in at least three ways.
You have to do your research. Business planning is a measure of whether or not you’re ready to be successful. If you can’t do a business plan then you should go work for wages.
Create an aggressive marketing plan to attract customers.
Create an aggressive sales plan.
Create a customer service plan to take care of customers once you’ve made a sale.
What’s the most important advice for new leaders in business?
The critical thing is to hire carefully and slowly. Think carefully about the skills that you need and the results you want the person to achieve. Take your time – you don’t have to hire the first time you meet someone. Hiring staff is a key measure of your efficiency; you can dramatically increase the quality of people you hire by simply going slow.
Is it okay to be motivated by money or do you also need to enjoy what you’re doing to be successful?
Business is business. If you want to play sport at a high level you play to win, that’s why you’re in it. If you’re in business, the definition of winning is making sales and profit; other parts of your life have nothing to do with it.
Fun is all nonsense - in order to be in business you have to be extreme. You can’t imagine a football player rolling around the field and having fun; they have to play 100 percent. You have to play your business 100 percent; you have to go full blast. Afterwards, when you’re successful, you can slow down and enjoy doing other things.
You started your first business 35 years ago and you now have more than 20. How have you managed to stay on top?
I started a whole series of businesses, one after the other, within my [overall company]. Before I started, I worked for more than 20 businesses learning various capabilities, so I had a lot of experience.
Then you just begin at the right time. If you have a good product or service and you have customers who’ll buy it, just begin. The critical thing is focus on marketing and sales, everything else is secondary.
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