For many entrepreneurs, experience can have a major impact on the way they conduct business. Whether it’s changing a marketing strategy after an unexpected failure or pivoting a product after getting more acquainted with their target audience’s needs, leaders must constantly evolve alongside their businesses if they’re to succeed long term. This can also mean changing the way they interact with their customers, their employees and their peers on a regular basis.
As business leaders themselves, these 10 members of Young Entrepreneur Council have evolved in their own ways over the course of their careers. Here, they each share how becoming a more experienced leader has changed the way they speak to others and what impact this has had on their business overall.
1. I Treat Every Interaction As A Learning Opportunity
I've become conscious that every interaction is an opportunity to help people learn something new. I don't mean that a leader should preach constantly but rather give instructions and explain things so that it leads to a good understanding. This way of speaking has helped everyone understand the purpose of the business and their roles, and this leads to less confusion and better performance. - Blair Williams, MemberPress
2. I Take A More Interactive Approach
Humility is an admirable trait in leadership, so I use a more interactive communication style with others. I've found that people are more likely to listen and be receptive to my ideas when there's give and take in the communication. This change has positively impacted my ability to lead effectively, as there's better work collaboration and respectful relationships. - Tonika Bruce, Lead Nicely, Inc.
3. I Regularly Offer Recognition
I regularly give specific recognition for individual team members' strengths and the actions they took that exemplified those strengths. Additionally, by setting this example, I'm helping to foster a culture where the members of the team are encouraged to publicly recognize each other's strengths and show appreciation when people go above and beyond. - Christina Drake, Willa's Oat Milks
4. I Ensure Clarity Before Moving Forward
I’ve learned not to assume that people understand what I’m saying. Now, I ask questions and ensure my employees don’t just understand but are also on board with what I’ve said. Miscommunication and misunderstanding can create delays and added expenses as well as frustration and stress. When I’m clear and get buy-in at the beginning, outcomes improve. - Jonathan Prichard, MattressInsider.com
5. I Tailor My Communication To The Other Party
As I gained experience, I learned to tailor my approach to the person or group I'm addressing. The same information may have a different impact on someone based on their needs, level of knowledge and position (customer, team member, IT expert, salesperson or others). Before I speak, I consider what the other person needs and will best understand. - Kalin Kassabov, ProTexting
6. I Use 'We' Instead Of 'I'
I have learned to use “we” when describing all things—positive and negative. We are a team, and we function as a complete unit. There is no such thing as “I” asked you to get this done and “you” did not complete it. It’s more like, “We had a target to complete, but we did not get it finished on time. How can we correct this?” Speaking this way shows that we are on the same team and need to work together to accomplish goals. - Mary Harcourt, CosmoGlo
7. I Treat Others How I Want To Be Treated
Timeless values like treating others the way you wish to be treated become amplified when you're communicating as a leader. It's still possible to sound authoritative while letting the people who are giving you their time have dignity, even in the middle of a disagreement. The dividends this pays are a culture of loyalty and a sound, clear mind. - Tyler Bray, TK Trailer Parts
8. I Exchange More Feedback
I've started to exchange more feedback with my colleagues, employees and customers. While maintaining a balance of listening and giving advice, I've found that this has had a positive impact on my relationships with them, as it allows me to better understand their needs and concerns, and has helped to build trust. - Abhijeet Kaldate, Astra WordPress Theme
9. I'm More Direct, Candid And Concise
One thing I've changed about the way I speak to others is that I'm more direct, candid and concise. This has helped me get my point across in a more effective way. I have found that people are more receptive to my thoughts and ideas when they are being communicated in a clear and concise manner. - Kristin Kimberly Marquet, Marquet Media, LLC
10. I Speak Less And Listen More
My experience has taught me to be a better listener. So, I prefer to speak less and listen more to what others have to say. This has had a huge impact. When you listen to others, they feel valued and experience a sense of belonging, whether they’re colleagues, employees or customers. Being a good listener helps you earn trust, build rapport and acknowledge lasting relationships. - Jared Atchison, WPForms
Image: COURTESY OF THE INDIVIDUAL MEMBERS
We can feel that the economy is slowing. Perhaps, as many analysts predict, we are even headed into a recession. Venture capitalist and private equity firms are putting less capital to work in 2022 and fund-raising for entrepreneurs is getting difficult and going to get worse. But as we know, startups and small businesses are fundamentally different from larger companies. And as such, recessions affect them differently.
Unlike large, global corporations, smaller businesses don’t typically have the diversity of revenue streams to help them stay afloat early in recessions. Similarly, they don’t always operate on the same quarterly and annual budgeting plans but instead tend to rely more heavily on month-to-month cash flow, which means they feel the hit faster than some larger companies.
But the good news is that smaller actions yield bigger results in terms of reforming the company and creating resilience in the face of adversity. What’s more, many small businesses have strong relationships with their customers and communities, a loyal fanbase that might be willing to stick with the business through thick and thin.
Let’s remember, in general, small businesses create between half and three-quarters of the jobs in the U.S., so they are an important economic driver in the aggregate. While they might have to make difficult cost-cutting measures during tough times, many of them are also likely to return to investment and growth when the situation improves. The key is making smart business decisions right now.
According to a McKinsey article from September 16, 2022, companies need to make critical adjustments to their businesses as soon as possible. Some of the most common include pricing adjustments and managing exposure to either one time or variable costs. Some companies might just take action on short term costs and that won’t help these companies long term. If we are headed for a more long-term inflation/recession environment over the next 12 months, companies should also be thinking about more structural solutions that not only manage costs but help build a stronger company with potentially new business strategies for both existing and potential customers.
Take a moment and breathe. The key, as hard as it may seem, is to stay calm and think in a rational manner. Employees and investors are watching and your leadership skills are now very important.
Review the business strategy. Together with key employees and potentially outside advisors, review your current business strategy to make timely adjustments.
Preserve cash. Cash is king and is the life flow of a small business. Preserve it as best you can by collecting money owed your business more aggressively, watching all costs and looking for ways to increase revenue.
Examine the business model. Review your current business model and see if any adjustments can yield benefits by either finding new customers, reducing costs or even creating a new product or service from an existing one.
Right size if you have to. You know that you have to take steps to save the business so if you need to make employee cuts, do it early and wisely. Your growth will come back once the economy starts growing again.
Review all expenses with a sharper eye. Take the time to review all accounts payable accounts…all of them. Save where you can without hurting the core business.
Look for revenue gains from existing customers. Look at your current customer needs and see if you can provide them with additional services or support. They might also be cutting back and perhaps they can consolidate more business with your company.
Plan for growth. Even while you are adjusting the business, you need to plan for the eventual growth that will come in the near future. Don’t be surprised or have no plan for growth as the economy returns as the upswing might be strong.
Many entrepreneurs start new businesses while also balancing full-time jobs. When there's limited time to work on developing a new company, you need to pick and choose what tasks to focus on first. Here, a panel of Young Entrepreneur Council members each share one task that should take priority over all others when you have limited time to work on your startup.
When you're only able to work on your business or side hustle part-time, what's one task that should take priority when you have limited time?
1. Building an online presence
One of the best areas to focus your efforts on when you have little time to spend on your side hustle is producing content and building an online presence. Blogs, videos, and social media posts are a great way to show people what you’re all about, even if you don’t have anything for them to buy yet. It lets you connect with people and reveal what drives you—your vision. Building a loyal audience will get your business off to a strong start. —Blair Thomas, eMerchantBroker
2. Prioritizing content creation
Since you have limited time, use it to create content. Content is king. It helps you climb the search engine rankings over time and gain traction on the respective queries that represent your niche or target audience. Content helps your business grow, and helps you gain the trust of your audience and build brand authority. —Jared Atchison, WPForms
3. Increasing audience engagement
One task you should focus on every day is improving audience engagement. You could spend hours building a website and convincing users to join your email list, but none of your work will amount to new sales if you don't consistently engage with subscribers and build rapport. When I was pressed for time in the early days, I'd spend a little time each day working on an email series or blog post. —Chris Christoff, MonsterInsights
4. Prioritizing new sales
Don't get inundated with administrative duties. Instead, work to aggressively increase your revenues so that you have more budget and cash flow to start hiring staff. This can help you scale, especially if you aren't able to transition into a full-time role with your own business. —Firas Kittaneh, Amerisleep Mattress
5. Focusing on tasks that will have the biggest impact
There are a lot of important tasks that you need to do when running a side business, but some tasks are more important than others. If you only have limited time, then you should prioritize tasks that will have the biggest impact. Some of these include marketing, doing research, and developing new products or services. By focusing on these tasks, you can help ensure that the business is successful. —Kristin Kimberly Marquet, Marquet Media, LLC
6. Providing great customer support
When you run a business, remember that keeping your customers happy should be your top priority. So if you have limited time to work on the overall business each day, you need to focus on improving your customer support. Focus on making your customers' experience with your business a solid one. —Thomas Griffin, OptinMonster
7. Improving the quality of your products
The quality of your products and services can make or break your business. If people love them, they will definitely come back to you, so work on improving them. —Josh Kohlbach, Wholesale Suite
8. Building strong partnerships
Building partnerships is one of the most important tasks you can focus on when you can only work on your business part-time. Strong relationships with other businesses and influencers in your industry can help you reach a wider audience, access new resources, and generally make your business more successful. Plus, it's helpful to have a supportive network to rely on when things get tough. —Sujay Pawar, CartFlows
9. Developing a schedule
One task that should take priority when you're working on your business part-time is creating and maintaining a schedule. This schedule should detail what you will work on each day and how much time you will spend on it. A schedule will help you make the most of your limited time and help you progress on your business goals. It also can help to keep you accountable to work on your business. —Syed Balkhi, WPBeginner
Image redit: GETTY
Whether you're just starting or working towards your business goals for years, this guide will help you reach your full potential.
Starting and growing a business can be daunting, especially if you have no industry experience. In this guide, we'll introduce you to the essential steps you need to take to build a successful business. From identifying your target market to creating a solid marketing strategy, we've got everything covered. There are many factors to consider when starting a business, from developing a product or service to building a team and marketing your company.
Building a successful business is no easy feat. It takes hard work, dedication and a bit of luck. However, there are certain things that you can do to increase your chances of success. First and foremost, you need to have a strong business plan. This should include a clear vision for your company and realistic financial projections.
Additionally, it's important to surround yourself with a good team of employees, partners and advisors. They will be the ones who help you turn your vision into reality. Don't be afraid to take risks. Even the most successful businesses are built on a foundation of calculated risks. So, if you're feeling ambitious, don't be afraid to go out on a limb — it might pay off in the end.
Tips for starting a business
Anyone can start a business, but it takes more than a good idea and an eagerness to work. A few essential ingredients are necessary for any business to thrive.
1. Research your industry. Know your competition and what they're doing well so you can make your business stand out.
2. Create a strong branding strategy. Make sure your business has a unique selling proposition (USP) that sets it apart from the competition.
3. Get organized and plan for success. Set realistic goals and timelines for completing tasks, developing marketing plans, and expanding your company's reach.
4. Hire the right people and give them the support they need to succeed. Ensure that your team is cohesive while providing adequate training and development opportunities.
5. Stay flexible and be prepared to make changes as needed. No business is immune to change, so embrace it as part of the norm rather than something to be afraid of.
How to market your business
To market your business successfully, it's important to have a well-thought-out strategy. Here are some tips to get started:
1. Create a logo and brand identity. Make sure that your branding reflects your business' image and personality. This will help you attract new customers and build trust with existing ones.
2. Develop an effective marketing plan. Start by developing a budget and timeline for your campaign, then jot down key points you want to emphasize (such as price, product features, etc.). Make sure to track results regularly to make adjustments as needed.
3. Build relationships with key players. Network with other businesses in your sector and reach out to influential individuals. This will give you access to valuable resources and feedback that can help boost your business' profile.
4. Promote your business online. Use social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn to share news and information about your company with interested parties. Also, consider posting blog articles or creating video content that can be shared on popular sites like YouTube and Hulu.
5. Make use of print advertising. Advertise in local newspapers, magazines or online publications that target customers.
Managing finances and budgets
To run a successful business, you must know how to manage your finances and budgets. Here are some tips on how to do just that.
1. Review your expenses regularly. Are there any recurring costs you can cut back on? Are there any new expenses that may be worth investigating?
2. Create a budget and stick to it as closely as possible. This will help you stay organized and accountable for your spending.
3. Get creative with how you save money. There are many ways to reduce your expenses without compromising the quality of your life or sacrificing important aspects of your budget.
4. Understand your credit score and use it wisely. A good credit score can make borrowing money much easier, so ensure you understand what affects it and take action to improve it where necessary.
5. Make use of insurance policies and other financial protections available to businesses. These can protect you from unexpected events or liabilities, making running a business much more manageable.
Developing a quality team of employees
When starting any business, it is essential to have a team of employees to help you reach your goals. A good way to start building this team is by considering what type of employees will best suit your business.
A business can have three main types of employees: internal, external, and contractors. Internal employees are those who work for the company directly. External employees work for the company but are not considered part of the "team." Contractors are third-party workers who are hired on an as-needed basis.
When hiring employees, the most important thing to remember is to think about the long term. It is important to remember that your team members will be with you for a long time, so it is essential to make sure that you choose the right ones. Here are a few tips for selecting the right employees:
1. Consider personality fit. Make sure that your employees share similar personality traits so that they can work well together.
2. Consider skills and experience. Ensure your employees have the skills and knowledge necessary to do their jobs effectively.
If you're considering starting your own business, this guide is for you. We've covered everything from choosing the right business idea to building a successful marketing and sales strategy. We advise on employee recruiting and retention, financial planning and more.
Membership is open to businesses and organizations interested in increasing visibility and brand awareness in Westchester County and surrounding areas.