In times of economic uncertainty, businesses are looking for advice on how to survive the downturn. We asked our expert panel the best piece of business advice they had ever been given.
Sharon Williams, MD, Taurus Marketing
A business mentor, Murray Baker of SmartOpinion, told me early on when I founded my business, that if the company wasn’t making an annual profit (within a reasonable time period) I was running a charity, not a business! He reminded me I was in business to make hard cash and instructed me to have a finger on my business’ financial figures at all times. He recommended I receive my Profit and Loss, Balance Sheet, Accounts Receivables and Accounts Payables by the fifth of every month so I would run my company and be in control of decisions by the book, not by the heart.
He pointed out that if you are viewing your accounts every two-to-four weeks, you have the opportunity to spot mistakes early on like invoices or payments missed, costs wrongly allocated on your profit and loss etc. It was the most valuable advice I received. I found an outsourced bookkeeping service to help me so I could focus on growing the business. Through all the passion I have for my business, the figures never lie.
Kristina Karlsson, founder, kikki-k
My best piece of advice was to do something you’re really passionate about. You’re going to need to invest considerable energy and time into it, so make it something you really enjoy. And create a crystal clear vision of what you want to achieve. Your vision will guide your decision-making, so when times get tough, your vision has to be strong enough to pull you through.
Adrian McFedries, MD, DC Strategy
The best piece of business advice I was ever given was don’t try and be all things to all people. Make sure whatever you choose to apply yourself to, be the very best at it or find another activity.
The underlying premise of this advice in practice has created an ability to understand the need to create ideas and direction but ensure the attention to detail is of a very high standard and extremely consistent. The harsh reality is most businesses and operators fail to reach their potential due to poor execution, ill discipline or plain sloppiness rather than for any lack of idea or ability.
Mary Henderson, founder and CEO, GeekIT
Starting a new business is fraught with challenges, especially trying to win deals away from larger more established players. However I always remember a piece of advice one of my mentors told me. He said: “Focus on what you have, not what you don’t have and always stay passionate about what you do.”
All too often start-ups focus on what they don’t have, such as large infrastructure and teams and look at this as a factor limiting their potential. However the real value lies in their initiative and passion. My mentor told me that he never judged his suppliers by their size; what he was more interested in was the business owner and their attitude and commitment.
So always remember passion and enthusiasm sell. If you do not believe in yourself and your business, no one else will.
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