Image by: Gail
By Dexter Lunde
Where would we be without the pioneers of business who were before us? Not only did they lay the groundwork for us to become successful, they are also available to lend us a hand – even if it’s only in the form of some wonderful advice. Below are some of the best words of inspiration from successful businessmen in various fields of work.
#1) Check their References
Scott Cook is the co-founder of a little company called Intuit (a business built to help small businesses). He’s very specific about who he hires, especially after 30 years at the company.
His advice is to ignore the opening spiel from a reference for a possible employee. All you have to pay attention to is the answer to this question:
“Among all the people you’ve seen in this position, on a zero to 10 scale, where does this person rank?”
Then ask the person why they rated that individual that way. “Why a not a nine or ten?” After that, Cook will often ask the reference for other people who can rate the candidate’s performance for their company. Cook believes that the further away you get from the person’s reference, the more truth that you get.
His advice reminds me of Dr. House on “House M.D.” He doesn’t trust his patients because “people lie.” At the very least they are overly nice in order to help the candidate.
#2) Be Aware of Your Actions
Bob Sutton is a professor and management expert at Stanford’s School of Engineering. His piece of advice is to “always be aware of yourself and your actions” because when you are in a place of authority, more people scrutinize your actions.
You want to be a good role model for your team members and employees and you also want to be a good image for the public.
The data says that leaders in business normally are responsible for about 15% of the outcomes but they get blamed (or get the credit) for about 50% of the work. That’s a big difference but that is also what happens when you are a figurehead for your own company. The company is an extension of “you” and your brand so you’ve got to be careful.
#3) Get Down and Dirty
“Don’t be afraid to get your hands dirty and never ignore the reality of your situation. Always be honest with yourself before you criticize others. If you can’t truthfully manage yourself — you don’t have a chance of effectively managing others.”
Jason M. Aubrey is an entrepreneur and business developer from Denver Colorado. He knows about small business problems. He knows about how to increase your productivity. He also knows that sometimes you need to get your hands dirty.
Being honest with yourself when things aren’t going so well is one of the hardest things you can do. However, if you accept that reality so that you can turn it around and make it better, it’s worth the heartache. In business, it is common to fail at least once.
#4) Sell Your Brand
“Sell what people are already buying – in your own voice.”
In this quote, Barry Friedman is talking about the ability to sell your brand to the public. Remember that you’re not just selling products. Products are available all over the world. What you really want to advertise is your brand – yourself. What part of your personality (or your company’s personality) can you sell to the public? What makes you unique?
#5) Expand Your Knowledge
“One thing? Never stop learning!”
What James L. Pearson is talking about is the expansion of knowledge. Learning new things helps build connections in your mind. That, in turn, will help you develop new ideas and find connections and innovations where you didn’t see them before.
The easiest way to keep learning is to read. You don’t have to pay for an expensive college course if you get the latest books that have to do with your market or in business. There are hundreds of books on how to stay productive, the latest business techniques and tips, and the newest technologies and developments in your field.
Don’t forget about magazine publications as well. Entrepreneur Magazine is a great source. Look for magazines that have to do with your market. There are magazines about everything these days. If you’re having issues trying to find a good print publication, turn to online sources.
There are some great sources for budding and experienced entrepreneurs (*ahem* like this one). You can find websites about any market on the internet: underwater basket weaving, shoe repair, stuffed unicorns, catering to business conferences, etc.
The key is to stay up to date with the latest trends and to keep reading to keep your mind sharp and new ideas flowing.
#6) Competition is Everywhere
“It’s a competitive business, but don’t give up.”
That comes from Dilbert creator Scott Adams who heard this advice from one of his mentors. This advice goes for any field, not just animation and comics. Even if you think that you don’t have competition in your field, think again. You may have stumbled upon something extremely unique (underwater basket weaving with bacon strips) but you will find that there will be copycats soon. And after them are others who believe that they can build upon what you’ve created.
What you have to remember is that there will always be competition in your field (whatever field that is). However, you can use competition as inspiration. Competition is what drives innovation. Without competition, there isn’t as much of a threat to build the bigger, better, and faster mousetrap.