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Entrepreneurial Insight from Business Innovation Experts - Part 5

August 05, 2016

In honor of I4E Tech Week, we caught up with our I4E Business Innovation Experts.

In honor of Innovations 4 Entrepreneurs (I4E) Tech Week, we caught up with our I4E Business Innovation Experts and asked them a series of questions about business and entrepreneurship. Today, our respondents share the most important lesson they’ve learned as a small business owner or entrepreneur. They also provide tips on finance. For part four in our “Entrepreneurial Insight” series, click here.

What is the most important lesson you’ve learned as an entrepreneur?

Orly Zeewy, Brand Architect, says:

Make sure you’re building in personal time into your business. Down time is critical to creativity plus it’s hard to stay motivated if you don’t stop once in a while and step back. It will also help you gain perspective. If you can’t build in time for yourself, maybe it’s time to bring in help. The myth of the billionaire entrepreneur who works 70-80/hour weeks for years and is healthy, wealthy and happy, is just that, a myth.

Anita Campbell, CEO, Small Business Trends says:

Don't compare yourself to famous entrepreneurs and billionaires, because it may make you feel inadequate. Draw inspiration and lessons from them, but don't compare. Too often I go to conferences filled with celebrities such as internet billionaires who don't share practical guidance, and end up feeling disheartened by the experience. Look only to successful role models and celebrities with real advice and guidance to share. To be successful yourself, you have to feel positive and feel successful. Protect your frame of mind and your attitude. Your attitude drives so much in business!

John Jantsch, Founder, Duct Tape Marketing says:

Delegate – you can't and shouldn't try to do it all.

Robert Irvine, Restauranteur, Celebrity Chef and Entrepreneur, says:

Nothing is impossible.

Charles Sacco, Assistant Dean of Strategic Initiatives, Charles D. Close School of Entrepreneurship says:

Versatility is key. The more versatile you are, the more you can do on your own, helping you to conserve cash. You’ll also better learn what roles you don’t want to do in the future and where you’ll eventually want expert help. Taking on more roles in the business in the early days can also help you make better hiring decisions down the line.

Brian Meece, Entrepreneur and Co-founder of RocketHub says:

Collaborate and have fun! I develop new ideas for my businesses in a way similar to how I create with my band. First I come up with a catchy new “theme” or endeavor, then I get core support in evaluating what we have. We’ll “play it” a few times – often brainstorming with a whiteboard, or even collaborating outside of the office environment, like a coffee shop or city park.

This process gives everyone working on the new project a feeling of ownership – then we add a phrase or bump the beat (conceptually speaking, of course!).

Now if the idea is any good, the rest of “the band” will not only get behind it, they’ll become raving fans because they helped turn it into something real.

What advice do you have for small business owners and entrepreneurs when it comes to finance?

Orly Zeewy, Brand Architect says:

Don’t try to do the finances on your own (even if you have an MBA and are a financial whiz). A good accountant and bookkeeper are key to providing an objective and accurate read on how your business is doing and can help you stay focused on growing your business.

Anita Campbell, CEO, Small Business Trends says:

Whatever it takes, keep your books up to date! And run reports from your accounting system so you know your business's financial situation intimately!

For the first couple of years in business, like too many business owners, I relied mostly on my bank account. If I had money in the bank, I figured I was doing good. Sound familiar?

Managing by bank account may get you by when your business is very small and young. But it's a recipe for disaster as you grow. Soon the volume of money going in and out of your business will be such that you can't rely on your bank balance. And to be strategic you need more forward visibility.You need reports and forecasts. Without those it's like driving a car at night without headlights. Sooner or later you will crash.

John Jantsch, Founder, Duct Tape Marketing says:

Get help! Depending upon your background this may or may not be a place you have expertise. Outsource it unless it's a primary part of your service offering, i.e.: you're an accountant. But don't abdicate – get finance help but demand education and ways to use the numbers to run your business. Teach everyone in your organization about what it costs to find and serve a customer.

Robert Irvine, Restauranteur, Celebrity Chef and Entrepreneur, says:

People get into the restaurant business thinking it’s going to be easy. It’s not! Restauranteurs need to understand business principles — how to budget and how to use money. For success, they need to focus on finances and how to manage them.

Charles Sacco, Assistant Dean of Strategic Initiatives, Charles D. Close School of Entrepreneurship says:

Cash is king (or queen!). You must do everything you can to use cash wisely and to be as capital efficient as possible. When you run out of cash, you run out of options.

Brian Meece, Entrepreneur and Co-founder of RocketHub says:

Know your funding options and read the fine print. There are a variety of ways to raise funds for a company, including a whole slew of crowdfunding options. There is no silver bullet or one size fits all solution, be so aware of where you are in your business life-cycle and choose options appropriate for that phase.

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