I highly doubt that you need over 10 years’ experience in an industry just to share the lessons you’ve learned, if that’s the case, I’m breaking that culture. I’ve been an entrepreneur for 2 years now, but the lessons I’ve learned during these years are probably enough for me to even write a book about it, ha-ha. I have developed a lot since the day I got into entrepreneurship, intellectually, emotionally you name it. These lessons came from networking with people, experiences, google, YouTube, social media, books and all the other sources I’ve come across.

I felt the need to write this article because I have also learned some of these lessons from other people’s mistakes and stories. Today my business is turning 2, I will be updating this article as I learn new lessons, you might as well bookmark it if you weren’t planning to, so it doesn’t get lost in your search history (that’s if you’re a first time visitor to my blog, I am crossing fingers that you come back though). Let’s get to it, here are my 10 major business lessons:

1. Know your business like you know yourself

When I first heard this, it didn’t make sense. Until I attended a business event where I had to market my business in 60 seconds. Know your business to a point that if you had to be randomly selected at a big business conference to present about it for 3 minutes, you wouldn’t panic. Sounds impossible but it isn’t. Know the why’s and how’s of your business. You started it after all.

2. Never stop developing yourself

You’re never developed enough, you have to keep developing yourself, not only as an entrepreneur, but as a person. With almost everything going digital now, it’s not even that hard to be informed and skilled, you can do most things from the comfort of your home. Do online courses to develop skills you don’t have; it will benefit your business or might benefit you in the future.

3. If you don’t network, you might as well close your business

I’m not trying to exaggerate, but really, if you don’t enjoy meeting likeminded people (at events, workshops, conferences etc) just to hear them out and mostly speak about what your business is about, forget it. No one is denying the fact that the digital space is growing and taking over, but networking in traditional methods hasn’t (that’s if it’ll never) grow old. My coach told me how his business grows from all the networking he does, instead of digital and social media advertising. Meet people and talk about your business, I can easily forget a business I saw when I scrolled on my twitter feed, but I barely forget a business someone introduced to me at an event, workshop or conference.

There are free events, you don’t necessarily have to pay to attend events. Commit yourself to attending at least 2 or 3 events every month, it’ll make a huge difference in your business. Don’t forget to take your business cards with you wherever you go.

4. If you don’t love selling, teach yourself how to

A business is a business because it sells something, could be a service or a product(s). My business is a digital magazine, we sell content and advertising, if I didn’t make effort to go out and start selling, I’d have ended up closing operations. We are not all born with the love for selling, we teach ourselves how to. Honestly, I don’t like selling, who on earth likes the feeling of bothering people or the fear of rejection? No one. But for your business to succeed, you must know how to sell. Take e-courses and read relevant books if you have to.

5. Research

Nothing is as embarrassing as preaching or doing something false when you could have done your research and did it right. Make it a habit to research things, aligning with your business or whatever it is that you want to do.

6. Collaborate

  • “No man is as island”
  • Collaborations are powerful, you don’t have to do everything alone all the time, find brands or individuals that align with what you want to achieve. Collaborations expand your reach and can teach you a thing or two you didn’t know before, so don’t look at the word ‘collaborate’ with a selfish eye, it could do good for your business. I’ve grown my network through collaborations, I’ve got nothing but praises for this method.

    7. Have a good customer service

    Who’d agree with me when I say “the customer is always right” is such a frustrating rule? In as much as it does annoy me, I’ve learnt that it means more than just those words. News travel fast, a good customer review on your website or social media can boost the brand’s image, but a bad public review? That could have your brand shaking for the longest time. So, maintain a good customer service, a few pointers?

    – respond to emails or social media DMs in time,

    – be patient,

    – put yourself in the customer’s shoes,

    – give discounts, refunds or freebies to customers who complain about your service

    – most importantly, fix what the customer complains about.

    8. NDA – The elephant in the room

    An NDA is a Non-Disclosure Agreement. Honestly, bringing this up shouldn’t be an issue because it protects all parties involved. But I’ve come to the realization that most start-up entrepreneurs fear talking about it, especially when working with established brands/individuals. Your business is your baby, you’ve got to protect it at all costs, even if it means stepping on a few toes. Remember that it’s business, not personal. A good businessperson will not take offense just because you’re asking them to sign it. Have an NDA drawn up to keep your business safe, that way you’re liberated to share the details about your business to potential sponsors/investors/partners, when it’s necessary.

    9. Be financially disciplined

    It’s unfortunate that we don’t get to be taught about financial wellness and education in school, but this should be a compulsory subject cause it’s affecting us. You’ve got to know how much your business is making and spending. Often times we as entrepreneurs tend to take our finances lightly. Just because your business isn’t making millions, doesn’t mean you should be negligent. I believe that if you can manage a R1000, you damn well can manage a R100 000, it’s all down to the attitude you have towards money/finances.

    10. Good communication skills

    Communication is the foundation of every relationship, especially in business. You’ve got to know how to communicate, with your team and everyone else. There shouldn’t be uncertainty or confusion caused by your lack of communication, it’s not rocket science, you teach yourself how to communicate with people.

    What have you learnt in business? Share with me in the comments section!