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Though life is generally tough, the toughest day of our life (I think), was the day we first landed here on earth.

So it is as the first-time entrepreneur. You don’t know what it means to run a business. You don’t know what could happen with your investment and life. You’re confused.

I know this because I’ve been there before. July 24th, 2008 was the day I went fully into the business world, so I understand how it feels.

From there till now I have learned so many things and I want to share with you 21 tips that would help you to navigate through the tough world of business.

Let’s go in!

1. Understand business is NOT a job

Well, maybe this is the right place to start. You have to understand that business is not a job, it’s a profession. In a job you’re only working to fulfill someone else’s thinking capacity (or you’re thinking, but very little). Now you will take up the responsibility of thinking hard and thinking much. In a job, most times, your actions are as a result of someone’s decisions. As an entrepreneur, your actions are the result of your decision (so much more responsibility) and you see, you’re always to be blamed for the outcome of your decisions, unlike in job where your boss could take the blame.

What do you have to learn from all these? You need greater strength to be a successful entrepreneur and make sure you prepare for it.

2. Be willing to pay the tough price

I once asked a friend, “what do you think is the difference between a soldier and a police man?” The answer is simple. A soldier paid more price to be a soldier, so he earns far more honor in return. The same thing could be said of an entrepreneur. A successful entrepreneur could be 100 times richer than successful employees. The difference is as a result of nature’s unbiased reward system. As a new entrepreneur, you must be willing to pay the tough price of the business world.

It took me 7 years and 7 months to have my breakthrough (by God’s grace). It may not take you that long, but don’t ever (ever) expect the journey to be easy. Be prepared and be willing to get dirty and fight hard.

But even as you are fighting on in the business world,

3. Never stop learning

Please, never stop learning. This is a knowledge-based economy. The more you learn, the more you earn. Most people don’t know why daily learning is very important for an entrepreneur so let me explain. You see, you have competition, usually tough ones. To beat these lions, you have to be smarter than them. It’s as simple as that. If you look around you very well, you’ll see some exceptionally successful businesses. What is their secret? Not more money. Not more land. But more knowledge.

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4. Manage your time very well

You’ll rarely see a successful entrepreneur who is not a great time manager. The reason is what I have told you earlier – you will have a lot of things to do, so much that you’ll probably work more than 10 hours most of your working days as an entrepreneur. You must be able to do away with time-wasting activities.

If you’re like me, TV may become your enemy. You may not have time for unnecessary gossip and complaints. But even as you’re extremely busy, make sure you;

5. Have time to make and keep friends

In this age and time, what you know is as important as who you know. Take time out to be with friends, family. Speak with people and learn from them. In fact, it would be better if you;

6. Make a lot of friends who are business minded

I have many friends who are as business minded as I am. I do call them, share ideas with them, learn from them, get good books from them, etc. This has helped my business journey, a lot. Don’t just stay at that, also,

7. Have a business team

As a first-time entrepreneur, this may seem a hard thing to do (and it is). However, it is worth it. Two are better than one, always. To start, you may not have formal team members who you have to pay monthly salary. You may just have some professionals who you meet regularly, based on what your business is all about. One after the other, till you have the capacity to build a strong team.

8. Spend some time alone

As a business owner, you have to be creative. Creativity and noise are enemies. Spend as much time as possible in a silent place. If this is not possible in your environment, kindly wake up an hour earlier than most people and take some time to think. And as you think, also

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9. Write. Write. Write.

Write down any idea that spark your mind. Not just the ideas,

10. Keep financial records

If you don’t, there’s no way you’ll understand the direction your business is heading. Has it ever happened to you that you got some huge amount of money and spent it and just after that you are asking, “What did I spend my money on?” If you don’t know what you’re spending your money on, you won’t know what you shouldn’t spend it on. Plus, the future investor (including banks) would need to see your financial records to know what they are about to invest in.

11. Be competitive

The name of the game is, you got it, “competition”. You have to get a competitive mind. You have to be aggressive. If you’re not, it’s only a matter of time before you’ll be pushed aside by your “enemies.”

Read This: How to stay ahead of business competition every time

12. Don’t mind the critics

Someone probably advised you against your decision to go into the business world. Some other people probably mocked you as you seem not to be making progress. The more you pay attention to these people, the less is your chance of success.

They are distractions, simple. They don’t understand your vision, nor do they see what you’re seeing. Because they cannot do what you want to do, they think you too cannot. Would you believe them? No! Instead,

13. Believe in yourself

You have lost nothing if the world around you doesn’t believe in you. You have lost something if your family members don’t believe in you. You have lost everything if you don’t believe in yourself. But why is it very important for you to believe in yourself?

Because you’ll be discouraged many, many, many times. You will make mistakes. You will fail. You may cry and mourn, but (if you truly want to succeed in the business world) you will have to stand up and fight back. This requires you to believe in your ability to succeed.

14. Understand the first 5 years

As I said above, you’ll make mistakes and fail. The sad news is that, it won’t be once or twice. It may last the first few years. You have to understand this. You have to understand that your first few years will not be easy. If you want to really have the strength to go through the horror of the business world…

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15. Aim to change the world

In my opinion, business is “commercial charity”. Yes, we’re making money in business, but you see, if money is your only motivation, you won’t go far. Truly successful business people are people who are angry about something and really want to make a change. If you aim to change the world, you will have the zeal to fight on, even when the road is rough. That’s why you’re always advised to;

16. Choose a business you truly love

You have to love it as much as you love your children. If you hate your business, how do you want to work hard on it, every day? How do you want to be excited about it to win investors? How do you want to continue in it after sometimes when boredom sets in?

17. Prepare for some legal battles

Sometimes along the line you’ll need to engage someone in a legal battle or you’ll be engaged. Prepare, even if only in your mind for now. Because you’ll have to meet and do business with different people, some dubious, others cunning, legal battle is unavoidable at the long run.

18. Marketing is the king

In the business world, it’s not really about what you’re selling, but about how you sell what you’re selling. There are thousands of companies in the world, hundreds doing the same business. Those who make it big are those who sell better (not usually those who have best products/services), so learn marketing. Read marketing books. Attend marketing seminars.

19. Leadership is also important

Very important because many of your duties as a business owner would be to lead. The better you’re at leadership the better you’ll be in building a successful business.

20. This is NOT time to live big

When you start making money, you’ll immediately be faced with the temptation to spend big. You better don’t fall into that temptation! Now is not the time to spend big. This is the time to reinvest your earning. Be disciplined!

21. In all see your business as a tool to help humanity

The more you see it this way, the better everyone is.

I wish you a good success in the world and war of business.

 

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Stephen Oloruni

Stephen Oloruni is a business coach and founder of AfricaBusinessClassroom, where he gives advice on how you can run a business successfully in Africa.

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