Whether you’re a seasoned entrepreneur or just getting started on your entrepreneurial journey, there’s always room to grow and lessons to learn.
I spoke with award-winning entrepreneur Ashley Black, founder of FasciaBlaster™ to share tips on how she created her multi-million dollar business. Here’s the advice she shared to help entrepreneurs build their own successful businesses and companies:
You can always scale a business once things start to take off, but it’s hard to rescue a business that’s over-extended from the start. Be strategic in the products or services you offer in the beginning, build a loyal following, and you can grow and expand from there. Black advises entrepreneurs to “do what you know, keep it simple, and don’t try to branch out too much or too soon.” Black’s strategy has always been to make small strategic moves that have a big impact.
Prioritize your health and wellness.
You absolutely must prioritize your mental and physical health if you want to achieve success and be able to actually enjoy it. Health and wellness have always come first for Black, and she credits much of her success to this practice. “I am not addicted to ‘the chase’. I don’t work until I run myself into the ground. Instead, I focus my energy on my vision and I work to inspire my team to help me execute with passion.” This keeps her grounded and focused on what’s most important.
Surround yourself with experts.
Don’t avoid aspects of your business if you’re not good at them or don’t understand them. Instead, surround yourself with experts who can teach you and educate you. That’s exactly what Black did in the early days or her business, and still does now when she’s faced with something new. “I did everything first before I turned it over to someone else. And because of that, I know all the ins and outs of my business.” Investing in learning always pays off. Think of it this way – if you pay someone to do something you’ll be reliant on them, but if you pay someone to teach you, you’ll be able to use those skills again going forward.
Be involved with every aspect of your company.
It’s important that you take an active role in your business. This doesn’t mean that you do everything yourself, but instead that you keep your finger on the pulse of things. Spend time working on the day to day operations, dabble a bit in customer service, and engage with customers on your social media channels. This will help you provide direction to your team and understand where you can be more hands-off and where you might need to be more hands-on.
Create everything with your customer in mind.
“I don’t really focus on what my physical, tangible product is. Instead, I focus on what the contribution is to the customer.” explains Black. Black went through an extensive journey to heal herself from a life-threating bone infection and lifelong pain from juvenile arthritis, and that inspired her to create a product that would in turn heal millions of people. Think of the impact your product or service will have on customers and use that to guide you.
Outsource what you aren’t good at, but maintain creative control.
You never want to give up full control when you outsource things like design, content creation, and social media. When building and growing a company, it’s important to keep the brand voice consistent. When you outsource something, think of yourself as the creative director. You aren’t the one doing the actual filming and editing of photos and videos, but you’re providing a vision and direction for them, allowing you to maintain creative control.
Be careful with funding and partnerships.
Choose your source of funding carefully. Each type of funding comes with its own set of pros and cons, and you need to take the time to think through and weight your options before moving forward. There is however, one thing Black says that you shouldn’t do – don’t give up ownership if at all possible. If you do have to give up ownership to get funding, buy it back as soon as possible.
Black also shares a word of caution for taking on silent partners. “People say take silent partners. Well, they may be silent in the beginning, but not when they don’t make the money that they’re expecting.” Even if the money is there, they can still be an outside voice trying to exert control over things. It’s important for you to be able to stay fully in control of your business, so evaluate any potential partnerships before making that commitment.
Don’t be afraid to break from convention.
There really isn’t a conventional path to success as an entrepreneur, yet too often entrepreneurs fall into the trap of ‘it’s been done this way before so I should do it that way too’. Black achieved success by doing things her own way, and recommends all entrepreneurs find and follow their own paths and ignore so-called ‘convention’.