One of the most successful entrepreneurs of recent years, Jan Koum (co-founder of the hugely successful messaging service WhatsApp), kept a hand-scribbled note on his desk when developing his product which read ‘No Ads, No Games, No Gimmicks!’
By focusing on simplicity and pure functionality, WhatsApp appeals to consumers who are tired of the targeted advertising and ‘big brother’ factor of other social media platforms.
Then, earlier this year, Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg bought WhatsApp for an unprecedented 19 billion dollars.
This may seem like pure fairy-tale to the average business person, but there is a lesson to be learned.
Starting a new business is an exhausting and often bewildering experience, but you are far more likely to succeed if you keep a clear head and focus on what’s really important.
Stick to a few simple rules and target your energies effectively. Use this every-day mantra and stick it on your mental desktop:
Plan, Rest, Outsource, Figure-out, Innovate… and give it Time
The day-to-day running of a small business is usually a sporadic mix of dealing with any issues that crop up and trying to attack your ‘to-do’ list.
However, the things you really wanted to achieve usually end up taking a back seat to the endless minutiae of staff concerns, technical issues, emails to return, inventories to manage… etc., etc.
It is vital to make time for proper planning – your business will not succeed without defined goals and action plans.
Set a specific time each week to dedicate to your long-term goals (even if it means delegating the business’ operations to someone else for that period) and stick to it.
A recent report, based on 13 existing European studies, published in The Lancet medical journal claimed that ‘job strain’ was linked to a 23% increased risk of heart attacks and deaths from coronary heart disease.
You’re not going to do a good job of running your business from a hospital bed, so taking care of your health is a must.
The report claimed that having a demanding job, but with little control over it was the killer combination.
Don’t let the needs of your new business overwhelm you. Take time to rest, reflect and take regular exercise.
You will find a healthier work/life balance will actually benefit your business, as you approach your work-load with a clearer, more focused mind.
If you own, or are planning to own a business, you are likely to be an ‘A-type’ person – someone who is very dynamic and more comfortable getting things done themselves than delegating.
This is great to a point, but if you find yourself regularly working through lunch (and the night!), there will be an inevitable burn-out.
Your business will run more smoothly and effectively if you outsource some tasks to specialist staff.
You may think you are saving money by ‘doing it all’, but buying in expertise will likely bring unforeseen benefits and help streamline your business practices.
It’s vital that you evaluate the state of your business on a regular basis.
Designate time to look at what’s working well, and which areas need work or investment.
As your business progresses, you will find that you will need to develop some areas (perhaps adding an accounting package) and hone down others (maybe you need to cut down on marketing).
If you bumble along, happy with the status quo, you may miss key opportunities for your business.
Many small business owners make the mistake of thinking that innovation is only for big businesses with established research and development departments.
But innovation does not need to be a complicated process. Nor should it have to be costly. It simply means looking for new ways to do things, or new products or services.
If you do not innovate, your business will do worse than stand still – it will fall behind others who are choosing to implement those new ideas, products and processes.
No new business is a roaring success from the outset. There will be days when you feel on top of the world, and others that seem like pure drudgery.
The truth is that getting things running the way you want them to will take a lot of hard work, determination and trial and error.
Be patient, stick to your mantra and who knows… you might have your own Zukerberg moment one day!