6 Business and Finance Tips From Successful Entrepreneurs

Successful entrepreneurs don’t become successful entrepreneurs by accident. Even if a couple did, there are still lessons we can learn from accidents of success. Those who have attained certain heights of business success have a lot to teach us. And the best way to learn is to learn from the best. Here are a few tips from successful entrepreneurs:

1.  Pay Yourself First

Two great lessons actually come from ordinary people. The first is from Neil McCarthy. He is a research chemist who started investing in the stock market at age 34. He increased his stock portfolio when stocks went down. Something about, “buy low, sell high” comes to mind. He also contributed to the maximum amount to his 401(K) and IRA. His employer matched 100%.

While not a business owner, he is worth modest millions. We are not told how he kept up with the market. But today, we have access to highly advanced data that can keep us informed and on track with our goals. By using the tools readily available, we can take his advice to heart: “If you wait to save out of what’s left over from your salary, it’s not going to happen. Pay yourself first.

2.  Customer Service is even More Important than Marketing

Remember Crocs? How about Jibbitz? How about Sheri Schmelzer: a 40-year-old stay-at-home mom at the time she and her husband came up with Jibbitz? Her idea was to decorate the money-saving crocks she bought for the family. It started out as nothing more than a craft project.

A little over a year later, her makeshift company was sold to Crocs for an initial $10 million, with another $10 million promised. There are so many lessons to be learned from her story. One of the tips from successful entrepreneurs she wants you to remember is this:

“If you have good customer service then your customers are going to talk about you,” said Schmelzer. “We didn’t do any marketing or advertising at all; it was all organic growth.”

3.  Supply Chain Ingenuity

Apple is considered to be the master of inventory management. Tim Cook, Apple CEO, former COO, is considered to be a supply chain genius. Apple does not believe in channel stuffing for the sake of optics: a common practice in the tech industry. Apple tracks products from the assembly line to the end user. When they talk sales, they mean sales to actual people. Quoting Tim Cook: “…inventory is not only evil but that it’s fundamentally evil.”

4.  Fail Quickly, Cheaply, and Often

John T. Peters, one-time CEO of Tripology, has gone from success to success. It seems that way because we generally only remember the most flashy successes of the successful. But he reminds us that failure is not only an option; it’s a necessity. Not every idea is a winner. In the startup culture, you have an idea, research it, and begin implementation procedures over a weekend.

You have to be equally quick to discard it when it proves to be a bad idea. As John is fond of saying, “If you’re going to fail, do so quickly, cheaply and often.”

5.  Real Writers Write

Neil Gaiman is one of the best in the world at what he does. He does not credit his success as a real writer to his education, life experience, or cleverness. Digging through his stacks of old writings, he noted how derivative it all was. And that there was no evidence that he would ever become a real writer, save for one thing: He was writing, and doing quite a bit of it. His advice:

You want to be a writer? Keep writing.

6.  There is No Exact Formula

I close with a hard-won lesson from yours truly. There is no formula. Everyone who succeeded did so through a combination of luck, skill, audacity, and 100 other ingredients that cannot be named or repeated by someone else. While you can learn from these tips from successful entrepreneurs, you cannot exactly copy the circumstances of their greatness.

But that is good news. That means that there are as many ways to become successful as there are people. Learn. Don’t copy. There is no pattern of formula for success. You can carve your own path. By doing so, one day, someone else will be learning from your example.

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