The best business advice you've ever been given

Susie Parker
Digital Marketing Manager | Business West
17th October 2013

As we progress in business, we occasionally cross paths with inspirational people who pass on pearls of wisdom that help to motivate us in turn to develop and succeed.

We're looking to gather the best pieces of business advice out there, so let us know what has inspired and guided you? 

Some of our directors, managers and advisers share a few of their own gems below:-

"Never give up!"

Don't be put off running a small business by the constant stream of challenges and near misses because that's just what being a SME is; surviving a succession of near terminal episodes battle hardens you into making a successful business. 

This can be aptly illustrated by a quote from Vincent Van Gogh. 'The fishermen know that the sea is dangerous and the storm terrible, but they have never found these dangers sufficient reason for remaining ashore.'

(Phil Smith, Managing Director)

"Enthusiasm makes the difference"

'Attitude is a little thing that makes a big difference' Winston Churchill once said. In business this is true; having an enthusiastic team is key to achieving motivation, productivity and innovation. But it is not easy to obtain. Business leaders and managers must 'walk the talk' by showing their own passion and enthusiasm alongside vision and direction to capture the hearts of their workforce.

(Clive Wray, Director of Public Sector Contracts)

"Keep up the pace"

Don't hold off what you can do today till tomorrow. Keep up the momentum and get things done. As Mario Andretti said, 'If you have everything under control, you're not moving fast enough.'!

(Tara Gillam, Ready for Business Programme Manager)

"A goal is a dream with a date on it"

'If you don't know where you are going, any road will get you there' the saying goes, but setting goals and planning is vital if you do know where you want to go and, importantly, want to be successful. However, you will undoubtedly encounter a few bumps and bends on that road and so you and your plan must also be prepared to adapt and evolve along the way.

To help keep you on track, follow this simple approach: plan the work, then work the plan!

(Dev Chakraborty, High Growth Business Coach, Marketing Specialist)

"Recognise the skills you lack"

"51% of a great business is better than 100% of something average!" A business owner or leader should  always understand and know their own personal strengths and weaknesses and then "bring/buy in" the skills that are lacking to create a winning team, be that a board of directors/shareholders or establishing trusted suppliers with the right expertise.

With employees, you can also go a long way to motivating and developing competent staff members by offering them key projects rather than attempting to do it yourself. Learn when to let go and surround yourself with the right people.

(Andy Reeve, Specialist Adviser Team Manager)

"Listen and learn"

It is perhaps true that 'most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply', as Stephen Covey once said. In business, and particularly for customer-facing teams, it is important to listen to individuals with the intent to learn about what makes them and their business tick. Ask questions, get them to do the talking, aim to form a rapport rather than a sale. Only then are you in a position to identify relevant solutions and opportunities that match their needs, instead of launching into a sales pitch. By demonstrating a genuine and sincere understanding of their issues, you will be better able to earn their respect and trust, which given time is likely to convert to a sale.

(Susie Parker, Digital Marketing Manager)

And, as a final tip from Henry Ward Beecher, who said a very long time ago, 'The true secret of giving advice is, after you have honestly given it, to be perfectly indifferent whether it is taken or not, and never persist in trying to set people right.'

Let us know what business advice you swear by and leave us a comment below.

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