The best small business advice comes from your peers. Here are the best tried-and-tested approaches from successful Australian entrepreneurs.
Lifehacker's Supercharge Your Business For 2015 series, brought to you by QuickBooks Online, provides strategies and technology tips to help your business thrive. Learn more about how QuickBooks Online can run your entire business.
We've gathered these ideas from our weekly Elevator Pitch column, where we regularly ask people to share their favourite business advice. These are some of the best answers.
Don't assume your initial idea is perfect
Business ideas start with a spark of inspiration, but refinement is also important, as Nick Austin from Divvy learned:
Getting the right business model took some time -- it wasn't instant. We listened to the market, pivoted, had conversations with our members and new partners, and pivoted again. We have a better model now because of it
Kimi Anderson from TravelGiver takes a similar approach:
The best advice I received in the early days was "it is not about perfection, it is about continual self-correction" and this is so true. Everything changes so quickly so the idea of perfection is obsolete. It is better to get your ideas and product out there, listen to customers, incorporate their feedback and continually evolve to meet the changing market needs.
Customer trust means everything
One journey every business has to take is winning the trust of its customers. As Dmitry Levin from KISA explains:
Our biggest challenge is, as a new company, to grow and become a trusted brand name. We aim to gain that trust by responding to the needs of our customers, and providing high quality product, service and support.
Mike Glew from Best Exhaust agrees:
Customer experience is the key to successful marketing. If a customer is happy, they will tell people. Is a customer is unhappy, they will tell people. Have your story told in a positive light.
Deal with one problem at a time
Small business throws up a constant series of challenges, but trying to tackle them all at once will often only make things worse. Adam Hackney from Shopnate counsels a "one step at a time" approach, especially in the early stages of the business:
Just focus on one problem at a time. When you just start out, there are so many things that need fixing and improving but you really need to be focused on what's the most important and have a structured approach in tackling all the other things. Prioritising has been the key for me.
Always carry a pen
Entrepreneurs frequently have flashes of inspiration, but if you don't note them down, they're too often lost for ever. While smartphones offer an easy route into digital note-taking, Tim & Matt McDougal from Curo favour the simple pen:
On the first day of my first full-time job, my boss said to me "Always carry a pen". It might seem strange that this the single best piece of advice I've ever received and in hindsight it was probably more about him having a reason to show off his expensive Mont Blanc than passing on advice. However, it's stuck with me and as an entrepreneur it's held me in good stead. New ideas come and go all the time for all of us, but it's been so important to put them down. Sure we all carry phones/laptops around, but at this stage of technology, nothing matches the ability to quickly jot a note down or even draw a picture.
Don't try and do everything yourself
Concentrate on what you're good at and outsource everything else. In the cloud computing era, this is easier than ever. As Basil Shkara from Bee argues:
Don't be afraid to outsource. Your time can be spent on your own core competencies, and finding the right people to do what they know best for your company pays off in buckets.
Don't give up
Persistence is the ultimate requirement for a successful small business. As Christian Mischler from HotelQuickly explains:
Steve Jobs once said, "Don't let the noise of other's opinion drown out your inner voice". The deeper meaning of this statement has been formulated over and over again. Don't give up. If you believe in your idea and your capabilities, follow your mission and make it happen. If there's a will, there's a way. Go out there and change the world.
Laptop picture from Shutterstock