It’s hard to believe we’re coming up on Witty Kitty’s third anniversary! It seems like yesterday when our 100% women-owned marketing agency was just a wee kitten—getting bottle feed to grow and extra love and attention to thrive.
It’s been an incredible journey to this point—full of exciting partnerships with inspiring health and wellness, medical, sustainability, nonprofit, and other fantastic clients. But if we told you we #wokeuplikethis and did it all on our own, we’d be big fat fibbers. To get us through the highs and lows and keep on swimming, we’ve kept our ears open for savvy advice.
Whether you own a budding small business, embark on an entrepreneurial venture, or crave inspiration for your career, this blog is for you. We hope the next 10 tips will help you along the way. They’ve sure been some of the best pieces of business advice we’ve received as women in marketing and human beings.
Top Business Advice For Entrepreneurs
1. Know Your Worth
As women in business, it’s easy to get steamrolled when it comes to the gender pay gap, ideas, or leadership. But confidence comes from within! Knowing your worth starts with positive self-talk and professional development. Give yourself the tools and training you need to be the best in your field. Once you have the cold hard skills and attitude to match, you’ll be able to carry yourself more confidently, pitch your business to others, and do better work for your clients.
2. Say No
Warren Buffet hasn’t become a bazillionaire by bending over backward for everything and everyone. In fact, he once said, “The difference between successful people and really successful people is that really successful people say no to almost everything.”
We get it. It’s scary to walk away from money or an opportunity—especially when you just get going. However, if a client or opportunity isn’t a great fit, enough pay, or something you have the time or skill to do, don’t be afraid to say no. Keep things that don’t serve you off your plate, so you always have room for people and opportune moments when they come along. In other words, don’t load yourself down with work that won’t help you achieve your goals; it’ll make you take longer to get there.
3. Work On Your Business, Not In It
As a two-woman show and boutique digital marketing agency, we’re Jills of All Trades. That’s been both an asset and a hindrance to growth. Whether it was for cost savings, passion, or plain stubbornness, we found ourselves bogged down with production with little to no time for business development and client acquisition. That’s when we hopped on the phone with a female mentor who told us this old adage: “Work on your business, not in it!” Palm-to-face moment of obviousness? Yes. But still epiphany-worthy, nonetheless.
This business advice forced us to focus on our strengths, isolate pain points and bottlenecks, and strategize more efficient ways to divide and conquer. Since receiving this advice, we’ve added to our team to free us up to concentrate on growth while providing existing clients with quality service and work.
4. Don’t Hire Friends Or Family
You love your cousin, but would you want her to be your roommate? What about your mom, best friend, or husband’s best man? Before you offer a job to anyone you know, ask yourself if you can treat them as any other employee. Are you willing to have hard conversations if they don’t perform? Will you pay these affiliates more than they deserve because it feels awkward no to? Unless you have a personality that meshes extremely well with close friends and family—like ’til death to us part well—don’t hire them as staff. Nepitism doesn’t always benefit both parties! That’s a piece of business advice that will take you far, and avoid awkward family gatherings.
5. Treat Employees Well—No Micromanaging Allowed!
How did you like it when a boss micromanaged you? Probably frustrated, resentful, and stressed. Don’t do this to your employees. Not only does micromanaging create a tense and inefficient work environment, it also defeats the purpose of hiring someone to help! You spend time and money on something you don’t utilize to its fullest extent and in essence, do half of someone else’s job on top of your own.
If you micromanage because you don’t trust an employee, it may be time to hire someone more capable. If you micromanage because of your own insecurities or control issues, get that in check! The happiest employees feel autonomy, respect, and value. And the happier the employee, the better they’ll work for you.
6. If You Mess Up, Fess Up and Enforce Accountability
Excuses get you nowhere—not with dissatisifed clients, customers, or employees. If you mess up, fess up. Apologize for the problem, find the root of the issue, put a process in place to ensure it doesn’t happen again, and if necessary, throw something in for free. Think about how you’d feel in the client’s shoes and what it takes to make it right. Then, do it. Practicing accountability as a business owner will also demonstrate transparency and honesty to build trust.
7. Hire For Attitude, Not Experience
Whenever you hire an employee, you go out on a limb, trusting them with your brand’s reputation. Of course, you can choose the most impressive resume or years of experience, but we’ve found hiring for talent and attitude works out better in the long run. Find an employee who fits your company culture and has the chops to get the job done. If they have less experience but a hard-working attitude, you can spend time training them to do what you need so you get exactly what you want.
8. Purge Negative Clients
If someone verbally abuses you every day no matter how hard you try or what you do, it begins to weigh on your soul. This negativity eventually leaches into everything you do—from the stress you project onto your staff to your personal relationships to your confidence in your own expertise.
While it’s tempting to take any job with any client when you first start—because let’s face it, cash is tight and bills need to get paid—don’t fall into this trap! There are plenty of clients who are more trouble than they’re worth—and plenty worth their weight in gold. Of course, not everything will be smooth sailing with every client, but you don’t need to deal with clients who don’t respect what you do, value your expertise, pay you on time, or demand things that aren’t possible within their budget or scope. Happy client-relations, happy work life!
9. Keep Your Cool
While a fire might be raging in the kitchen, dinner guests never need to know this fiasco happens. Metaphor aside, your client should never see the chaos that happens behind-the-scenes. Whether someone drops the ball, you make a mistake, or a client has an urgent need, stay calm. Take an hour or two to respond to emails to get your plan in order. Talk to everyone involved to clearly identify an issue before taking it to a client. If you’re pissed, go for a walk. Bottom line: clear heads problem solve better than those lost in a panic.
10. Look For The Learning Experience in Everything
Every business owner acknowledges that you will f something up. It’s inevitable. However, the wisest people look at every failure as a learning experience. That allows you to keep looking ahead while you evolve in a productive manner.
Business advice has taught us that we can never stop learning. Take this approach to your career too and you’ll do well as an entrepreneur and business owner in 2019 and long after!