Running a business is a journey, one fraught with detours and disappointments, surprises and celebrations. Above all, it’s a learning process. After 15+ years, I’ve made my fair share of mistakes, all bestowing valuable lessons. Here are some key takeaways from my journey that can help you navigate the capricious waters of business.
Acknowledge Your Flaws
No matter how far technology advances, businesses will always be created by people for people. And even the most prominent business leaders have flaws. Some flaws can hinder you, while others can help. Some flaws demand correction; others you can leverage. It all depends on how well you know both yourself and the market. I’ll be the first to admit my flaws. At times, they made me lose confidence in my vision, and that can be dangerous. The key is to accept your flaws rather than dwell on them. Keep moving forward. Can you perhaps turn your flaws into a competitive advantage?
Besides every successful CEO is a team of people, each with unique experiences and perspectives. I’ve learned to listen, to everyone young and old in the business, to those with less and more experience, and even to those outside of my industry. Listen not only when you ask for help or direction, but also when people come to you for guidance. It’s easy to get wrapped up inside our own heads and trapped in a narrow mindset. Listening to others can benefit your business in unexpected ways. You’ll expand your pool of strategies, foster trust with your employees and partners, and bolster your business as a whole.
Don’t Fear Mistakes
Everyone makes them, and at the moment they can feel terrible. The fear of making mistakes can be paralyzing, but mistakes are absolutely necessary for growth. My mistakes made me who I am. The lessons they taught me propelled my business to new heights. Most importantly, they’ve made me more resilient and confident in business and my personal life. Mistakes are a given. Treat them not as shame traps, but as opportunities to learn.
Put Family First
Running a successful business takes dedication. More importantly, it requires balance. At the end of the day, it’s not the metrics that matter, but the love and support of your family. They’re there for you during your highest highs and lowest lows. Give your loved ones the time and respect they deserve. After all, time is the one thing we can’t get back.
Successful leaders surround themselves with people. Friends, family, experts, novices, and everyone in between. It’s not just about what others can do for you, but what you can do for them. For example, taking time to get to know and mentor new hires may motivate them to one day become your organization’s most valuable leaders. Connecting with people in and outside of your industry will expand your network and help your business grow organically.
If nothing else, 2020 proves that things change. I’ve learned to embrace change and adapt to it. New trends and technologies will emerge. Some will fizzle out, while others will revolutionize the way we live. Be ready to evolve, and don’t place all your eggs in one basket.
Invest in Yourself
The best choice I’ve made is investing in myself. I never stopped learning, and never let my ego get too big. My coaches have always had the wisdom to impart, and to this day I continue to find new ways to innovate and give back to my community. Never forget that you, yourself are your foremost competitive advantage.
Every business owner’s journey will be unique. You’ll likely be ahead of the curve in some areas and fall short in others. By learning from your successes and failures, you’ll be well-equipped for the challenges ahead.
Kosta Kritikos, President
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