The 5 Rules of Long-Term Business Success

Running your own business involves some sacrifice. For some, it is the loss of social life as of late nights and working weekends become the norm.

For others, it is a financial burden to step away from the security of a steady paycheck and into the relatively unknown sea of entrepreneurship.

Then there is the stress and strain of getting your business off the ground, which can take a toll on your health– both mental and physical.

Is this price too high?

This is what entrepreneurs do to make sure their business runs smoothly by looking after themselves and their relationships with loved ones.

It is important to have the fundamentals of a good business in place, but you must also look after yourself to give you and your organization the best possible chance of long-term success.

Here are some key areas to study, to ensure that you are able to cope with the brave new world of entrepreneurship.

1. Time it Right

The business world is full of bravado. Many entrepreneurs brag about “money loves speed” when it comes to business decisions. 

While moving swiftly is an important skill to master, it shouldn’t be put above everything else. That is to say, speed for the sake of it (without sufficient information) is nothing to shout about.

Making the wrong decision because you don’t have all the facts, or even making the right decisions at the wrong time can be detrimental to both your time and money.

It is all about timing. Don’t just say, “Ready, fire, aim,” but equally avoid, “Ready, aim, aim, aim….”

2. Don’t Break The Law 

Most people try to stay on the right side of the law. However, as businesses grow, decisions must be made faster, and it is not uncommon for entrepreneurs to cut corners to keep things simple.

While the majority of people never consider committing a serious crime such as fraud or embezzlement, they may not think twice about flouting the rules in between.

For example, instructing workers to work longer than allowed; underpaying them, or failing to comply with legislation. These are all crimes that will most likely catch up with you one day.

3. Protect Your Mental Health 

A study by the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine claimed that long hours increase the risk of heart disease. The researchers found that risk was 16% higher in those who worked 55 hours per week over a sustained period compared to those who just worked 45 hours.

And it’s not just our physical health – it takes its toll on our mental wellbeing too, such as ADD, ADHD, bipolar, anxiety or depression.

A Japanese study at Kyoto University found that those who work long hours (at least 60 hours per week) were more likely to develop depression. This kind of burnout is typified by the inability to switch off the anxious brain. 

Thought patterns become erratic and uncontrollable; worries, anxieties, and concerns cannot be sated; sleep suffers; you cannot concentrate and eventually your brain shuts down and your business is affected, which is  “a primary determinant of venture failure.”

So how can it be avoided? The most obvious place to start is by taking a break and setting some boundaries between your work and personal life.

Give your mind some time to rest by taking up exercise, yoga or meditation, to help the mind recover, other than just focusing on work.

4. Stay One Step Ahead of the Industry 

Just one. You don’t need to be working so far into the future that you take your eye off the ball, but neither can you afford to be living off the former glories. Keeping one step ahead is to avoid complacency– one of the biggest silent killers in business.

For example, look no further than Finnish company Nokia. According to Statista, in late 2007 the communications and IT company boasted an enviable 49% global market share in the mobile handset market. By 2012, Nokia commanded just 3.5% while its competitors —  the iPhone – took over the market.

So keep checking in with customers (and the market) to be sure that others in the industry are not offering something that you are not. You need to be steadily driving your business forward.

5. Stay Humble

Do you feel like you are the undisputed king of your industry? Be on guard when you start to experience such emotions. Why? Because inflated confidence often develops into arrogance which can damage relationships with staff, colleagues, partners, and the like. Such behavior can also lead to poor decision-making.

You may be overconfident in your abilities and start spending too freely or write off the competition due to a deluded belief in your own offering.

Far from simply being an attractive character trait, humility is known to offer a competitive advantage in the world of business –  and a key to your long-term survival.

A study published in Organizational Dynamics found that humility is a vital ingredient for business success.

“Humility is a critical strength for leaders and organizations possessing it and a dangerous weakness for those lacking it.” So stay humble.

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