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7 must-know tips from successful entrepreneurs

Small business owners share hard-learned lessons from the trenches.

To give your company a hand, we've gathered proven tips from successful entrepreneurs.

Did you know that, according to the Small Business Administration, only a third of new businesses survive 10 years or more? What can you do to make your small business one of the thrivers? To find out, we asked entrepreneurs who have succeeded.

1. Love what you do.
The road to success is a hard one. But, according to Lisa King, owner of Brownie Points Inc., which sells gourmet brownies and holiday gift baskets, it's a lot easier if you're passionate about your business's purpose. "If you don't [love what you do], it's hard to be successful," she says. She adds that this helps you stay positive: "You need to maintain your optimism. Once it's gone, you're done."

2. Build a team immersed in your vision.
"For me, it's more than just hiring experienced people. It's important to demonstrate the type of organization we want to be," says Mike Mondello, president of SeaBear, which supplies fresh and smoked wild salmon directly to consumers. To bring to life the vision of building a seafood brand based on world-class, sustainable wild salmon, Mondello used a team meeting to showcase a fisherman whose way of catching fish resulted in a better end product.

3. Come up with innovative ways to solve problems.
Necessity really is the mother of invention. Just ask Robin Brocklesby of Creative Coverings, which rents specialty linens for formal events. When customers were having difficulty returning the linens they had rented, Brocklesby turned to UPS for a creative solution. The result was out-of-the box innovation: Return the linens in specially designed bags (with an estimated life span of 300 uses) rather than larger boxes.

4. Create a delightful customer experience.
Several components come together to win customers, and everyone at the company needs to know their own role in retaining customers. "It's mission critical that everyone on our team understands how they fit into the brand and what they bring to the value chain that delivers a successful customer experience," Mondello says.

King notes that shipping plays a vital role in her customers' experience, particularly since Brownie Points provides a perishable product. "You need to know that you're partnering with someone who can manage your shipments and make sure your packages arrive on time," she says.

5. Quickly learn from your mistakes.
Mistakes are inevitable. The key is to learn from them – fast. A decade ago during the holidays, SeaBear outsourced its call center. Customer orders were soon riddled with errors. "When a customer had a need outside the norm, the call center couldn't handle it with the customer care our own professionals could," Mondello recalls. The solution? SeaBear immediately stopped outsourcing and personally contacted all the customers who were negatively affected. Also, the company has learned to test any new process during a quiet time of the year.

6. Rely on people smarter than you.
You can't know and do everything. You must rely on others. "Surround yourself with people who know more than you do," King advises. "I was a schoolteacher [prior to going into business] and there were a lot of things I had to learn," she recalls. To fill in the gap, King selected vendors or has hired people who had the knowledge or skills she lacked.

7. Never sacrifice quality.
"The key to the success of any business is to establish a philosophy and have everyone in the business buy into it," says Larry Sweet, founder and president of Save-A-Load Inc. The company manufacturers load bars for truckers and delivery companies for the cargo area to hold items in place during transport. Sweet's philosophy of putting quality first has resulted in double-digit revenue growth since the company's founding in 1993. The manufacturer stands behind its product quality by providing a lifetime warranty and relying on UPS to deliver its best-in-class product to customers worldwide.

Have your own tips? Share them below.

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Reader Comments

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Rehman Moizuddin Fasihi October 11, 2015
I agree with seven tips.
Gina August 31, 2015
Great list of tips. I myself have been following tips on becoming more successful from other blog articles. I found this website, on there is a another great post about entrepreneur tips. Thank you for sharing!
Zebra June 21, 2015
Great tips. Quality is paramount today. Customers are still willing to pay for excellence.
Louren Jovito April 18, 2015
With regards in building a team, entrepreneurs should harness the power of social media. I created a post on why social media is very powerful tool in any business
Jane April 17, 2015
My tips for an entrepreneur that just launched a startup would be: start networking, learn new business skills by going to classes (like coding, accounting, growth hacking etc), try coworking (it's cheaper and great for startups) and don't be afraid of using apps that will make starting up just a bit easier. This article actually resumes my points quite well:
Albert March 17, 2015
Join a Professional Networking Platform like to grow more opportunities and to get more success.
Pina A. March 4, 2015
I agree with all seven points! Most important is to build a team of people which understand, are willing to learn and move forward for common goal of growth, and success.
jitendra kumar Soni January 21, 2015
Network Marketing Plan
Nahid Hasan January 6, 2015
I am totally agree with the point "rely on people smarter than you". But sometimes it can create additional problem if one doesn't have enough management and operating skills. But if the candidate has this skill then s/he doesn't need to worry, success is just few steps away from them.
Francis December 1, 2014
Never ever sacrifice quality ... not for any reason... ultimate law!
rajesh November 5, 2014
Yes Luck & hard work is main thing
An Entrepreneur July 7, 2014
Timing and luck plays a major a role and this is acknowledged by many influential figures in the technology industry. Jeff Bezos the founder of in 1994 saw the opportunity to create a company that sells books via the internet which was becoming widely accepted by the masses at the time.