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By Dirk Ebener | May 1, 2018

Our company, Global CIF, is approaching its 4th anniversary and it is a very good feeling to still be alive and kicking in this very fast and changing business world. I was super excited when I successfully passed the “365 days in business” hurdle in 2015. There are plenty of stories, and people telling entrepreneurs who pay a lot of money to hear the message, that the “365 days in business” is the first indicator of how your business life will go.

We passed the test and I quietly celebrated with a cupcake and cup of coffee on Day 366.

The next milestone was the “Magic Three-Year Milestone.” This time, comments coming my way were: “Congratulations. You made it this far without turning the lights off and locking the door like so many other small business owners.”

I have news for you! Yes, I am still in business and who cares about what the rest of the business world thinks. The last time I checked, I am the one who is driving my business and will face the consequences if I mess up. Move on people. Focus on your stuff.

I read, watch, and listen to Gary Vaynerchuk. My wife, my daughter, and business friends will tell you that I am way too focused on his messages and comments. Yes, I listen to him a lot and take his comments and advice to my entrepreneurship heart. Read about him and his story and you will understand why I like his message!

In my office there are two photo canvases with quotes from Gary. They are right there in front of me all day long. One says, “WORK — that’s how you get it.” He is 100% right! The second canvas says, “Fear Kills Growth.” Gary is right again.

We are moving towards the 4th anniversary of my company. We continue to grow. I am looking for controlled and focused growth. The entire team is working very hard to make sure that we are keeping our current clients. Our commitment to existing business clients will allow us to continue our growth. You need to take care of the business you have before going for more.

Here are some of the lessons that I have learned. I hope they will help you to stay focused on your vision and business goals:

  1. Vision and commitment. No matter what business you are in or want to start, make sure that you keep your vision and commitment strong.
  2. Know your numbers.You will go out of business if you don’t know your numbers. You hear and see it on Shark Tank all the time. No matter how busy you are, look at your financials.
  3. Team effort. There are only 24 hours in a day and realistically 5 to 6 business days a week. Involve your team! Share your vision and allow them to contribute and buy into your vision.
  4. Outsource your weaknesses. Don’t spend your time on things you don’t like and are not good at. It is a waste of your time and is way too frustrating. Focus on your strengths and move on.
  5. Build a strong network.It is not weakness to ask for help and advice. People will not be able to help you and guide you if you don’t talk about it.
  6. It will be a very lonely road out there. Find a mentor who knows the business you are in. How can a mentor guide you if he never walked the walk? Be selective and take your time to connect with a mentor. A good mentor will hold you accountable and want you to succeed.
  7. Be a Giver. Way too many people want your advice and help and are not willing to give back. Don’t worry about getting something in return. Give anyway!
  8. Stay focused. It is your business. Don’t get distracted by what others are doing or thinking. At the end of the day it is your responsibility to keep the doors open.
  9. Get a manageable CRM system. I made the mistake of choosing a CRM system that was way too complicated for my small business. I have finally found one that works for me and is fun to work with. By the way, I am working with Nutshell.
  10. Ask for feedback. Engage with customers early and often and learn as much as possible in order to ensure you are delivering a great experience that customers value.
  11. Don’t be shy and change when change is needed. Willingness to change is vital in order to save you time and money in the long run.
  12. Social Media is a very effective marketing tool. You don’t’ have to be an expert on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc. Take some time and study your competitors and see what they are up to. Remember; outsourcing is ok!
  13. Leadership is what your team is looking for. You are the leader and your team is expecting you to lead. Greet everybody in the morning, interact during the day, limit the time of a meeting to the very minimum, and send them off with a smile at the end of the day.
  14. Take some “Me Time.” It is important to stay healthy and focused. Turn off the switch every now and then and enjoy your life. It is your day and time. Work on your life balance.
  15. Have fun! Have fun and enjoy the opportunity of starting a business. Good luck!

These are just some of the many lessons I have learned. Share yours with other entrepreneurs and business owners. Remember, be a Giver!

Dirk Ebener