James Bennett, Founder, Upstate Home Health Care Solutions

    If you’ve ever been to a theme park, you know that roller coasters are generally the main attraction. In order to appeal to everyone, most parks have varying degrees of roller coasters ranging from the kiddie rides to those that nearly defy gravity. Usually, the thrill of the roller coaster ride lasts no more than 5 minutes; however, for the life of an entrepreneur, they experience the emotional ride of a roller coaster every day. In 2011, I made that leap into entrepreneurship when I started my home care company. There have been many loops, dips, twists, highs & lows on this entrepreneur journey and I have discovered a few essentials that will hopefully help the next generation of entrepreneurs.

    Stay focused on the why! There is a plethora of reasons why entrepreneurs start their own business. Desire to build something from the ground up, corporate burn out, financial independence, solving a new problem, bad experience from a service or product and thought they could do it better, etc. No matter the reason, one of the keys to success is to always remember why you started your business. This is especially important in the start-up phase of your business. The road to building something great is long…. very long and it will challenge you physically, emotionally, and financially. It’s important to keep your “why” ever before you to help through the challenges you will face in operating your business.

    Don’t Be the Hero! Everyone loves a great movie; especially when the hero is able to overcome incredible odds to achieve the goal. Every movie, no matter the genre, are structured the same way. Each movie has a hero, a nemesis, and a mentor/guide. The sooner an entrepreneur understands they are not hero, the more likely they are to succeed. No matter if you are providing a service or producing a product, the role of your business is to be the guide for your client/customer. Your clients are the heroes and you are there simply help them write their own story.

    Utilize your community resources! As the business grows, you will experience challenges and face obstacles that may seem insurmountable; but remember you don’t have to face those challenges alone. There are resources in the community to help guide you through these obstacles so you are not re-inventing the wheel. These resources include but are not limited to the Small Business Development Center, local chamber of commerce, and Service Corps of Retired Executives (SCORE). The sole purpose of these organizations is to equip, educate, & encourage small businesses to be successful in their industry. They are available to help the entrepreneur overcome challenges and assist in creating strategic plans to help grow your business.

    Establish your team! As an owner, you bring certain strengths to your business. You’ve developed that strength whether through your professional career, educational background, or just natural ability. However, when consider building your team, build your team around your weakness and add people based on their ability to fit within your company culture vs only their skill. Having a diverse team and a company culture where team members can thrive in their strengths can produce dynamic results.

    Never Stop Learning! As an entrepreneur, your employees are depending on your leadership. You are the person that is setting the direction and providing the vision for the company. Your employees need you to be best version of you; therefore, you should never stop learning. One of the best investments you can make is to invest in yourself. The most economical way is to read books that will stimulate your growth. It’s been said that all readers are not leaders but all leaders are readers. Attend conferences, workshops, and seminars that are specific to your industry to discover innovative strategies to grow your business. Also consider attending conferences on leadership development to ensure you are becoming the best leader you can be as well as attain the skills to train the leaders in your organization.

    Define your success! Quite often, society dictates the definition of success. Usually, it is based on some quantifiable factor such as gross sales, net profit, number of locations, number of employees, etc. These factors are great and are necessary for growth; however, have you truly defined what is success to you? Have you ever asked yourself what makes you happy? What gives you joy? When are you most satisfied? What does success look like and how will you know when you reached it? These are just a few questions any entrepreneur should asked themselves to determine their own definition of success. “Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out you own inner voice, heart and intuition” – Steve Jobs.