Entrepreneurs Share Tips For Success

While New Year’s resolutions may be broken far more often than they’re kept, a 2014 study from University of Scranton found people are 10 times more likely to achieve their goals when they explicitly make resolutions. If your goal for this year is to build or improve your business, check out some advice from a few local entrepreneurs who shared some of their top tips.

“There’s no success without sacrifice.” – Jason Sewell, co-founder of DevLeague and co-founder of SudoKrew

“Be maniacal at understanding who your customers are — and their pain points.” – Russel Cheng, co-founder of DevLeague and co-director of Founders’ Institute

Cheng describes “pain points” as issues that your customers need addressed.

“Build a solution that solves their pain point such that they cannot live without it,” he adds. “This will bring you happy and loyal paying customers.”

“Remain true.” – Carla and Sasha Capone, co-owners of Beach Wahine Boutique

These mother-daughter online boutique owners know that the competition out there is stiff — and in order to keep customers coming back, they say it’s important to retain the vision and quality that they started out with. While growing your business is important, they say, it’s perhaps even more important to do that in a way that stays true to yourself and your brand.

“Tie the business goal or resolution to something greater and more meaningful.” – Jeff Bow, owner of Jeff Bow Executive Coaching

Bow, whose coaching is designed to help clients optimize their business and life goals, encourages people to focus on the deeper meaning of any objective and reflect on why it’s important. Many of his clients, for example, use their businesses as vehicles to give back to the community.

“Align the goal … to the mission or vision of the company,” Bow explains. “Keep it fun, and make sure that it’s inspiring and not just another to-do item on your list. When your goal is tied to something more meaningful, you will have a greater chance of success.”

“Make a conscious effort to disconnect and, more importantly, to actively encourage your team to do the same.” – Scott Mercer, co-founder and CEO of Volta Industries

Startups often have an “always on” environment. But Mercer, whose Volta Industries produces free electric car charging stations, asserts that actually can be counterproductive, and it’s up to leaders to set the expectation for their employees to maintain balance.

“Over the short term, it’s easy to run a team hard at a defined goal,” he says. “But over the long term, keeping everyone motivated, engaged and passionate becomes a delicate balance — and it’s all too easy for a strong work ethic to cross over into burnout.”

“Focus.” –Michael Menendez, co-founder and chief technology officer, Volta Industries

At a startup, Menendez says, there are always side projects and other opportunities that come up. But don’t that those steer you away from your mission.

“Don’t lose sight of the main focus of your business,” he says.

“Be clear.” –Cynthia Yamasaki, founder of CMY Consulting

Yamasaki, whose firm provides leadership and life coaching, applies this philosophy to each aspect of her business — and instructs her clients to do the same. For starters, you need to identify your company’s purpose and why it’s important.

“Having a clear written purpose and business plan helps to align everyone involved with your organization toward the same focus, objectives and approaches you need in order to reach your goals,” Yamasaki explains.

She adds that businesses also should be able to identify their specific target market — and entrepreneurs should be cognizant of what their own strengths and limitations are, in order to better delegate to their team.

“Never stop learning.” – Jennifer Armstrong, founder of Kaia Consulting

Even if you are at the top of your game, there always is room for improvement. There are plenty of resources, such as online classes or trade magazines, available to expand your knowledge of your industry or to pick up new skills.

“Always look for ways to build upon your professional development,” advises Armstrong, who launched her public relations firm in 2012. “Trends and research change constantly, which is why it’s important to keep up with the latest in your industry.”

In the words of Mike Tyson, “Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.”–Michael Hernandez-Soria, founder of Hawaiian Cool Water

“For me, starting a company is like getting into the ring,” says Hernandez-Soria, whose company designs environmentally friendly water purification systems. “I will plan and prepare, but must remember that I can never be fully prepared.”

He adds that, of course, the preparation is important anyway, but warns that ultimately, “Business, like life, just doesn’t go according to plan.”