There are plenty of books that offer advice and expertise on running a business. Wading through them all can be exhausting, but not always fruitful. Sometimes the better advice comes straight from the mouths of other successful entrepreneurs.
The new year is a good time for executives to pull out personalized notepads and write down the names of companies they admire. The list should include a combination of highly visible businesses and entrepreneurs, as well as local companies that also enjoy success. Once the list is done, it's time to do research, write letters and even make a few phone calls. Getting inside of entrepreneurs' heads could provide invaluable insight. The combination of big and small companies provides businesses with a broader perspective.
Start with the big companies
Businesses could always try cold-calling a co-founder of Facebook, but chances are he might be too busy to sit down and have a chat. However, it's still possible to hit the Internet and research how Facebook runs. Depending on the size of their businesses, it may be possible to find quotes, interviews or even keynote addresses by successful entrepreneurs. You can also start by perusing the short and sweet advice from a dozen successful entrepreneurs around the country, as provided by Business Insider.
The magazine recently featured 12 entrepreneurs twice, once so they could tell readers their best productivity tips, and again to give the best advice they ever got. The combined insight covers ranges from simple strategies for approaching the day in a new way to rethinking the structure of a business.
Writing things down
One piece of advice came from, David Lai, founder and CEO of the creative agency Hello Design. He recommended that entrepreneurs get productive by starting their day positive with fresh energy and the right state of mind. He also told Business Insider that he starts each morning with a bike ride to help clear his head and think about the day's challenges. Once he gets to work, he writes down on a memo pad – not a keyboard – all of the urgent things he needs to get done.
"I always keep it next to my keyboard, and rip the pages off as I complete them," he said. "I find that writing things down in a list and crossing them off helps me prioritize so I don't lose focus."
Business executives could keep their personalized pens and pads nearby in order to create better time management like Lai. They could even send out promotional notepads to their own employees so they, too, could increase their own productivity.
Getting a mentor
Other advice from the entrepreneurs circled around the idea that two heads are better than one. Katia Beauchamp, co-founder of Birchbox, emphasized the value of a great partner to help pick up the slack. Another co-founder, Sulaiman Sanni of crowdfunding platform WeDidIt, suggested that businesses could be much more efficient and successful with a mentor.
This advice leads to the second half of executives' personal lists of admirable companies. While a larger, global company may seem tempting as a mentor, it may be better to focus on help and advice from local entrepreneurs who can easily be met with face-to-face. If businesses are geography-dependent, then local entrepreneurs will also probably have better insight into the region. If one of those local success stories is willing to sit down and talk about success strategies, If a business manages to pique the interest of a potential mentor, or even someone who is willing to sit down and chat, then corporate thank you gifts can be just the way to express appreciation.