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Entrepreneurial Success Means More Than Making Money

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Growing up in a small Canadian Mennonite farming community, I was surrounded by many uncles, aunts, cousins, and other close-knit family. We focused on faith, family, and work, and our daily lives were filled with service to others. If a storm or fire damaged a barn, the neighbors would come together for a barn raising. No one needed to ask for help. This was just how things were. We knew we could accomplish more when we joined forces and worked together.

This example has guided me throughout my life and taught me that being an entrepreneur isn’t a job, it’s a lifestyle. You have to devote yourself fully to your business, be fully engaged, and do whatever it takes to succeed. The most important thing for me and most of my entrepreneurial friends and family members is creating businesses that benefit our families and employees while positively impacting our local communities and our world. 

However, I’ve also known driven entrepreneurs who’ve acquired enormous wealth only to wonder why their expensive cars, wine collections, and palatial homes don’t bring them the joy and peace they thought they deserved. It’s a simple answer: although they’d worked hard and succeeded on many levels, they’d failed in their relationships and souls. They ended up with a mountain of cash but a lonely life.  

You may be tempted by grey-area businesses that claim to offer low up-front costs, significant returns, and minimal effort, but before taking the plunge, decide if the risks are worth damaging your reputation and your relationships. Trust your instincts. It probably isn’t worth your while if a business doesn’t feel right to you.  

As many entrepreneurs do, I learned the hard way that deals that seem too good to be true usually are. I learned about dealing with unscrupulous characters, and I reaffirmed my resolve not to be that type of business person.  

In building our businesses, we strived to develop a strong foundation for our families, to create jobs, and to contribute to economic growth in our communities all while providing goods and services that filled societal needs. They not only became profitable, they also served a greater good.  

But how do you build such a business? Here are a few tips for laying a solid foundation in your business ventures: 

1. Recruit great team members

Without the expertise and skills of a highly skilled and experienced team, it’s impossible to grow a business into a highly profitable one. When employees are enthusiastic and productive in their jobs, I do everything I can to keep them. I initially hire a headhunter to identify and recruit new team members because they can target people with specific skill sets more efficiently. They generally provide a guarantee to replace people who don’t work out. Recruiting services often charge 20 to 30 percent of the salary of each hire as a fee. Usually, they find people I would never have been able to locate on my own who are very well qualified. The headhunters will help you define the job and its responsibilities, recruit candidates, and conduct interviews to narrow the field down. I recommend attending interviews with the top applicants. I have to remind myself to resist hiring someone I like merely because we have a lot in common. I don’t want a duplicate of myself. An entrepreneur should hire those whose skills and experiences complement and ideally surpass their own. 

“You will either step forward into growth or you will step back into safety.” – Abraham Maslow

2. Treat customers and clients like royalty

“Our chain of PeopleCare Heritage Centers and a paving stone manufacturing business have been my two biggest business successes so far. My involvement in both businesses was delightful because we built companies that provided excellent services and goods to appreciative clients and customers. Successful entrepreneurs recognize the value of excellent customer service. Unfortunately, we often become so preoccupied with growing our businesses that we lose sight of how to build and maintain relationships with our customers. Staying disciplined, focused, and personal, you can grow your business, attract new customers, and serve your existing clients. But developing personal relationships with each customer becomes more challenging as your business grows. That’s why it’s important to hire and train people who will follow the values of excellent customer care that you set for your company” –  says Dima Suponau, Managing Director at Number for Live Person

3. Build trusting and mutually supportive relationships

When you consider your employees as team members who follow the company’s values and mission while also pursuing their own goals, you create a bond that elevates your partnership above the transactional workplace. My goal is to create an environment that’s trusting and mutually supportive. To depend on my people, I must make sure that they know that I’ll be there for them. It’s my sincere wish for them to succeed both professionally and personally. Treating people with humility, respect, honesty, and kindness will build trusting and mutually supportive relationships. If you share your gifts unselfishly and focus on serving others as you develop your business, you’ll never regret it. 

4. Focus on making a positive impact

Instead of thinking about how much money you can earn or the things you can buy with it, I encourage you to think about the good you can accomplish. While I’m all for building wealth and providing comforts for your family, no one makes it on their own. You don’t want to find yourself alone because you focused on individual success or financial success rather than building mutually supportive and loving relationships. It’s essential to keep gratitude in mind as you embark on your business ventures and entrepreneurial life. With gratitude always in your heart, no problem will seem insurmountable, and even the most minor blessing will lighten your load. You’ll be drawn to opportunities that serve a greater purpose when you have gratitude in your heart as an entrepreneur. 

5. Rely on your angels

As an entrepreneur, I’ve had my ups and downs. I’ve made much money with successful businesses throughout my life, and I’ve experienced times when it appeared as though I might lose both my companies and wealth. My family and friends rallied around me during those difficult and frightening times. They were my angels. Similarly, if you wish to be financially and personally successful in business, you’ll need angels by your side. To get through difficult times, you’ll need the love and support of your life partner, family, friends, and those unseen guardians who will show up in the darkest hours and guide you. My advice is to make sure you attract your angels as avidly as you do business partners, great team members, and loyal clients. 

Bob Schlegel and his wife and business partner, Myrna, came from humble roots in a small Ontario, Canada farming community. Together, they launched their first family business, PeopleCare Heritage Centers, that grew to include 15 facilities in both the U.S. and Canada. While Myrna operated the centers, Bob Schlegel and a partner also launched Pavestone Company, which became the nation’s leading supplier of concrete landscaping products. The Schlegels sold both businesses and today are involved in a myriad of new enterprises and philanthropic endeavors. Bob’s new book, Angels and Entrepreneurs: A Lifestyle Formula for Starting Your Own Business and Riding the Rollercoaster of Entrepreneurship (SAVIO Republic, Feb. 22, 2022), shares the lessons learned from navigating the life of an entrepreneur. Learn more at bobschlegelauthor.com

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Entrepreneurs

Why Entrepreneurial Innovation Matters More Than Ever

Innovation and disruption are a key part of thought leadership online. But most online business owners today are blinded by tactics

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How You Can Start Networking in Style in 2023

By investing your time and effort in networking, you will gain more business through the relationships you make

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Are you completely new to networking?

Then this article is a great place to start. Networking isn’t hard on paper…you go along to online and in-person meetings, make new connections and build relationships, and those relationships lead to more work so you can grow your business! The challenge is that in reality, it isn’t quite so straightforward, as our emotions get involved and make things much tougher.

It’s incredibly common for nerves to creep in and to feel overwhelmed and apprehensive when it comes to networking – even when it isn’t new to you. But how can you become more successful at it, feel less self-conscious, and make networking work for you and your business?

Here’s a few tips to help you embrace every business networking opportunity you get, so you can grow your business and achieve your goals.

Rock up with confidence

If you want to keep those nerves at bay and ooze confidence at networking get-togethers, you’ll need to downplay it rather than seeing it as a big occasion. Try not to put pressure on yourself and see it as a casual meet-up with a bunch of people with similar goals to you. To help you relax in the run-up to the event, be sure to set achievable goals and expectations before you go.

Keep your chin up and your goals in mind – positivity is key. One easy goal for your first networking meeting is very simply to speak to one other person and see where the conversation goes. Introduce yourself and your business, but take the time to listen to their story, too. It’ll only take a few minutes and will be over before you know it, so it’s nothing to fear. You may even enjoy it and want to speak to a few more people, too!

“You can close more business in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get people interested in you.” – Dale Carnegie

Where to go networking

If you’ve never been networking before, it might not be very easy to find a group – but only because there’s so much choice and you don’t know where to start your search! Groups come in different sizes and styles, so it’s important to find one that suits you and your business. Informal, formal, big, small… the choice is yours.

For your first meeting, start small to ease yourself in – a big group could prove too daunting, and stop you from feeling comfortable enough to get involved. After all, you want to make a strong first impression!

If you’re wondering which group to opt for in the long-term, give a few a go! Get a feel for them, speak to as many people as you can, and see which one suits! You’ll know when a group feels right for you, and you can see where those all-important relationships are most likely to be built. If a group doesn’t feel like the right for you, give a different one a go.

Get more leads and referrals

This will happen for you, as long as you put the effort into building those relationships. If you take the time to get to know people, and then check in with them and support them, they’ll see you as a trustworthy and reliable contact who they can call on. And when they feel that way, those leads and referrals you’re looking for will come a-knocking.

Once you’ve made relationships with people who you trust, and they’ve had a positive experience working with you, you can even ask for referrals! But don’t rush this, as you don’t want to inadvertently push people away or try and force the relationship along too quickly.

When you do get an opportunity to work with someone you’ve met at a networking group, go above and beyond to offer more value than they’re expecting, as then, they’ll be much more likely recommend you and introduce you to more of their contacts!

Grow your business

By investing your time and effort in networking, you will gain more business through the relationships you make, and you will be able to grow your business.

We know that it’s not easy, going networking for the very first time. And that’s why we want to give you all the advice and tools that you need so you can walk in with confidence and make the most of the opportunity.

2023 is just around the corner, and you have the chance to make it the year you make networking work for your business. And the benefits could be incredibly amazing for your business, just like they have been for ours, and many business owners we have worked with over the years.

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