IF THERE’S ONE thing entrepreneurs are full of, it’s advice. The brightest innovators often surround themselves with worldly mentors who dispense pearls of wisdom – and spare them from repeating mistakes of the past.
To help pass on that guidance, we’ve revisited some of Fora’s question-and-answer features to find out where Irish leaders get their inspiration for making better business decisions.
Here’s what they had to say when we asked: What’s the best piece of advice you ever received, and who did it come from?
My business partner, Duncan, said to me very early on was that making money is easy but making it honestly is the hard part.
That’s always directed me towards steadfast integrity in doing business. This has really paid dividends – I mean that literally. It’s been really good for our business. We maintain integrity at every corner.
Another piece of advice came from a piece of graffiti I saw on the Berlin Wall. It said, “You can’t keep both feet on the ground and kick ass at the same time.”
I’m always reminded of it every time the company is going well and I think it would be nice to keep things on an even keel.
Ultimately, staying still is going backwards. If you want to kick ass you need to keep pushing yourself out of your comfort zone so that you keep innovating all the time.
It came from my grandfather, who has passed away. He was a businessman himself, who built the first retail carpet business in my hometown of Perth, Australia, and sold it when he retired.
What I learned from him was integrity matters in business. He taught me that business is about relationships and not transactions.
It seems obvious, but it surprises me that some people try to get the best of a transaction for themselves. It’s a win-win outcome you should be looking for.
When I worked in the bank after I left school, I worked for a chap called Brian Doyle. The one thing he said to me when I was leaving the bank was, “Go ahead Michael and believe in your own talents and strength and you’ll do well.”
Those words have always stuck with me. I met him recently and told him that he was a great inspiration to me going out on my own.
The best piece of advice I ever got was, buy cheap and you’ll buy twice. It’s an old saying, but my father said that to me years ago.
If you try and skimp on what you’re trying to develop – getting low-cost developers or low-cost equipment – you will end up having to pay again or you will end up wasting time. That was the biggest thing I found at the start.
Always go for the best you can afford and you won’t go wrong.
I think I might have read this somewhere rather than hearing it from someone – it’s the whole sales philosophy that people buy from people.
In order to be successful at selling, you need to be able to sell yourself first. I think a lot of fledgling salespeople don’t understand the whole communication, personality, trust part of selling that’s so key to people buying into a product.
I’m sure the same advice could have come from a whole pile of sources but for me the advice that really changed things came from my old chief at Trustev, Pat Phelan.
Pat is the personification of ‘just do it’ – without the Nike sponsorship deal – and really showed that attitude of stop driving yourself nuts overthinking and just go out at do something, anything, and see what happens.
You can always fix and tweak things but the most important thing in any task is to get started.