Whether you’ve been a business owner for ten years or ten days, it’s important to stay up-to-date on developments in your industry. We all want to be successful, so taking advice from industry leaders is a great way to reach your company goals. Here are a few pointers from those who have honed their craft on how to better your business.

Make a connection

First, know your audience. This may seem obvious, but your perception of your audience can differ substantially from who your audience is in reality. Being aware of which customers you should target and then making an effort to connect with them can make a world of difference in the success of your business.

Build a lifestyle around your brand, and the audience will follow,” says Eva Chen, Director of Fashion Partnerships for Instagram. To build a strong relationship between your company and your audience, you should remain open to the constructive criticism you receive. When you create a connection with your customers, their trust in you will increase,  and they will be more eager to support your brand. It’s also important to show there is a human side to the business and that your profits aren’t the only thing that matters to you. Display your personality through your brand in order to build relationships with customers and your employees.

Learn more

Just because you own a successful business doesn’t mean you should stop learning. It’s important to keep educating yourself to improve and diversify your business. Mark Hurd, CEO of Oracle, believes people should take on multiple roles throughout their careers to gain the practical experience and knowledge they need to become better leaders.

Although a lot of us are working toward a spot in the C-suite, it’s important to work in different positions to see the business from a variety of perspectives. You can then use that knowledge to become a leader who can understand and relate to your employees. Always be curious, and don’t wait for something new to fall in front of you; get out there and master it on your own. This shows initiative and proves you’re trying to grow professionally and personally.

Challenge yourself

There will always be challenges when starting a new business or taking over a business. You can make the most of those obstacles by accepting them and using them as learning tools to increase your knowledge and experience. Overcoming those challenges will show your willingness to work hard and solve problems as they arise, no matter how time-consuming or arduous the process. If you strive to be an innovator in your field, you’ll have to face your inevitable stumbling blocks head-on. Buzzfeed CEO and founder Jonah Peretti said,  “You shouldn’t be a CEO or even a startup executive or employee if you don’t like things that are hard and challenging … That has to be part of why you do it. It has to be part of the fun.”  

Stay current

It’s easy to fall behind in a fast-paced professional world. If you don’t stay up-to-date on industry trends and general international trends, you may get lost in the crowd. Continual education and curiosity are perfect remedies for this problem. To stay in the know, you must have an appetite to keep learning and growing. Sticking to your old ways will only get you so far, which is likely not far at all. The business environment is quickly changing, and your understanding of the leading practices, thinking, and emerging tools will help you manage for better results. Be a lifelong student,” says former L’Oréal VP of Communications Pamela Alabaster.

 

Be nice

This may sound oversimplified, but kindness is vital and often overlooked by many aspiring business leaders. If you want your business to be successful, you have to take employee satisfaction seriously. If you aren’t nice to your employees, their productivity, quality of work and overall morale will diminish. “Treating people well is great for business; it is complementary to doing well in business. But there’s been this story told of founders who are just not nice to people and that that’s what it takes to get ahead, and that’s just not true,” says Lyft co-founder John Zimmer. Give credit where credit is due, even if you find that difficult. Countless leaders have attributed their success to having the right team and to working together rather than trying to compete with each other.

There are many roads to success, but it never hurts to stop and ask for directions along the way. Just remember — it’s important to listen and to advise, but you should also balance that advice with what you believe is best for your company.

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