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By Sean Salas, Co-Founder and CEO of Camino Financial
Editor’s Note: Camino Financial is online marketplace that evaluates businesses and matches them with non-bank lenders. Different from a bank, the Company focuses on lending to small businesses seeking $5,000 to $500,000 in debt financing, and can fund a loan in as little as four days. For more information visit: www.caminofinancial.com
We often read stories about the habits of successful entrepreneurs like Elon Musk and Mark Zuckerberg, but what about the successful entrepreneur who runs a thriving local restaurant around the corner? Or the self-made construction worker turned real-estate tycoon? Since launching Camino Financial a year ago, we have been fortunate to engage over 1,000 small business owners and identify habits that make for successful businesses. Check out our list and share your reactions:
This may sound very intuitive, but it’s scary how often we encounter business owners who cannot identify the key performance metrics of their business. Key performance indicators (KPIs) of your business go beyond tracking sales. For a retailer, for instance, tracking gross margin and inventory turnover are important to manage profitability and operating efficiencies. Small business owners also need to establish adequate reporting systems to track these metrics. Jim Teague, a Senior Consultant at Jay Groe & Associates, says it best: “If you are not measuring, you are not managing.”
Small business owners often wear many hats at work, from hiring new employees to sweeping the floors. Unfortunately, this makes it difficult for the owner to take a step back and plan for the future. Proper business planning requires evaluating historical performance and re-allocating resources to drive future growth. The process of creating a business and financial plan is more important than the plan itself. Business owners that periodically take time out of their “normal” schedule to plan for the future are more likely to identify new growth opportunities or find ways to improve their existing operations.
Great small business owners know when to ask for help. When building a team, business owners should build a team with a diverse skill set. There is a LOT of value in diversity while recruiting those aligned with the company’s culture. In addition, furthering education of current team members can be a great way to cultivate strong talent and retain them. Business owners can also seek help from external advisors and business consultants to get a fresh perspective on how to improve their business. It takes a team to build a stable and thriving business.
Establishing routines help minimize distractions and create discipline for efficiently moving tasks forward. In addition, routines make owners accountable for key tasks, especially those they don’t like doing. Most recently, a successful entrepreneur shared a routine: he drafts email responses for Monday morning on Sunday evening. This routine makes him more efficient on Monday mornings, avoiding distractions with “catching up” on stale emails. Routines are often confused as deterrents for innovation. To avoid deterrents to innovation, business owners can organize weekly break-out sessions with team members to brainstorm new ideas.
By far the most common trait of successful business owners is curiosity and hunger to learn new things. Successful business owners are often self-aware of what they know, and what they don’t know. For example, we have witnessed successful entrepreneurs actively learning about how to adopt emerging technology; or often read trade magazines to follow trends, influencers and competitors in the industry. Quality learning is also a function of finding new sources of information, such as networking with non-industry advisors or partnering with organizations with a diverse set of professionals.
Perspectivas Profesionales is a new monthly section in El Mundo Boston featuring the leading Latino voices from the world of business and entrepreneurship. For more content like this click here. Puedes leer este artículo en español aquí
Sean co-founded Camino Financial. Previously, he worked at a private equity fund where he helped manage several companies with over $250 million in combined revenue. Before then, Sean worked as an investment banker in consumer and retail. He holds a MBA from Harvard Business School and a BA from UC Berkeley.