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When You're an Entrepreneur, How Do You Keep the Music Playing?

Small business owners how to stay passionateA fairly forgettable movie in the 80s, "Best Friends," featured one of the most beautiful songs ever written about relationships and keeping them growing, yet constantly fresh, "How Do You Keep the Music Playing?" 

For entrepreneurs, the same principle applies. You always want your company to grow but, at the same time, you want to keep it fresh. You don't want to lose that "start-up" spirit, that feeling of a place where employees can't wait to come to work in the morning and where you have to chase them out at the end of each day. A place where customers just love doing business with you. A place you're proud to call your own.

But how do you keep that music playing?

How do you ensure that you don't become a place where employees refer to executive management as "corporate" or customer-facing staff hide behind "our policy" as a response to customer inquiries or problems?  Or customers not only don't feel the love, but feel like they almost have to beg to do business with you. It's something to which entrepreneurs have to pay constant attention and continually work at.Your small business' future depends on it.

So, here is some critical advice for how to keep your environment continually fresh, continually entrepreneurial:

Be constantly in touch with your market.

Maintain an ongoing understanding of and visibility in your specific industry/niche market. This includes more than passing understanding of your competition, especially new entrants. It also includes understanding what industry "hot buttons" are and acclimating products and marketing, so that your strategies are ones of anticipation rather than reaction.

Make "nimble" a priority

Declare a constant war on bureaucracy. No procedures that can't be explained in two short paragraphs or less. Review all corporate policies at least twice a year. Keep the organization "lean and mean," always endeavoring to leverage resources, doing more with less and with a continuing ability to pivot in markets and with products, regardless of how big the company grows.

Employees drive the numbers

Make it a place where they feel included, challenged, respected and listened to. Maintain a policy of constant and open communication with employees.

The "rank and file" should know and understand what the critical numbers are as well as executive management.

Make it an environment of accountability, where you give employees sufficient authority to carry out their role, hold them responsible for that role and tie compensation and performance together.

Show customers some love

Make each customer feel like they are your only customer. From the second they become a customer, smother them with service. Give them a place where they can go for information; a number they can call and reach a live person or get training and tutorials that help them become a zealot for your product. Get and listen to their feedback through periodic surveys. Have a way for customers to talk among themselves. Both of these will help you keep your products current with market needs and craft future product offerings.

Launching a start-up is a huge challenge, making it a success an even greater one. But the biggest one is while you succeed to not lose what made you successful...that entrepreneurial spirit from the founder right down to newest staff member. To keep the music playing, you have to live that music every day. Your future depends on it!

"The Entrepreneur's Yoda" knows these things.He's been there. May success be with you!

How do you keep the music playing in your business? Include the story in your comments. It will help other entrepreneurs!

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