Five pieces of business wisdom to celebrate five decades

Certain birthdays inspire us to reflect a little on where we’ve been and where we’re going in life. I turned 50 this week and had a wonderful weekend celebrating the milestone with family and friends.

One of the topics of conversation that came up was what I had learnt from the past five decades: what wisdom have I gleaned on this fabulous journey?

I thought a little about what have been the really big takeaways – the nuggets of wisdom that stood out as things I could pass on to others gathered from my experiences.

So here are five pieces of hard-won wisdom to celebrate five decades of being alive on this beautiful plant of ours.

1. Fear is useless – unbridled passion is fabulous!

Fear is useless and unbridled passion is fabulous! Looking back on all the experiences I’ve had, I can see the times when I’ve allowed fear to negatively control my spirit and actions.

It hasn’t been often, but fear is something we all have to face and master. I’ve always found the best way to confront my fears has been to throw myself at the thing that’s making me fearful and bear hug it into submission with passion!

2. Mindset wins – enthusiasm sells

Work hard on cultivating and developing a winning mindset. So much of what we do and don’t achieve in life comes from our habits and attitudes. Stay curious, stay hungry, and let your enthusiasm know no bounds. People are attracted to positive people, and your enthusiasm and energy will open doors and opportunities wherever you go.

3. Invest in yourself

Don’t expect others to look after your growth and development – you have to do it for yourself. Invest in your education, formal and informal. Always be on the lookout for ways to gain more knowledge and experience. Travel, try new things, and work with smart people who challenge you. You should invest in yourself, as the famous ad says, “because you’re worth it”.

4. Don’t be bullied

Learn to stand up for yourself and don’t get bullied by anyone. This is especially relevant if you’re an SME business owner, let alone a woman in business. Find your inner steel and face them down.

The more you stand up for yourself, the more it becomes a habit and the easier it becomes.

I started off working as a young woman in the consumer electronics industry in the UK at a time when women were not exactly abundant in that field. I’ve never been one to take a step back anyway, but working in that sort of environment really made me appreciate the power of standing up for yourself. It gave me respect for myself and it meant others respected me too.

5. Cashflow is king

This is one that I’ve learnt over my years in business, but particularly as the owner of a business: cashflow is king. It’s been said by so many business owners and it’s all true. Get your cashflow situation in order and you suddenly find you’re operating at a whole new level.

Put the systems in place, be proactive, and follow up. Don’t be afraid to be firm but polite with big companies and organisations about payments. You don’t owe them an apology for asking for what’s yours; they owe you for doing fabulous work for them! Steady cashflow in your business gives you the solid basis you need for planning and growing.

If there’s anything else I could add to these five pieces of wisdom it is to enjoy what you do, be good to yourself, and be good to those around you.

Fi Bendall is chief executive of The Bendalls Group, a business that leads STRATEGY : ADVOCACY : MOBILE delivering the business acumen to drive effective positive results in a disruptive economy for the C-suite. Fi has recently won a Westpac/AFR 2015 100 Women of Influence award.

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