The keys to business success eludes most business owners. It is widely known that, on average, 20% of new businesses fail during the first two years of start-up, 45% fail during the first five years, and 65% shut down during the first 10 years. Only about 25% of new businesses make it to 15 years or more. So how can your business be among the 25%? Let’s explore the “how”! Don’t ignore these keys to success!
“The road to success and the road to failure are almost exactly the same.” – Colin R. Davis.
Keys to Business Success – A 20-Point Exhaustive Checklist
Invest in Your Education
Perhaps the most important of the keys to business success is learning. While it may not always be a prerequisite to running a successful business (and the examples are numerous), whenever you can, don’t pass an opportunity to learn. Whenever the opportunity presents itself, take it up and acquire as much knowledge as you can. That includes management, business start-up strategy, organization or financial management, etc. It may not even be an immediate skill/piece of knowledge you need right away. But having it in your toolbox will pay dividends when you need it.
“The best investment is in the tools of one’s own trade.” – Benjamin Franklin
Be Action-Oriented: Number 1 of the Top Keys to Business Success
Gaining knowledge and new insight or relevant skills is critical in running a business, no doubt. However, your plans and goals should be action-oriented – be swift to act. My coaching clients understand this one of the most important keys to business success. Business coaching clients who take action get spectacular results!
Many persons have imagined and envisioned themselves owning and running a successful business. However most rob themselves of their dreams because they fail to act on it. Don’t hide behind research to delay and procrastinate in starting your business or moving it to a realm of greater success. Many people suffer from “paralysis by analysis.” Don’t do that! Take action now. Apply the knowledge you already have. You’ll have more opportunities to learn on the way, both from experience and from other structured learning programs.
No matter how much knowledge you may have, it’ll matter very little to your goal of a successful business if you fail to act. Dreams are dreams and will remain imaginary until it is accompanied by a corresponding action. Turn a dream into an action by setting a due date and telling others about your goal.
“There’s no shortage of remarkable ideas, what’s missing is the will to execute them.” – Seth Godin
“The way to get started is to quit talking and begin doing.” – Walt Disney
Present Relevant Products
Now, it’s time to face the question, “What goods/services will I be supplying? Are they relevant to the community of consumers?”. What you supply should be relevant to the consumers; they should want what you have, else they’ll not come for it and that spells failure. Your product should fit the target market, or it will be irrelevant. The greater the need for your product or service, the greater the demand, and the more relevant you become.
“Far and away the best prize that life offers is the chance to work hard at work worth doing.” – Theodore Roosevelt
Perhaps you’ve already started a business and are looking to expand it to more successful heights. Carefully consider what you have to offer and weigh it against the needs of the consumers. You may need to change or modify the goods/services you offer to accommodate customer preferences. A good example today is the rising need for online services and online sales as opposed to in-person transactions.
“Play by the rules, but be ferocious.” – Phil Knight
Build a competent team
Most often than not, small businesses thrive when there is teamwork. As such, one of the important keys to success in your business, you must carefully select those you want on your team. Being the business owner, especially in small- to medium-sized business, you’re most likely in charge of making hiring decisions. As such, strive to hire those who have the necessary skill set to fit in your business to accomplish the set goals. Create the ideal employee profile in advance and then compare your candidates to the profile.
When we speak of a team, we are referring to those serving in various areas of the business, be it accountants, consultants, business attorneys or sales agents. Their effectiveness in their delegated responsibilities will reflect on the overall success of the business. Consider those who have the necessary experience, which may include working in similar businesses or industries before hiring them.
“The successful warrior is the average man, with laser-like focus.” – Bruce Lee
Learn from Others – One of the Most Important Keys to Business Success
Along with a formal education, one of the keys to business success is don’t be afraid to learn from others. Wherever possible, connect with other business owners and try to learn a thing to two from their experiences, and how they’ve been successful. Of course, you can only learn from someone who has something to give. You can’t achieve success by learning from a failure, can you? Actually you can! Learning from other’s failures can be very instructive.
But when you get the chance to gain insight and inspiration from another successful business owner, especially in a similar field to what you’re doing, seize the opportunity. Also, don’t be shy or afraid to share your successes as well as failures and challenges you face, as it creates more opportunities for learning and growth.
You can also find yourself a mentor or business coach. These people can help navigate you through the ocean of business and guide you as you venture into your own business. Having these contacts with others can be important. Their wisdom, successes, and even failures can guide you and keep you from making similar unnecessary mistakes.
But be mindful, “Success usually comes to those who are too busy to be looking for it.” – Henry David Thoreau.
Have a well-strategized business plan
The business plan defines how the business will function and with what strategies. This plan maps out the target market in view. You want a clearly established and attainable vision as well as the methods to achieve that vision. The business plan also defines financial and staffing projections, and the goods/services rendered. A well-strategized business plan will keep you and the team well organized, focused, and motivated. Business plans aren’t for show. All decisions and steps you take should be in line with the clearly defined plan. You should also create plans for activities like meetings, exhibitions, or even promotional activities.
It is, however, important to note that you will continually revise and tailor the business idea as you develop the plan. This plan will be updated and amended as you engage in the business and deploy the plan. The strategy may need to be modified, staffing projections altered, and even goods/services rendered changed to meet consumer preferences. The keys to success greatly hinge on the business plan, so carefully strategize your plan for success and stay focused on it.
“There are no secrets to success. It is the result of preparation, hard work and learning from failure.” – Colin Powell
Expand Your Financial Knowledge
Finance is a very crucial aspect of your business. Your effective management and mastery of it is another of the keys to business success. Even when you have a great plan, with a committed team, how you manage the business’ finances will determine the success of the business.
So, invest and learn basic aspects of finance including how to create a budget, saving, and accountability in business. At some point you will invest in a finance person, accountant or bookkeeper. But it’s great to be able to handle and review financial statements and have enough knowledge to fully understand the profits the business is generating. For example, being able to balance out income and expenses from the business can enable you to make statistically sound and strategic decisions. Errors in cash flow can pull even a successful business into the pit of failure.
Also, it is important to understand the types and amount of taxes you pay, when you pay and how those balance in your balance sheet. Knowledge of insurance and loans will go a long way to boost the keys to success of the business, so be wise to invest in your education.
“The best investment is in the tools of one’s own trade.” – Benjamin Franklin.
Have an effective working process
Small businesses often have small staff, and struggle with getting things done and on time too. As such, there is often the feeling there isn’t always enough time to accomplish all designated tasks, and that can be true. To manage this, you create systems. To be successful, your business needs to be well organized. For example, you can lay down a process for handling taxes monthly, or even handling invoices. Such processes spell out every action at every step of the activity chain, thereby reducing the chances of mistakes. This will save time and enhance the chances of achieving success in the business. And when you delegate these tasks to your staff and ensure the processes are followed, you can rest assured they’ll get the job done right. This will allow you to focus on other aspects of the business for growth and ultimately achieve the keys to business success.
“Even if you are on the right track, you’ll get run over if you just sit there.” – Will Rodgers
Take advantage of targeted advertising
Another of the keys to success comes with increased profit, which comes from increased customers. Now, how do you get more customers to know and demand your goods/services? Marketing, that’s how. You can’t get customers to a business they don’t know about. It doesn’t matter whether you have a physical sales point or use e-commerce facilities. You should have targeted marketing/advertising strategies to expand your customer base.
You must find types of marketing and advertising that are most effective and would make the greatest impact on your particular business. When you have good marketing and advertisement strategies implemented, more peoples will come to know of your business. More customers will be added, thereby increasing the scope of the business and ultimately tending towards success.
“If you really want to do something, you’ll find a way. If you don’t, you’ll find an excuse.” – Jim Rohn
Build Customer Loyalty- Important Keys to Business Success
One of the important keys to business success is loyalty to its customers. Building loyalty to and from customers can take a significant length of time. But once established, it can ensure consistent revenue and referrals by satisfied customers. So, be diligent and consistent at what developing relationships.
To build customer loyalty, you must consistently provide good customer service. People remember good customer service and easily get attached to such a business. People want to be treated well. When you achieve this consistently, customers will feel comfortable frequenting your business, being confident that they’d be treated well.
Communicate the business vision and mission to customers: When customers can understand your vision, what you stand for, and your policies, they can easily decide if they want to align themselves to your business, to become part of what you’re building.
Communicate the value of the goods/services your business provides. Sometimes, people may not fully understand why what you sell is of any importance to them. It is your job to enlighten them if you want to make a profit. Make customers see the importance of choosing the goods/services you offer and they’ll get “hooked” on your products when they do.
“To succeed, we must first believe that we can.” – Nikos Kazantzakis
Build on your interests- Important Keys to Business Success
On an individual level, what are your interests? What do you enjoy doing? What do you like to do? One of the most important keys to business success is engaging your interests in business. Getting involved in what appeals to you will go a long way to define your enthusiasm and devotion to the business venture and ultimately the success of the business. Don’t just do what you have to; do what you want to! When you engage in what interests you, you’ll be more devoted, working harder at it with passion, and ultimately, you’ll reap the rewards. When you engage in what appeals to you personally, you’ll easily find ways to succeed at it.
For example, if you’re drawn to phones and gadgets, then dealing in mobile phones or consumer electronics may be of more appeal to you than engaging a clothing line. You’ll be more likely to passionately engage the former and find more ways to be successful than the latter.
“Stop chasing the money and start chasing the passion.” – Tony Hsieh
“Success is not the key to happiness. Happiness is the key to success. If you love what you are doing, you will be successful.” – Albert Schweitzer
Create Business Networks
In business, you can’t and shouldn’t try to be an island. Be open to creating networks in your business. Even when on vacation, when you attend social events or personal interactions, keep your eyes and ears open to every opportunity. Connect with people for the betterment of your business. This might include other business owners, potential clients or partners. Such connections can happen at any time. Be keen to make the most of every opportunity and talk business.
“Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.” – Thomas Edison
The ultimate goal of every business is to reduce costs and maximize profits. So be open to new ideas to maximize available resources to profit. Brainstorm with your employees to find better approaches. Develop new ways to save on costs that do not conflict with your values and mission. This will positively impact the profits generated by the business and steer your business in the path to achieving the keys to success.
“Would you like me to give you a formula for success? It’s quite simple, really: Double your rate of failure. You are thinking of failure as the enemy of success. But it isn’t at all. You can be discouraged by failure or you can learn from it, so go ahead and make mistakes. Make all you can. Because remember that’s where you will find success.” – Thomas J. Watson
As a business owner, you should have protective measures in place for your assets. For example, you should function in such a way that you don’t lose your house or car if someone sues your company. Liability insurance can, thus, be useful. Also, have a legal team to work this out and keep them posted on the developments and changes in your business so they can better shield you from any fallouts in the business. Regularly consult with them to ensure you make the right moves legally about your business.
“Success seems to be connected with action. Successful people keep moving. They make mistakes, but they don’t quit.” – Conrad Hilton
Keep Detailed Records
When it comes to record-keeping, successful business owners understand its importance and they keep good records. Records help you to keep track of the progress of the business, the financial standing of the business, and existing challenges in the business. Records highlight trends in the functioning of the business. They help the management to make statistically accurate decisions based on facts. Knowing is half the solution.
“The only limit to our realization of tomorrow will be our doubts of today.” – Franklin D. Roosevelt
Know Your Competition
Competition brings out the best in a business. Know your competition. Study them and learn from them. When you have competing businesses in the same domain as you, it pays to know them and possibly their modus operandi. It is possible to learn from your competition, especially when you feel the competition is fierce. They might be doing something you aren’t that is getting the results you desire.
Don’t be afraid of the competition. Embrace it and use it for the advancement of your business. “Every problem is a gift—without problems, we would not grow.” – Anthony Robbins
Don’t be afraid to take the risks or fail
Another of the keys to business success is owners who are not afraid to take calculated risks for the growth and betterment of their businesses. For every venture you intend to engage in, you must clearly establish the worst-case scenario, accept it, and strategically proceed. Some risks are necessary to be successful and some risks are unnecessary, but you must not be afraid of taking risks.
Well-calculated risks can also include the timing of starting or expanding your business. When is it the right time to make a move in advancing your business? What is your perspective when others see impediments and setbacks?
“Almost everything worthwhile carries with it some sort of risk, whether it’s starting a new business, whether it’s leaving home, whether it’s getting married, or whether it’s flying into space.” – Chris Hadfield
Be Creative and Innovative
To be successful, you must be constantly innovating, making out new opportunities for an increase. Also, be open to ideas from any and every source. You’re not omniscient, so pay attention to ideas and innovations from others towards your business. Paying attention doesn’t mean you’ll commit to those ideas, but be open to consider them carefully.
“Forget past mistakes. Forget failures. Forget everything except what you’re going to do now and do it.” – William Durant
Stay Focused and Consistent
When it comes to business, you’ll not likely become a success overnight. As such, be patient, focused, and consistent in what you do. Consistency will put you on the map of many customers. You must keep at it, day in and day out, to establish long-term habits and loyalties that will pay dividends in the long run. Remember, “Rome wasn’t built in a day.”
“If you really look closely, most overnight successes took a long time.” – Steve Jobs
Be ready to make the necessary sacrifices
The last of the keys to business success isn’t always a cakewalk and you must be ready to endure what it takes to be successful. It may entail cutting back on your leisure activities, sleep, personal expenditures, etc. You must be ready to make the necessary sacrifices and establish a balance in all things.
“Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experience of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, ambition inspired and success achieved.” – Helen Keller
There you have it! With these tips and inspiration, you’ll surely elevate your business to higher heights and achieve the keys to business success.
Whether you think you can or whether you think you can’t, you’re right!” – Henry Ford