Five Keys to a Successful Business
The most optimistic and often the most crazy people in the world are business owners. Nobody starts a business expecting it to fail. Our idea is great, we are certain that it will succeed (where others have failed), and this will make a significant impact on our lives. We wouldn’t take on the risk of borrowing money or investing our own money to start our business if we didn’t feel this way. According to the SBA, more than 50% of businesses fail within the first three years. Even if you get there, it is possible to go horribly wrong. This was what many experienced business owners discovered during the recession that hit us in 2009-2012.
Does this mean you shouldn’t start a business? No. Your business can be a great success if you approach it correctly, avoid making the same mistakes, and keep your eyes on the prize. These are my tips to ensure your business succeeds.
Let’s begin with you. Business owners who are successful are organized people. Businesses fail more often because their owners fail. To succeed, your business must be competitive. Everybody is trying to win as many customers as you do. If you don’t want to work hard and be disciplined, it is best not to get involved in business. Discipline is essential in any environment where there is competition. Even if you have the best idea or the most innovative skill, your business will not reach its full potential unless you have discipline.
Discipline refers to the determination to do what is right. You should not settle for substandard results. Instead, you must work hard until you have the skills and results you require to be competitive. If your product is not up to standard, no one will purchase it or hire you if your service isn’t up to the mark. A business discipline requires a keen eye for detail. Early in my career, I learned a valuable lesson. Once I was required to present a financial report to a senior executive. I felt confident that I had the knowledge and ability to make it work with minimal research and preparation. My presentation was shredded when I got to the meeting. I couldn’t answer obvious questions and didn’t have the details necessary to make my presentation convincing and credible. I was angry with myself, and not with the executive. You will never get it right as a business owner. There will be times when you make mistakes and get it wrong. You will make mistakes and mess up from time to time, but it shouldn’t be because you are lazy or if your product/service fails.
“A fool and his money are soon parted,” – Dr. John Bridges
William Shakespeare: “All that glitters, is not gold.”
These old sayings warn us that not all opportunities or business ideas are likely to be successful. Many con-artists are out there whose only purpose is to trick you into making financial promises and who will not hesitate to steal your money. You should do your research on all business ideas, franchises and entities you are considering buying or investing in. This is the reason many businesses fail. It all starts at the beginning.
For both start-ups and established businesses, due diligence is essential. Successful businesses do “due diligence” every day on their internal processes. This includes systems review, improvement of financial and strategic planning, as well as any expansion or acquisition. This is essential for start-ups before investing significant amounts of money. Do not listen to anyone who has vested interests in your decision. You might be thinking about investing in a franchise. Do not rely on the franchise vendor’s polished website or persuasive story to tell you how great this opportunity is and how much you will make. Before you make an investment, get independent advice.
Many people create businesses out of a passion for something they love. This is a great way to be successful, but it can also lead to making business decisions with your heart instead of your head. Sometimes, we get too involved in the project to be objective. This can lead to us becoming emotionally invested too early. An independent expert, such as a business coach or advisor, can be invaluable. Before they make the worst business decisions of their lives, potential business owners must hear the truth in a compassionate manner. Proverbs 27:6 says, “Faithful is the wounds of friends.” Don’t let anyone pressure you into making an investment in a “once in a lifetime, limited-space available” opportunity. When someone tells me that, I always take a step back and look at the offer from a different perspective. It’s better to miss a limited offer than rush to take advantage and risk losing your money.