While rapid advances in information technology have drastically changed the face of business over the past 20 years, there are certain fundamental principles that persevere. These 7 time-tested concepts are essential for any small business owner:
1. Maintain a positive, realistic attitude and limit your view of failure.
You were not born an entrepreneur! Being an entrepreneur means that you are stepping outside your comfort zone. You want to be successful at something you have created or have a vision. First, look into the proverbial mirror and evaluate your strengths and weaknesses. Define who you are and answer the following questions:
- Do you have a positive attitude?
- Can you be realistic with your expectations?
- Can you handle mild failures and redirect your efforts to keep on track? Failures are only a bump in the road and should be viewed as learning opportunities. Capitalize on your failure; do not dwell on it.
- Are you following your passion and what you know about yourself? Great entrepreneurs are passionate about what they do, and it is contagious!
If you can answer yes to all of the above, you’re on the right track to success.
2. Define a business strategy and focus.
Define your goals at the start of the month, quarter and year. Accept and listen to input, but always make sure you are heading down your vision path. Do not lose focus on the path. Listen to friends, relatives, business associates and employees and take “best practices” from each. Say thank you and keep moving forward with your strategy. Focus on your idea, demonstrate it, deliver it and gain customer acceptance. Respect for your customer means having a passion to help them achieve their goals.
3. Cash flow is KING!
Make sure you are properly capitalized at the start and have enough cash flow to sustain business down-turns. Make sure you understand where the cash is coming in, going and how to control the flow. Sign and review every check so that you understand the expenses and review customer revenues. If you don’t, hire a bookkeeper or an accountant until you completely understand the business cash flow. Cash flow is not profit or loss! It is the amount of cash coming in the door minus what is going out. It is your lifeline to your future! If it scares you, it should — but you will gain a greater understanding of the business. This will allow you to sleep at night.
4. This is not a 40 hour week.
You will work your tail off for a period of time. There are no shortcuts or magic wands. It is not easy. Never, never, quit — be a bulldog. If it were easy, everyone would do it. Your business is your baby and your future. Success comes from hard, smart work! Work effectively and delegate where possible. Remember, you do have another life, but remain committed to your goals.
5. Define what you consider success so that you have a way to measure your small business.
There are many ways to measure your success as a growing small business, but these are a few basic points to review when analyzing your achievements:
- How profitable are you?
- Are you growing the customer base and seeing repeat customers?
- Are your customers satisfied? Do you have an excellent reputation for service and quality? Both are indications that your business understands the needs of your customer.
- When your customer needs help, are you able to provide the service that helps them through their business issues?
- Have you established a brand recognition that is recognized as the go-to product or service?
- What drives you to succeed? Is your passion for your work being fulfilled?
6. Identify risk and remain flexible
Business risk can come in all forms and shapes. Some risk may be mitigated by insurance (fire, damage to reputation) and others cannot. The key is be aware of your competition, be honest, understand the current state of economics, and if applicable, the regulatory environment. Focus will help you adapt to industry and technology changes — those who do not adapt and evolve will not succeed. Remain curious and be open to innovation.
7. Hire good people
Hire employees who complement your weaknesses and understand your vision. If you find you have made a poor hiring decision, do not hesitate to take action, whether it’s a reassignment or simply letting go. Every employee must fit your organization’s needs.
Adhering to these 7 timeless principles will guarantee the best possible chance of success for your small business by building and maintaining a strong foundation on which to grow. Contact us about making sure you have all the tools you need!