10 Ways to Succeed with Your Business
If you’re like many aspiring entrepreneurs, starting your own business and working independently is your dream. But just because you have big dreams doesn’t mean they will automatically come true; it takes work to run a successful business. Here are 10 ways to be sure that your business will achieve success and help you realize your entrepreneurial dreams.
1) Don’t follow trends
Just because something is popular, it doesn’t mean it’s right for your business. Trends come and go; chances are you won’t benefit from following them at all. Whether you want a trendy logo or shop in a popular mall, your decision should be based on what makes sense for your business, not what seems like it would be fun or bring in tons of customers (even if those things happen).
The best way to determine what’s best for your business is by looking at your goals and asking yourself: Will doing X help me reach my goals? If so, do it. If not, don’t. It may seem simple—and that’s because it is!
2) Strive for perfection
perfection is not a prerequisite for success, but it helps. A lot. Do your best to make mistakes as quickly as possible and find solutions for them before you reach your audience. If that’s not possible, be sure to apologize publicly so people know how seriously you take your business. In addition, understand that new businesses are risky by nature; don’t set yourself up for disappointment or frustration by thinking everything will always go perfectly according to plan, things won’t. And if they do, chances are it won’t last long anyway. So accept that things might not work out exactly as you expect, and learn from every experience. The more you learn about what works (and what doesn’t), the better prepared you’ll be to handle any situation in which your business may fail.
3) Fail fast, learn from your mistakes
Too many entrepreneurs are afraid of failure, but successful businesses learn from their failures and don’t give up. Keep at it and you’ll get there. When you start a business, it can be hard to make it through those first days, weeks and months. Don’t be afraid to try new things or even fail. The only way you can learn is by experience, so don’t let mistakes hold you back or make you stop in your tracks.
4) Listen to your customers
When you’re starting out, your customers will be your best guide for how to improve your business. So if a lot of people are asking for one feature or another on social media, listen up! If you want customers to buy from you again and again, then show them that they can trust you by listening. As a rule of thumb, if you’re thinking of adding a new feature or changing any part of your service or product, ask yourself Does my customer really need this? Or is it just me being lazy? The answer might surprise you. And, remember: This goes both ways—if your customers have a complaint about something you’ve done, do whatever you can to fix it as quickly as possible.
5) Take calculated risks
The best entrepreneurs are willing to take risks. It’s impossible to succeed without a little daring. Taking calculated risks is different from outright gambling. Do your research, and make sure you have enough money saved up so that you won’t be put in a difficult financial position if things don’t work out as planned.
6) Spend time with like-minded people
If you don’t have any entrepreneurial friends, it might be a good idea to find some. Joining a local meetup group is one way—as is just hanging out in coffee shops and business centers where you can make new friends. If you spend time around people who want what you want, success will seem much more achievable. Who knows? Maybe some of your new friends will even end up helping you build your business one day. (Hey, stranger things have happened.)
7) Live life on purpose
A successful business is a purpose-driven business. This can mean many things, but ultimately it means that your personal values and ideals should drive every aspect of your business. Of course, what these values and ideals are may change over time. Nevertheless, when you’re stuck on how to get a jump start on your career, try reflecting on what’s important in life and then consider where your skills align with these values.
For example, if living an eco-friendly lifestyle is important to you, perhaps you could pursue a career in sustainability consulting or green marketing. If making an impact through your work matters most to you, perhaps entrepreneurship or social enterprise would be more suitable for your skill set. And if giving back is at the core of who you are as a person, perhaps starting a nonprofit or volunteering at one would help fulfill those goals while also providing direction for your professional path forward.
8) Keep an open mind
Most people think about what would be an ideal business for them. But instead of thinking about it, why not try something new? Keep an open mind and approach a niche that interests you, but doesn’t sound like your typical type of business. For example, if you’re passionate about animals, why not start a dog walking or pet-sitting service in your town? Maybe you love books and want to become a book editor; perhaps opening up a bookstore is more feasible than you thought.
The possibilities are endless! You might find out that you actually enjoy something completely different from what you originally thought. Or maybe not, but at least now you know, right? And even if your first attempt at entrepreneurship isn’t successful, you can use these experiences as learning opportunities to hone in on what kind of work best suits your personality and skillset.
9) Focus on the value you offer others
When you focus on other people’s needs, you create something of value, and you also help ensure that your business doesn’t fail. According to Dan S. Kennedy, a speaker and author of No B.S. Marketing to the Affluent, Businesses fail when they are built around what I call ‘product myopia.’ That is when businesses spend all their time trying to make sure they have a great product or service instead of making sure they understand what their customers want and need. It’s not about what you sell; it’s about why they buy. And if you don’t know why they buy, then how can you possibly be successful?
10) Create a community of support
It’s easier than ever before to find like-minded people across a vast network of forums, blogs and social media—and your new business will be no exception. Tap into these networks (without relying solely on them) and you can connect with people who have similar goals and experiences as you; they can be invaluable when it comes time for your product or service rollout.
At times, you may even want to bring in an expert from outside your industry, for example, if you’re writing a book about how to start a business, you might want to bring in an editor or marketing expert. Don’t feel like that has to break the bank either: Many professionals are willing to work with first-time entrepreneurs for very little money upfront in exchange for getting their name out there. After all, what better way is there for an expert to build his reputation?