You start a business with the hope of seeing it succeed. You put a lot of passion, time, money and resources to the business — whether your goal is for your business to become the next buzzword or to just earn enough to support your family.
Sometimes your new business succeeds, and sometimes it fails despite all your hard work and efforts.
What makes a new business succeed? Success needs more than just your best efforts, but other elements to blend in together and work in your favor. Here are 12 factors that are important in creating and building a successful start up business:
1. Have a long-term vision
Develop a clear short and long term vision for your business. Your vision will give you purpose and help you keep focused on what you want the business to achieve. Without vision, your business cannot prosper and grow because you are reduced to keeping things the way they have always been.
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The power of your vision and your devotion to it work to inspire others– who, sensing purpose and commitment, respond. Your vision will help your clients understand what you and your business stand for, and keep your employees and investors (if any) focused on your goals. Then set your strategies and your goals, clearly specifying a definitive time plan for achieving it.
2. Hire the best people – and manage them well.
For a solo entrepreneur, you are your own business. Run your business with aplomb, but do not forget to take care of yourself as well. Nourish your personal self, spend time with family and friends, and congratulate yourself for all the little milestones you achieve as you start your business.
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Even as a solo entrepreneur, you may need some outside assistance – e.g. virtual assistant to help with day-to-day tasks, accountants for bookkeeping and tax preparation, or even a web developer. When choosing outside contractors, always go for quality and not necessarily the price. You should only focus on the best for your business, even though that might not be the cheapest.
But as your business grow, you will be faced with the enormous task of hiring and managing other people. The quality of your team will spell a huge difference in the success – or failure – of your business. In fact, many successful entrepreneurs consider the quality of people as key to success. Find people who share your passion and vision for what you want to accomplish with the business. Look for people who are ready to fully commit themselves to your business.
Then work hard to keep your good people. Make them feel that their contributions to your business are important. Invest in your people, and they will appreciate working for your company.
3. Keep your focus.
In today’s tough and highly competitive environment, focus is a key ingredient to the success of your business. It is important to identify and concentrate on making the unique aspects of your business as superb as possible.
Be clear what your business stands for, and stick to it. You don’t have to grab all opportunities that come your way or try to do too much too quickly. Keep your eyes on the prize and spend your resources, time and energy in focusing on the attainment of your goals — running and developing a successful, profitable and viable business. Every day, your focus should be on how to further enhance your business.
4. Innovate; don’t duplicate.
Even in the midst of success stories (think successful Web 2.0 startups), it is important to “do your thing.” Think differently and resist the urge to be a clone. Sometimes when you hear a success story, the instinct is to copy them outright and hope that you’ll enjoy the same success as they are having.
Your business is unique, and the factors that worked for others may not be present in your situation. Instead of copying others, differentiate yourself through your concept or presentation. You may be offering the same products, but clearly define your unique selling proposition to help users see your business apart from your competitors. This is how Joost, the p2p on demand video player that offers professional programming, differentiates itself from YouTube. PlentyofFish.com and Match.com are both dating sites, but their business models are vastly different with the former free and the latter a paid service.
5. Keep realistic expectations.
Starting a business is not easy. You’ve heard the statistics that 80 percent of all small businesses fail within five years – yet you think that yours is going to be different. Good for you to have that kind of optimism! But don’t forget for a minute that making money is hard, period. For some, it even takes up to a month, or worse, even six months before they even get a sale!
If you’re making a business plan, think and re-think the assumptions that you are using. Are you really going to have that much sales in the first year? Are your marketing strategies and manpower resources aligned to support your sales number? Are you clear about the risks and stumbling blocks your business may face? Revenues are not going to come instantly, and customers are not going to be banging on your door immediately. Despite your best hopes, the reality may be different, and you’ll fare much better to know it – and keep it in front of you – beforehand.
6. Have a clear understanding of the market and your competition.
Businesses do not operate out of a vacuum, and it is important to learn as much as you can about the industry, the market and the players. Market climate, user trends, technology innovation, even the economy, can all affect how your company does and who it attracts You need to recognize competitive threats and opportunities; in order to give you time to prepare contingencies for either.
By understanding the market, you will be forced to maintain a market-focus. It is important to know how you fit in and what your competitive advantage and core competencies are. Ask yourself what unique services/products do you bring to the table that is not easily replicable.
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