So you’re thinking of running a business or want to check that the business you’ve started is on the right track for business success or survival, the following are my six steps for success in business. In this blog I look at what early stage business owners need to think about to ensure their business survives, I look at some of the common ‘rules’ and explain why you need to go a step further than that to be successful.

Before I get into the tips, let me give you some freebies. Running a business is *insert appropriate poor language* hard.  I laugh when I read books or tips that suggest that running a business is easy, something everyone should try or the better choice. I’ll tell you right now it’s not. It’s the hard choice, the choice you should really only take if you have no other option.  It’s a time when you have to park excuses to one side and accept that whatever happens or doesn’t it’s all down to you. You are behind the wheel on a journey where the desired destination is known but the route is not clear – your best choice is to put your foot down on the accelerator and go full throttle taking out any obstacles in your way.

OK I might have been a little dramatic in my opening with the scene setting, but if you’re still reading then I haven’t scared you too much and as a reward here are Six Tips I have for Business Success;

  1. There is no I in what? Team …… OK I agree but more importantly there is no I in entrepreneur. Too many business people start to build their business thinking about themselves a problem that they have and a solution they have to solve it. You need to involve as many people as possible in your idea generation and even more so when you are building the  business. Find successful people that have traveled the road you are about to and get as much advice from them as possible. Ask them what to avoid. There is no excuse to be locked in a room by yourself thinking that it’s the world against you. Open up to networks and great resources like Smarta and find people that can help you grow your business.
  2. Most of us have probably heard make sure there is a gap in the market. More importantly you have to make sure there is a market in the gap. Countless times people come to me with ideas where they’ve spotted a gap or an opportunity, but what they haven’t thought if it’s actually a marketable opportunity. Can you make money from the opportunity you have discovered and enough of it? I’ve thought of a great idea … A chocolate tea pot, that doesn’t exist, so it’s a gap in the market…. Can you see where I’m going here? Or conversely those people that want to solve a global issue, with a lack of resource, if you’re a start up first think locally. A great way to test if there’s a market for your idea is by asking people and getting feedback as soon and as often as possible. Can you create a tester and encourage people to buy? Perhaps a crowd funding campaign?
  3. Another common rule that doesn’t quite go far enough is the adage “it’s not about what you know it’s about who you know”. Yes, I certainly agree with the power of your network, some of the opportunities I’ve got are all about the great network I have access to … however … really it’s about who knows you and what you’re doing. Whatever it is you’re doing you need to be a key player or a Key Person of Influence as Daniel Priestely might say. No longer is it OK to just aim to be the best at what you do, you have to be the only person that does what you do, how you do it! So spread the word about what you do and what makes your service, product or business different from all of the others
  4. Customers. Customers. Customers. You get this right and you’ve got it right … right? Wrong! I’d say you don’t want customers what you really want is fans. The best example of this is Apple. Most people don’t just like Apple products, they adore and advocate them and are proud to boast to all their friends (and anyone else that will listen) how great Apple products are. People buy from people and customer recommendations are and have always been the most valuable currency in the business marketing world. Can you incentivise your customers into fans and repeat buyers? How can you make it easy for them to spread the word about your business?
  5. Ditch this whole CEO, Entrepreneur, Managing Director, Director, CFO crap, You are a sales person, stick that on your business card! Until such time you have a sales team, or have sold the business your primary job is to make sales. Even when you have a team to manage – what should they spend most/some of their time doing, , making sales! Too many people get caught up trying to do the pretty side of entrepreneurship, planning, networking,  having meetings, visiting mentors but forget the primary objective is to sale.
  6. Lastly and maybe most importantly – Jessie J says it’s not about the money, money, money .. BUT  she has a net worth of £5m+, so when your profits start to hit £1m+ you too can worry less about money. Until then my friend whether it’s a social venture or a profit making system it’s all about the money, money, money and don’t you forget that. High volume and high margins is the ideal formula, if you can’t achieve this at least the margin or the volume has to be high. Get that right and 1 to 5 will be much easier

OK I’m going to stop there, there are probably other steps I could have added to make it seven or ten, but how about you help me out. What are your favourite tips from the ones above? What are some of the golden rules you think you need to stick to for business success? Share your feedback and comments below so you can help others who are just starting out or reviewing their start up.

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