7 keys to success for business

It’s a sad statistic that half of all start-up businesses will fail in their first few years. There are lots of reasons, and each failure is likely be as a result of a different combination of several.

A common theme, according to highly successful businessman Theo Paphitis, is that those setting sail on the sea of entrepreneurship haven’t prepared for the voyage, and the lack of preparation leads to their failure.

There’s a great deal of advice out there, but we’d like to add our seven tips for success that have stood us in good stead, and helped us grow our business. We hope you find them useful too.

1. Plan: Have a proper business strategy. Start by asking yourself where you want to be in three to five years. When you have the answer, you’ll have to decide what you need to do to get there. The decisions you make will probably change the plan as you go along, so be prepared for flexibility. Embrace change for the better.

business-plan1-300x3002. Prepare: What’s the market for your product or service? Is it a crowded marketplace? If it is, why should people do business with you rather than their existing suppliers? If it isn’t, analyse the reasons for that. Have you really found a revolutionary product or technique that a niche market is crying out for, or have others tried and failed, because demand isn’t there? What makes your product different – in short, what’s its unique selling point?

3. Have patience: Next year, Rodney, we’ll be millionaires. It didn’t happen for DelBoy, and it’s highly unlikely to happen for you. When building a house you have to dig down into the ground before you start building upwards. Building a business is the same. A solid superstructure can only be built on firm foundations. Simply following a dream doesn’t make a firm foundation.

4. Get funding: You could ask the bank, but today you’d be as well looking at other ideas. Grants are available, and you might like to think about crowdfunding, with large numbers of investors supporting your idea with small amounts. Funding targets really can be achieved in minutes.

5. Measure: Measure everything. People will tell you there are things you can’t measure. We’d like to suggest they’re wrong. Only by understanding what’s happening in your business and your market will you know where the value is, and where the costs are being incurred. The information is out there if you’re prepared to mine for it. And that includes customer information too. It’s no good having the shiniest, longest-lasting widget on the market if your widget is a commodity that the market buys on price.

help-for-success1-300x1986. Get help: Starting a business will make you time poor. Get professionals alongside you to free up time for building the business. A good accountant, for example, will do much more than add up your numbers at the year-end. They work with business, and will be only too pleased to be a sounding board for your ideas. (If they’re not, are you with the right accountant?) Resist bouncing ideas off loved ones; their objectivity can be skewed.

7. Persist:  We leave the last one to others. Attributed to US President Calvin Coolidge and sometimes to Ray Kroc, the man who took the McDonald brothers’ burger restaurant idea and made it global, is this comment: Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not: nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not: the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent.