The Few. The Proud. The Survivors.

Last Monday, I addressed how easy it is for your business to become a failure statistic.  Let’s switch the focus today to how to become one of the minority of new businesses: the winners that get to celebrate their 10th anniversaries.

 

woman winning race by familymwr

 

The good news is that there are simple (though not necessarily easy) ways to address each of the pitfalls I mentioned earlier.

1.     Take time to do your research.

Establish that there truly is a need in the marketplace (and not just in your head) for what you want to offer.  Then figure out how you’ll pay the bills (personal and business related) while you’re building the business; who your ideal clients are; how you’ll reach them; how you’ll distinguish yourself from everyone else in your field; how you’ll package and price your product or service; who can provide necessary services for you that you can’t easily and competently handle for yourself.

 

2.      Educate yourself.

This doesn’t mean going (back) to school for a degree, but it does mean learning all you can so you can avoid common beginners’ mistakes.  If you live in the U.S., tap into resources such as your local SCORE (Service Corps of Retired Executives) office; the local Small Business Development Center, which is a program of the Small Business Administration offering free consulting; Michael Gerber’s classic book, The E-Myth Revisited; business-oriented continuing education programs offered through local community colleges or non-profits.

 

3.     Consistently and strategically work on your business.

It’s thrilling to get your first few clients and do the work you love to do; getting paid for it is not bad, either.  However, to have a long-term successful business, you must allocate focused time every single day (in my opinion) to developing that business.  In other words, you have to spend time marketing and advocating for your business in order to bring in the ideal clients who will actually pay you for your expertise.

 

4.     Remember that it’s not about you.

Well, of course it’s about you in that it’s your business.  However, you won’t have a business if you don’t put your clients first.  All of your product creation, marketing, and promotion has to be geared toward answering the one question of primary importance to every single prospect: What’s in it for me?  Keep the focus on solving your clients’ problems–maybe even on being the answer to their prayers–and you’re on the road to success.

 

5.     Be willing to do the tough stuff.

As Jeff Olson is credited with saying, “Successful people do what unsuccessful people are not willing to do.”  That means stuff that makes you uncomfortable.  In fact, my theory is this: The more ill-at-ease you feel when you think of doing something, the more important it probably is for you to do that very thing.  Easy stuff rarely gets you ahead.

One final caution.  It’s often said that knowledge is power.  When it comes to growing a successful business, I couldn’t agree less.  Just knowing the right thing to do is absolutely no guarantee of getting the results you want.  If it were, nobody would be 20 pounds overweight because you know what to do to manage your weight, don’t you?

No, in the drive to succeed, it’s applied knowledge which is power.  Now the question is: What are you going to do to apply what you know?

(BTW, thanks to familymwr for posting the image of the winner in the Creative Commons section of Flickr.)

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