There’s enough negativity in this world. From social media to newspapers to TV, haters and critics abound. As I read a recent list from Entrepreneur Magazine and Yahoo! about the top reasons for business failure, I decided to write a list on the top reasons for business success by today’s fantastic entrepreneurs. Take these with a grain of salt – they are all my opinions after 27 years in the business world.
- Purpose and Direction. Business owners who are clear on their purpose and why their company exists are better communicators with their team and their clients. They tend to achieve better results. They set goals that are in line with their purpose and lead their company in the same direction forward.
- Patience. When business owners finally realize that their staff is truly committed to their business — but aren’t going to work 60-80 hours every week — business owners relax and build some patience. Business owners can then set more realistic goals and expect more reasonable outcomes, removing all of the day-to-day pressure from their business. Great results cost more and take longer to achieve.
- Gratitude. Entrepreneurs who count their blessings on a regular basis are happier to be around and to work for. They attract better employees and build better cultures. Giving back to the community around them and being a leader that makes things happen for the less fortunate is a solid characteristic of a great entrepreneur.
- Commercial Insurance. Successful entrepreneurs cover their tails by planning ahead. They have general liability insurance, E&O, EPLI, DO, workers compensation, cybersecurity, and umbrella insurance policies. You never need these until you do, and then it’s too late.
- Sleep on Critical Emails. An entrepreneur who realizes the impact of their words and their reputation will succeed more and won’t stick their foot in their mouth near as often. Hey, we all make mistakes. But sending that critical email is better served by saving it in draft mode and rereading what you wrote in the morning. Better yet, see number 6.
- Pick up the Phone. If you are delivering bad news, or good news, pick up the phone. People would much rather hear it from you over the phone, over Zoom, or in person. Especially if you have to deliver a critical email, do so in person, or as close to in person as you can. Your message will have less of a chance to be misinterpreted and result in better conversations.
- Digitally Entering Daily Receipts. Entrepreneurs who create the habit of scanning every receipt—regardless of how small—into a digital system like Hubdocs have better cost control. They link HubDocs to their Quickbooks Online account and voila! They see what they are spending every day. This habit builds your budget, builds your forecast, builds great finances, gets taxes filed on time, and drives better fiscal responsibility and profitability.
- Coach. Top business owners and entrepreneurs hire a coach to help clarify their direction, to hold them accountable, and to bring in outside experience and/or perspective. The best coaches I’ve found do so in a group setting where you can share and collaborate with other entrepreneurs.
- Collaboration. Being a good collaborator and working well with other business owners is a foundational quality of successful entrepreneurs.
- High Quality Service and Products. Delivering value to the marketplace is the main reason you get paid by your customers. Delivering high quality service and products to the marketplace encourages repeat business, more referrals, and more love from the marketplace. It also means spending less to attract new clients.
- Legal Counsel. The best business owners have their legal house in order. They partner with an attorney so that they have written operations agreements, employment contracts, non-disclosure agreements, vendor agreements, buy-sell agreements, wills, trusts, intellectual property protection, and the list goes on.
- Banking Relationship. An entrepreneur who builds a long-term relationship with a banker they get along with tends to have better success over the long-haul. From my experience, you won’t get their best rate right out of the starting gate. They don’t know you, your credit, or if you can do what you say you can do. When you prove that you are true to your word and pay off your loans on time, bankers are encouraged to help you grow faster.
- Budgets and Forecasts. In relation to #7 on this list, a business owner who develops a written annual budget and forecast will run a better business. Especially if they look at the numbers at least monthly to see if they are ahead, on-track, or behind.
- Solid Financials. Partnering with a good CPA out of the gate is critical to success. Few entrepreneurs were put on this Earth to do bookkeeping, accounting, and payroll. Find someone who loves to do this work for you and get out of their way.
- Core Beliefs and Values. Business owners who know what they stand for, what they believe in, and what their company values are run better businesses. When you have your purpose, beliefs, and values established, look at every decision and opportunity through that lens. You will be more in-line with the direction you want to go. Better yet, you’ll say “no” to distractions.
- Brand. Your brand is how your customers describe your business. Those business owners who have a clear marketing message and communicate it consistently to the marketplace generally achieve better success. When your employees, customers, vendors, and partners can communicate what your business does and the value it brings to the marketplace, great things can happen on the sales end.
- Anticipating Market Trends. Entrepreneurs who study their target market to see how they spend their money and the changing trends in the market make better decisions. They talk to, and survey, those who matter most to their business. They see around corners and are better able to adapt to changes.
- Knowing What You’re Best At. I’ll paraphrase Michael Gerber from his books— E-Myth and E-Myth Revisited. As a business owner, you should choose one role. Will you be the visionary, the manager, or the technician? In the beginning, you may need to be all three. But successful business owners pick one, delegate the other two, and never look back.
- Decisiveness. An entrepreneur who is clear in purpose, values, and beliefs will make better decisions. Especially on those difficult days. Knowing why you exist and what you stand for will clear the path to better decision making.
- Culture. Successful business owners build their culture on purpose. They lead by example, “do what I do”. They don’t leave their culture to chance and they work hard to nurture, guide, and encourage a great office culture. They also attract and retain better employees in their marketplace.
Business Owners and Entrepreneurs change the world, encourage progress, and employ the large majority of workers in the US1. Just in the USA alone, we have 4.25%2 of the world population, and we produce almost 25% of the world’s GDP 3. In contrast, China has 18.47%2 of the world population and produces about 17% of the world’s GDP3. That’s a pretty big jump for a nation that accounts for a small portion of the world’s population.
Did I miss anything on this list? What would you add?