Seven Keys to Running a Successful Business

March 06, 2008
Written by Stephen Head
Seven Keys to Running a Successful BusinessSuccess does not happen by itself; it’s up to us to make it happen. Successful people claim to be in control, knowing what goes on around them. Success is being prepared for opportunity when it presents itself.
Success does not happen by itself; it’s up to us to make it happen. Successful people claim to be in control, knowing what goes on around them. Success is being prepared for opportunity when it presents itself. Before you can determine if you are successful, you need to define what success means to you. For some it’s being able to shed the shackles of employment and work for ourselves, even if it means a drop in pay and working 12-hour days. Others have high expectations for success, wanting to climb to the top of the corporate ladder – money merely becomes a measurement of their success. Strategies may vary from business to business, but there are some elements to running a business that fashion our uniqueness and help to give us an edge.

Vision:
This is the single most important aspect of being in business – having a clear vision of what you want for and from your business.  Throughout the life of the business, it needs to be continually evaluated to see how it's fitting into your original vision.  Losing focus can lead to aimless meanderings, diluting effort and leaving our success to chance.  Many successful business people may not have started out knowing how their business was going to end up, but they had a vision and remained focused on achieving it.

Plan:
A business plan is a map – it takes the vision of where you want your business to go and helps chart the course on how to get there. We may know where we want to go and we know the starting point, but we don’t know how to get there?  We wouldn’t dream of setting out without a map, so why would we run a business without a business plan. The plan can help identify our strengths, competition and market, as well as financial resources. With regular reviews and adjustments to changing conditions, a business plan is a valuable tool for running a successful business. Keep in mind that it is just as important for an established business to have a business plan, as it is for a new company starting out.

Adaptability:
The only constant is change. Consumers demand more, trends change, competition continues to be fierce and margins are tighter. To survive in business, let alone flourish, we have to be able to recognise these market shifts and adapt quickly. To succeed you need to stay on top of market demands, identify new techniques and trends, and be sensitive and intuitive to customers' needs.

Market Intelligence:
The right information can guide a business to offer the right products and services to satisfy customers’ needs. Regular market analyses help identify shifting trends, processes that work and those that need improvement – all of which help keep the business on track.

Once you understand who your target market is, it will be easier to focus your efforts on reaching them and satisfying their needs.
 
Value:
Knowing your market helps determine what type of value you should represent to your customer. Value is an amalgamation of several factors that represent what your customer is looking for such as quality, service standards and pricing that reflects what is offered.

Marketing:
A valuable principle for business success is a strong momentum in selling.

Not only selling staple products, but add-ons (an often overlooked element in the sales process).  These will increase the average sale, as well as become a valuable customer service.  The emphasis on marketing should apply to the entire staff.  Selling and satisfying customers throughout the work day should be their number one priority.

Sharing the Vision:
For a business to prosper, you need your staff to be passionate about the plan. Sharing your vision is a great motivator, it gives them an insight as to how they can contribute to the business and be a part of its success.  Staff who believe in and support the business ideals will help you achieve success.  Regular meetings are an excellent way to keep staff informed of progress, changes and challenges.  I am not advocating you share all of your sensitive information, but if they don’t know where you want to go, how can they help you get there? It will be very difficult to achieve your long-term goals if your team members don’t understand your vision.

We start out with an idea that becomes a vision and then develops into an enterprise – before we know it, it takes on a life of its own. Success cannot be left to mere chance, we need to guide our business throughout its life, recognising the challenges and taking them on. Whatever it sets before us business can be fun, why else would we do it? What determines success? Only you can decide that.

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