The ultimate goal of any business is to make money, but it can’t be done overnight.
Creating or running a successful business takes creativity, planning, and above all, hard work.
You’ll have to start with a good idea and then run your business better than your competitors.
Along the way, you’ll need to overcome obstacles and make the right connections to allow your business to grow.
With a bit of luck and a lot of determination, you can soon be on your way to success.
Part 1 – Cultivating the Entrepreneurial Spirit
1. Get the right attitude.
Business is a game of carefully calculated risk-taking.
If you can’t handle the pressure of making crucial decisions that could potentially sink your business on a daily basis, you’re not ready for the business world.
Approach each decision by assessing what the worst-case outcome of that decision would be. In other words, what’s the worst that could happen?
Use that knowledge to make decisions by weighing risk and potential reward.
Keep in mind that you can learn from your mistakes and use what you learn from them to succeed later on.
Another key aspect of getting into the right mindset is recognizing that there is a lot that you don’t know.
You should always be open to learning new ideas and incorporating them into your business practices.
2. Stay focused and keep spending under control.
Your business won’t make any money if you’re constantly taking out your earnings and spending them.
Actually, your business may not make any money at all for a considerable period of time.
That is why you have to stay focused and keep working to implement your business plan.
Keep on making and achieving those short term goals until it clicks and your momentum drives your business to success.
Once you have started making money, continue to live as if you still aren’t making it.
Any money that you can reinvest into the business will only help it to grow and increase your potential future income streams.
3. Stay updated with your industry.
Read magazine and newspaper articles that relate to your business interests or business.
Follow famous leaders or innovators related to your industry on social media and stay up to date on their thoughts and actions.
Attend seminars, join trade associations, and subscribe to publications.
Read every relevant book that you can find.
Only by learning and staying up to date can you learn where the market is going next and how to innovate past it.
4. Develop a habit of writing your goals down as a list and making daily actions to achieve them.
Divide your list into short term and long term goals.
The short term goals should be a path to achieving the long term goals.
For example, for the long term goal of the starting the business you write down short term goals like gain financing and write a business plan.
You could then break these short term goals down even further into actionable steps.
Writing down goals and actions to complete will also help you keep your business organized later on.
You don’t want to forget some crucial action that must be taken simply because you weren’t organized enough to remember it.
Part 2 – Getting Your Business Started
1. Brainstorm business ideas.
The idea for a business can come from a variety of sources.
Perhaps you’ve noticed a problem in your life or the life of someone close to you that lacks a solution.
Or maybe the industry that you’ve worked in for years is in need of a shakeup.
Alternately, maybe you’re just looking for a business idea that you can sell to customers and make profitable.
Brainstorm ideas for days or weeks and come up with a list of reasonable ideas.
When you have a list, consider, for each business idea:
- Who are your potential customers?
- How would you set up the business model?
- Where are you going to get your supplies/materials from?
- Do you know enough about this industry to make it work?
2. Pick a niche market and conquer it.
No business, especially a small one, can appeal to all customers.
In fact, a business is usually defined by the customers or markets they choose not to serve.
To become successful, you’ll have to identify the niche in the market where your audience is.
Start by thinking of what type of customers you want to serve.
Are they individuals or businesses?
Then, look at the problem your business is solving from their perspective.
What type of solutions do they want and how should it be done?
Then, you can work within this niche to sell to your customers.
Just make sure that your niche is substantial enough to sustain your growth.
3. Write a business plan.
The first step to actually starting a business is to write a business plan for it.
This will give you a basic structure that you can use to plan your goals and decisions.
Keep in mind that this plan can be edited over time as you learn new strategies and adapt to your market.
At minimum, a business plan should include a summary of the plan, a business description, market strategies, an analysis of competition, a growth plan, operation and management plans, and how financing will be acquired.
See how to write a business plan for more information.
4. Do a break-even analysis.
A break-even analysis tells you, quite simply, how long your business will have to be running to turn a profit.
This is a helpful tool for understanding how much money you will need to invest before the business even has potential to see a return.
This can help you plan for financing and create a timeline for repaying any debt that you may take on when starting the business.
If your business plan doesn’t break even soon enough, consider reducing expenses by working from home, using less expensive materials, or reducing your number of employees.
Alternately, you can increase your product’s price.
Part 3 – Building Relationships
1. Keep good company.
Successful entrepreneurs surround themselves with other successful people.
They tend to feed off of their associates’ energy and success to enhance their own.
Make everyone you spend time with other successful, positive people.
Make sure to avoid negative people or those who are chronically unsuccessful.
2. Attend conventions or industry meet ups.
Be on the lookout for industry events in your area or major ones that you can plan to travel to.
This may include annual conventions or meet ups organized on social media.
By attending these events, you will be able to increase awareness of your business, make new connections, initiate new deals, meet potential new hires, and learn about current events in your field.
3. Send business to new connections.
Constantly explain your business to people you meet and ask them about theirs.
Then, ask them how you can send customers over to their business.
This creates a more powerful connection with the other business owner that you can hopefully one day convert into additional growth for your own business.
That said, you should not expect anything in return from these people.
4. Maintain existing relationships.
Some of your connections may not immediately, or ever, turn into business expansion opportunities.
However, it is important to maintain all relationships.
Opportunities can come from unexpected places, so you need to be ready when they do.
Keep in touch will all contacts on a regular basis, either through emails, phone calls, or social media.
Even if a connection doesn’t seem valuable now, who knows where they’ll be in a couple of years.
Part 4 – Growing Your Business
1. Create an online presence for your business.
You have to have an online presence to succeed in today’s market.
Having a website is the most important thing to do first.
Then, you can also start a blog and make social media accounts.
This helps you interact with customers and reach new ones outside of your initial area.
You may also be able to earn money from advertising on your blog or create a fully online store for your products.
2. Promote your services or products through marketing.
Your business can grow by word of mouth, but it will grow much faster if you advertise.
Make compelling advertisements for your products or services that grab the attention of your audience.
Make sure that the platforms that you use for marketing match the platforms that your niche will actually be using.
Otherwise, your advertising expenditures will be wasted.
See how to advertise and how to advertise your business for free for more information.
3. Provide excellent customer service and listen to your customers.
Excellent customer service is crucial to having a successful business.
Make sure that you and all of your employees treat your customers with respect and try to make each customer happy.
Your customers will be also best able to tell you what you’re doing right or wrong, so listen to their feedback.
This can be either through their actions or through a survey.
Listen to your customers when you are developing new products or services that you could offer or when you are making improvements to existing products.
In addition, you should definitely eliminate any unpopular products or services from your lineup.
In particular, write down any instances in which customers ask if you offer a certain product or service.
Add the most commonly asked-for items to your offerings.
4. Study your competition.
What do your close competitors do?
How are their products priced compared to yours?
What diversification or growth paths have they taken?
Any of this information can help you adapt your own practices to either distinguish yourself or become more or line with your successful competition.
To get this information, you can visit the other businesses’ websites or talk to customers that may have had experience with your competitors.
In addition, be sure to keep an ear out for new competitors or those from other markets, like online business.
5. Be on the lookout for business opportunities to expand, grow, or diversify your business.
Your research of competitors, other successful entrepreneurs, and the market should tell you that the keys to growth are diversification and market expansion.
That is, you should strive to offer your customers more options and also seek out new sources of customers.
These new customers can either be in a different niche than where you started or a different geographical location.
New products can be complementary (go naturally with your current products) or a completely new offering, depending on what your customers want.
Listen to your customers, watch the competition, and read industry journals to get ideas for expansion or diversification opportunities.
To succeed in any business takes time.
Stick to your business plan put lots of energy, enthusiasm, smart work and with positive thinking only success and making money will come to your business.
Do not be afraid of failure, be down to earth.
University of Arkansas at Little Rock