11 Keys to Business Success You Really Should Know
What no one tells you about business success and how to improve your odds.
According to a study on small businesses, seven out of ten close down within a decade. Only half survive for five years.
Labor statistics show the average American changes jobs twelve times. And they do it over the span of five to seven careers.
This data tells us what we already know: the business world is tough.
Here are just a few things you will learn in this article:
- why long-term goal-setting doesn’t work and what to do instead
- the truth about “life hacks”
- why “value” is a myth
1. Mindset Matters.
The way you think sets a tone for the life you live. This is a delicate topic for many. I speak from experience. I once believed my circumstances were dictated by the cards I was dealt instead of the choices I made.
Mindset plays a critical role in business success. Some people believe they can visualize their future into existence. Others think they have little control at all. Regardless of what you believe, your self-image is crucial. A low self-esteem makes the ups and downs of business all that more difficult to manage.
You must have confidence and an iron will to be successful. Otherwise, self-doubt will derail you every time there is an obstacle to overcome.
I’ll give you an example. Let’s say you’re in the middle of a sales presentation. Without warning, the prospect stops you and objects to your opinion. You soon realize they have done some research on the Internet before the meeting. Unfortunately, what they learned contradicts your view.
How will you respond?
You must have confidence in yourself and your ability or a situation like this will ruin your day.
A confident person is capable of achieving great things. They deliver compelling sales presentations and inspiring speeches. They’re able to overcome buyer objections with ease and recover quickly from disappointment.
Confidence doesn’t make you invincible. You will have bad days, disappointments, and setbacks. But having a positive mindset will help you stay on track for success.
If you want to improve your mindset, self-image, and confidence, read this book.
2. Aim for Your Version of Success.
Success is subjective. Everyone has to decide what it means to them. To you, success might be to build a seven-figure business. For me, it may be to become a well-known author. Neither is better than the other.
Set goals to achieve your version of business success. This includes how much money you want to make. No one has the right to tell you otherwise.
Your picture of success may change over time. Something that was important to you five years ago may seem irrelevant now. Likewise, your priorities will probably shift again in the future.
Understanding that these changes will occur makes you better at setting goals. Most people create lofty goals and hope everything will work out. But creating shorter-term goals to achieve a “big-picture” plan is a better approach.
For example, you may want to retire by the time you’re fifty-five. That is a big-picture plan. You can then set short-term goals with time frames of three to five years to help you reach the big-picture goal.
But making big, lofty goals that end up changing every few years sets you up for disappointment. After a while, you lose confidence that you will be able to accomplish anything significant.
You must also make some sacrifices to be successful. While many of us know this to be true, we don’t always feel like doing what it takes.
This alone may be the most helpful way to determine what success is for you. Be honest about what you are and are not willing to do. You may discover that certain goals don’t matter to you as much as you thought.
3. Money Is Something but It Isn’t Everything.
Building a business that will make an impact on the world is a fantastic goal, but would you do it for free?
Profit is what separates a business from a charity. A business isn’t likely to keep the doors open unless they make money. Yet, people want the companies they buy from to stand for more than profit.
Making money is important. But business success must be based on more than generating revenue. Why?
First, because people can sense your motives, at least most of them can. They may not say it, but they will avoid you at all costs if they think you care more about their money than you do about them.
Second, focusing only on money violates the Law of Sowing and Reaping. There is a reason so many successful businesses make it policy to give back to society. You really do get out of something what you put into it.
When you choose to give back, be sincere. Some businesses use charitable giving as a sales tactic. But in the end, people will see through it.
There is nothing wrong with wanting to make a lot of money. Nor should you feel guilty about trying. But when it’s your only priority, life has a way of reminding you that business success is about more than money.
4. Find What Works for You.
I’m a drummer. When I was growing up, my dream was to become a professional musician. I didn’t choose the drums, they chose me. Though I also play the piano and guitar, the drums are much easier for me. I can sit down and play almost any rhythm just by hearing it. I might also be able to learn Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony on the piano, but I would need a few years of practice.
Drums are a natural fit for me, the piano isn’t.
The same is true for business skills. Each one of us has unique business talents and abilities, but at different levels. Let’s say that between us, you’re the better public speaker. It may take months or years of practice before I reach your level of speaking skill.
Many of us end up disappointed and frustrated with “life hacks”. The diet that worked for my friend doesn’t work for me. Lisa’s videos get a lot of engagement on social media but mine don’t.
This is why you won’t always be able to duplicate someone else’s results with the same strategy or tactics. What works for them won’t always work for you.
There’s nothing wrong with learning from others. But be careful taking someone else’s path to business success. It may not always work as well for you as it did for them.
5. Learn the Difference Between Determination and Stupidity.
Let’s face it: when you’re in business, you will have more than your fair share of problems. Roadblocks appear out of nowhere, and sometimes it seems nothing you do works.
At the same time, we know that one key to business success is the ability to get back up after being knocked down.
If at first you don’t succeed…
So how do you know when to quit?
Learning how to answer that question comes with experience.
Years ago, I owned a half of a business in another industry. My partner and I were good friends but didn’t have the same priorities. Eventually, I realized he and I would never agree on how to operate the business.
Yet after this revelation, I stayed in it for two more years. Why?
Because my ego wouldn’t let me quit. I was determined to make it work. Besides, I had no idea what I would do if I shut it down.
The situation didn’t improve. Only after my health started to suffer did I finally choose to move on. Many times, the right thing to do is often the most difficult choice.
If you’re struggling with the decision to quit or keep going, I’ll offer these tips:
- How much do you stand to gain? If your pride is all that is a stake, it may be time to let go.
- Are there better alternatives? Don’t settle for what you think is true. You need facts. Investigate and find out what else is available.
- Is it affecting others? You aren’t always the only one that suffers when you’re having a tough time. How much is it worth to stay in?
- The loss of time and money isn’t limited to what you have invested so far. Could you make it up after a while by taking another path?
- You’re the only one who can decide when it’s time to quit. But after you choose, don’t look back.
6. Don’t Cut Corners.
At times, you may be tempted to cut costs, make big promises, or leave out a few details.
Don’t do it.
Too often, businesspeople and companies resort to unethical or questionable tactics. They lose their customers’ trust because they sacrificed quality and integrity.
It takes a long time build these things but one mistake can destroy them.
Maintaining high quality and perceived value is a key to business success. There is nothing wrong with looking for ways to reduce expenses. Sometimes it is necessary, other times you have no choice. But consider what you will be giving up when you do.
Customers lost over poor quality or lack of integrity are almost impossible to win back.
7. Do the Things You Hate Doing Until You Can Pay Someone Else to Do Them.
When I worked in Corporate America, my job required me to make cold calls. I did it five days a week for ten years and hated every minute of it. I never got used to people hanging up on me in mid-sentence.
But I learned a lot from that experience. It made me a better conversationalist and taught me to handle rejection.
Sometimes, things we don’t like doing will play a significant role in our business success.
If there is something like this you avoid, it could be for one or all these reasons:
- you’re not good at it
- it makes you feel “less than” when doing it
- you don’t think it’s worth doing
Of these, the last reason may be valid. Maybe. But you can only know for sure when you have done it long enough to prove otherwise.
At a glance, the first two reasons appear to be similar, but they aren’t. There may be things you don’t mind doing but put them off because you aren’t good at them.
In these instances, you will have to learn them or pay someone else to do them for you. I recommend learning them because it will be easier to supervise others when you hire them to take over the job.
The second reason is one most of us don’t talk much about. Sometimes, we hate doing something because it makes us feel inadequate. It’s as though it is beneath us to do it. In my case, it was cold calling. Even though I did for a long time, I felt like a loser every time someone hung up on me.
Doing things we don’t like to do is a difference-maker. Most people won’t do them which is why this one key to business success may separate us from the pack more than anything else.
8. Don’t Get Too Comfortable
You will never arrive. And you should never, ever, fall asleep at the wheel.
Business, like life, is a journey. If you’re currently enjoying success, you can’t be sure it will last. Likewise, if you’re struggling today, circumstances can improve any moment.
While it is unfortunate, we must always prepare for the day when life turns against us. Achieving business success is a long, arduous climb. But reaching the peak is only the beginning. Sometimes, it takes more effort to stay on top than it does to get there.
Take time to celebrate and enjoy each victory but never become complacent. Continue looking for ways to improve and grow.
While you shouldn’t live life looking over your shoulder, you must be aware of the competition. If people have you in their crosshairs, it’s because they perceive you as a threat. When this happens, see it as a good thing that will keep you moving forward.
9. Always Ask, “Why Should Anyone Care?”
Telling people how good you are at what you do will not convince them to buy.
First, people won’t always agree with your assessment. You may believe your business offers a great solution but it will take more than your opinion to convince others.
If you want to be successful, you must make people care about what you do. This isn’t easy.
So, how do you do it?
Put yourself in their shoes and think about what it’s like to be them. This exercise will take some practice and it isn’t a perfect system, but it works.
Ask yourself these questions:
- How do their problems make them feel?
- What are their frustrations?
- What do they want more than anything else?
- What their priorities?
- Where do they look for solutions?
These are only a few examples but they provide insight into your customers’ lives. Once you know more about them and what they care about, you can create more perceived value for your business.
Speaking of value…
10. Ignore the “Value Myth”.
Some say you will get paid according to how much value you bring into the world.
But you don’t.
Did you know that first responders, such as police, fire, and rescue workers, make an average salary of $34,000?
These people save lives every day yet struggle to pay bills. Many must work two jobs to cover expenses.
Value is one of the most misconstrued concepts in the business world.
It’s true that you must offer value if you hope to make money selling a product or service.
But why would anyone invest time and money to start a business that has no value? I wouldn’t and doubt you would.
It’s true that some industries enjoy more perceived value than others. Doctors are one example.
Your business likely has a lot of value to offer. The challenge is to find the people who need it most. A cure for a disease is only valuable to those with the disease.
The degree of perceived value you offer is crucial to success. The more of it people see in something, the more demand there will be for it.
If people don’t see the value you offer, it’s likely because you are:
- not communicating your value well enough,
- communicating it to the wrong people
11. Build Your Brand
Branding is one of the most significant keys to business success.
It will help your business stand out, get noticed, stay top-of-mind, and give it a competitive edge.
The same is true if you’re an individual working for a company. Building a personal brand will have the same impact on your career.
Here is how branding relates to the other keys to business success in this article:
1. Branding gives you more confidence in your ability to perform in the marketplace. For example, competitive analysis, positioning, and value-pricing build confidence that your business offers the best solution available.
2. Branding allows you to define your goals and provides a plan and strategy for achieving them.
3. Research shows purpose-driven brands succeed. A brand narrative tells customers your story — why you exist and how you help them. It shows them you stand for more than making a profit because you care about them.
4. You will build a brand that leverages your strengths and capitalizes on them.
5. A brand strategy serves as a compass for goal setting and supports a wise use of resources. It will help you determine what is working and what isn’t.
6. Branding ensures quality and value.
7. Doing things you don’t enjoy will always be a key to business success. Branding maximizes the results you get when you do them.
8. A brand strategy will keep you competitive and innovative.
9. The brand you build is centered around the people you serve.
10. Branding helps create more value for your business and its products and services.
If you have a comment on this post email me at [email protected].
If you want to build a brand that will set you apart and give your business a competitive advantage, click here.
Until next time,
We equip visionary entrepreneurs and small business owners with the knowledge and resources they need to stand out, communicate their value, and make more profit.