Small Business Owner’s must:

  1. Be “people” people…One of the true joys of owning your own business is direct contact with your customers, vendors and employees. You need the skills to persuade your vendors to give you favorable terms. You must be able to engage your customers to sell them on your products and services and keep them coming back and you must communicate and motivate your employee’s day in and day out.  Your success hinges on your people skills and your abilities to communicate your vision to set the right tone in your organization.
  2. Demonstrate general business skills…The most successful business owners I know all have one thing in common, good “common sense.”  In other words, a sense of what is important to run a successful business. That means paying attention to financial details, managing cash flow, understanding the importance of promotion, marketing and advertising, knowing how and when to hire employees, focusing on the customer, ensuring quality service and striving for excellence in all aspects of their operation.
  3. Have access to capital… Satisfying the capital needs of a newly established business is without question one of the main challenges. Small Business Owners need a solid banking relationship with a financial institution that understands their plans and is prepared to extend their business the credit it needs to succeed. It’s also important that Business Owners plan carefully for contingencies. This usually takes professional help. A good accountant can prepare a cash flow/needs assessment with a break-even analysis that provides a useful road map of a business’ capital needs. Often times this assessment becomes a matter of business survival.
  4. Know their numbers… Specifically look at revenue growth, cash flow and margin performance but more importantly look at profitability the more successful Business Owners I know establish sales metrics and sales management key performance indicators (KPIS) to check the pulse of their business on a weekly, monthly and quarterly basis.
  5. Set clear goals/expectations…Goals keep Business Owners focused, helps concentrate time and effort, provides motivation, persistence and desire along with helping set priorities. I’m sure you’ve all heard the saying “If you don’t know where you’re going any road will take you there!”  Each and every day Business Owners are faced with myriad of choices and decisions that can take them hopelessly off track.  Business Owners need to set clear goals with milestones as well as contingency plans with trigger points in order to achieve their goals.
  6. Leverage personal and professional relationships…Research shows the average business person enjoys 250 business relationships.  While your mileage may vary the success of your business is dependent on leveraging family and friends early and often and get those relationships to become evangelists for your company.
  7. Embrace change…In the business there is no such thing as “status quo!” You’re either moving forward of falling behind. Even if you don’t actually see the changes on a daily basis, it does not mean that they are not happening.  So, why do some Business Owners ignore change?  Our research shows that there are four, primary reasons; Emotion (fear of the unknown, anger, uncertainty, mistrust); Perception (they do not see the need for the change); Attitude (they believe that most changes are not for the better) and Reluctance (they adopt a wait and see attitude).
  8. Track their competitors…Create a competitive intelligence library.  Be aware of who your competitors are and how they position themselves in the market place. Constantly evaluate your competition and your competitive differentiation.
  9. Staff up for growth…Adding staff increases overhead but being understaffed might keep your business from growing at all.  For instance if you’re considering adding salespeople ask yourself, “How much revenue does this person have to generate to pay for themselves?”
  10. Stash some cash…Building a cash supply is not novel advice but it’s often forgotten until it’s too late.  No amount of planning can prevent a recession or natural disaster but keeping as little as 30-days’ worth of cash on hand can be the difference between a Business Owner making it or going out of business. The newer a business is (e.g., less than two years old) or the more seasonal the business is, the more cash (or access to capital) you need.

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