10 Ingredients For A Successful Business
by Debra Brooks
Are you a small business owner? Are you thinking about starting a small business?
If you answered yes to either of these questions, then there are some things
that you need to know. Statistics show that 95% of small businesses fail within
the first 5 years of operation. I consider this number to be quite high, though
probably not too far from accurate. The good news is that with the proper ingredients,
you can be one of the 5% that succeed.
Think of it like baking a cake. If you don't include all the right ingredients,
your cake won't rise. The same applies to your business. Although every business
has its differences, there are 10 ingredients that every business should share.
Of course, you must have something to sell. Whether it's a product or service,
this is the most important element of your business. The most logical choice
would be something that you know or that you do best, and something that you
enjoy. You cannot start a business just for the sake of having a business and
you cannot effectively sell something that you know very little or nothing about.
If you don't know your business, it won't take long for your customers to find
Every successful business, no matter how large or small, starts with a plan.
A Business Plan will help you plan your strategies and map your directions.
Without a clear and concise plan of action, it's easy to lose site of where
your business is headed and where you want it to go. Once you've established
your business plan, stick to it as much as possible. But, don't get locked into
your plan. Be open to change. Remember that if something isn't working and you
can't make it work, look for another avenue. The only thing that doesn't change
is the willingness to be open to change. (We offer guides to developing business
plans at: BIZPLANS
Owning a business is serious business. Owning your own business is a far cry
from working for someone or even running someone else's business. As a business
owner, everything that affects the business, affects you. If you're like most
of us, you're putting all that you have into your business. Owning a business
can be quite stressful, and sometimes you might even question whether it's all
worth it. Believe me, it is. But that's where your determination and desire
kick in. Being knowledgeable about and enjoying what you do also helps. If you
enjoy what you do, the difficult days aren't so bad. I've found that a daily
dose of motivation works wonders. A good source for daily motivation is (http://www.greatday.com).
You can even subscribe to have your messages emailed to you daily.
Of course, if you don't have customers, you don't have sales. Decide who your
customer base will be and go get 'em. Your customer base should be the people
your business will appeal to. If you have a Medical Billing business, then your
customer base would be doctors and clinics. Knowing who your customers are is
very important. Not only does it allow you to cater to their specific needs,
it also gives you an opportunity to increase your sales by providing add-on
services (more commonly called back-end products/services).
I cannot emphasize the importance of this ingredient. Being in business and
not having a web site is equivalent to not having a telephone in your home.
In the near future your success on the Internet will determine your success
in business. But just having a web site is not enough. Your web site should
be professional, informative, and easy to use. If it is not, you WILL
lose customers. There are too many choices available to customers and they will
not spend time trying to figure out your web site. They will simply move on
to someone else. (We offer websites at The AgentZ.
We do professional work and at a reasonable cost. We also offer domain name
For your business to survive, people have to know that you exist. Every successful
business must do some form of advertising or marketing. Most small businesses
don't have much to spend on advertising. Fortunately there are options that
offer free or minimal cost advertising. Two very good resources for Internet
marketing advice are (http://www.bizweb2000.com) and (http://www.iboost.com).
Be sure to test and track your advertising to see what works and what doesn't.
Of course you don't want to spend time or money on what doesn't work. You should
have established an advertising budget in your business plan.
No matter how many customers you get, if you don't take care of them they will
leave, and most likely they won't be back. Even worse, they might tell others
not to do business with you. I, like many others, truly believe that the most
potent form of advertising is "word of mouth". Unless you have a unique product
or service that only you provide, you have competition. Your level of customer
service can make the difference in someone buying widgets from you or buying
them from someone else. Make each customer feel as though they are your most
important customer. You'll find that they will return and, in most cases, they
will also send others to you. Be sure to answer EVERY email and EVERY call promptly.
Every business has to have employees, even if it's only one. No business can
run itself. This is very important to remember. You must run and handle your
business professionally. Some small business owners, especially home based businesses,
seem to forget that it's still a business. Establish your hours of operation
and stick to them. I see all kinds of advertisements encouraging us to automate
our businesses, but be leery of this. It is definitely a good idea to simplify
things as much as possible, but there is no such thing as automatic pilot for
Every business must have a system for handling finances. There must be a process
for receiving and disbursing money. If you have a web site, accepting credit
cards is a must. You must also consider how you'll pay vendors, employees, and
other payees. One of the best and most user friendly small business accounting
packages is QuickBooks (http://www.shopintuit.com).
I saved this one for last because it is one of the most important ingredients,
but probably the least thought about. Lawsuits are running rampant and with
the increasing popularity of the Internet, legal issues are even more complicated.
Businesses close every day due to legal issues. No business wants to endure
a lawsuit, and most small businesses can't survive one. Even if you're found
to not be at fault in a legal situation, you're still responsible for your legal
fees. What's the going rate for a good attorney? How about $150 to $300 dollars
Fortunately there is a way to avoid this. Now there is a service available
to small businesses that provides them the same access to attorneys and business
professionals that large corporations have, without having to pay those outrageous
fees. You can access the service at (http://www.uslegalshield.com) or (http://www.smallbizprotection.com).
It provides small and home based businesses with unlimited telephone access
to attorneys, debt collection, contract and document review, access to business
professionals and consultants, and a host of other services. They even offer
an individual and family plan, as well as a plan for your employees, and all
for pennies on a dollar. It's the best value I've seen in a long time.
Owning a business is not the easiest thing to do, but it is not the most difficult
either. No one can guarantee your success in business, except you. Your success
is totally dependant upon you and how you handle your business, but utilizing
these 10 ingredients improves your chances. Your business cannot survive without
them. One thing I've found is that, if you take care of your business, it will
take care of you.
About the Author: Debra Brooks has worked in business management,
finance, and accounting for over 18 years. She has been involved in Internet
Marketing for over 4 years. This article was excerpted from her work.