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5 Steps To Success for Small Business Owners

Everyone wants to succeed in life. Most people want to succeed in business. And no one starts a business of any sort wanting to fail.

Yet the sad fact is that 80% of businesses will fail in the first 3 years of operation.

So what can you do to ensure your success?

Luckily these five simple (never confuse simple with easy), tried and tested steps dramatically increase your chances.

1. Vision

It might seem like management techno-speak or newage psycho-babble but all the evidence is that developing and articulating a vision for your business and life is a major key to success.

Take time out. Really think about what you want from your business and life.

Write it down.

A vision statement should not be long - it doesn't even have to be in words. If you think graphically then capturing your vision in a picture or diagram could be just what you need. You are striving for a short, to the point description of where you want to be in 1, 2 and 5 years time.

In addition to your financial vision you need to ask yourself some questions:

What will our major products and services be?
What will be our target market?
Will we be market leaders, followers or niche players?
What will our unique competitive position be?
How will we 'know' our ideal customer?
How will we be perceived by our customers?
How will we promote your services to our customers?
An old Japanese Proverb says,

"If you aim at a tree and fall short, you may only hit the ground.

If you aim at the sky you may hit a tree."

Make sure you don't set your targets too low.

Just before leaving the subject of 'Vision' - the number one key to achieving your vision is to communicate it widely. Make sure you tell your family and friends. Make it a central pillar in corporate literature. Include it in job descriptions.

The more you communicate your vision the more you demonstrate your commitment and the more likely you are to succeed.

2. Set Out Your Goals

Success means something different to us all. A self-made businessman worth millions of dollars would be thought successful by most. But if that businessman only rarely sees his family, never gets to play golf and spends all of his time on airplanes or in some exotic sounding (but usually antiseptic) hotel, is that really a success? Would that businessman think his life a success?

Possibly, possibly not.

But if that man had set himself goals for his business, private and social lives he at least has some way of measuring his achievements.

Your vision is all about 'what' you are going to achieve. Goals are about the stepping stones to achieving that vision.

Before starting on any endeavour - set your goals.

Make sure your goals are specific enough that you know when you have achieved them. "I want to make lots of money" is weak. "I am going to make $100,000 next year and $200,000 the year after" is much stronger.

The more specific and well articulated your goals the greater your chance of achieving them.

Don't forget to include your private and social goals. Many rich people complain that they have all the freedom that money can buy - but money can't buy the time to enjoy what they have earned.

An old boss of mine from my days in corporate consultancy once observed, "You can't buy back the years of your children's lives". He's right.

Make sure you know what real success would mean to you.

3. Plan, Plan, Plan

If the number one key to success in retailing is location, location and location, the number one key to success in business is plan, plan, plan.

Remember the 5 Ps success model - Prior Planning Prevents Poor Performance. (When I was taught this in the military there was a 6th P - for the sake of a mixed audience I have left this out. Use your imagination - you'll guess what it was :-))

If you've done your goal setting you know what you are going to achieve. The point of planning is how you are going to do it. Break each goal down into constituent steps needed for its achievement. For each step decide what, who, where and when it is to be done.

Be realistic and make sure that every step is achievable in the time set. Be prepared - when you plan-out all that you need to do, the amount of work can be daunting. Better to know this up-front than sale merrily into a venture only to find it is a huge monster that is going to take you a lifetime to kill.

4. Action Counts

I've seen some beautiful plans. Highly researched, well thought out and presented. I'll talk to a business owner and they'll say, "We've got a plan" and pull it out of the bottom draw of a filing cabinet somewhere.

"So, why aren't you using it", I'll ask. Nine times out of 10 the plan was produced to obtain funding. Lot's of really good work is done but once the money is obtained the plan is put to one side and ignored.

Big mistake. Taking action is the only thing that counts.

Every successfull business I have looked at has clear, current business, operational and marketing plans. It doesn't matter whether your business is offline or online. It's taking action that delivers the results.

5. Another 5 'P's to Success

Passion - You have to believe in what you are doing. No where is this more obvious than on the internet. You can spot the 'me-too' advertisers in a second. The people who succeed are the ones in have passion, who truly believe in what they are doing. Do something that you love.

Push - No matter how good your plan you have to provide a big push to get it moving. Your plan inevitably involves change. Achieving change takes effort. Think of it as if you were trying to move a boulder. To get that boulder up and moving takes a lot of muscle and effort. Once it is moving though it becomes much easier.

Persistence - Getting started is relatively easy. Afterall, you are all fired up with energy and enthusiasm at that time. Few things worth achieving happen over night. Instead, there will be problems, hold-ups and frustrations. Don't allow yourself to become disillusioned or demotivated. You need persistence.

Patience - Results don't happen instantly. Allied to persistence you will need some patience.

Profit - OK, OK it's trite. But follow the steps here, gear yourself to provide these 5 Ps and you will succeed. In business, profit is a measure of your success.

No one can guarantee your success whether in life or in business. But you can dramatically increase your chances of success through these five simple, very well established principles.

The question is, "WILL YOU"?

Keith Longmire is the owner of JKL Breakthrough Growth Solutions. His site is designed to provide tested, proven marketing and growth solutions guaranteed to make just about any business achieve rapid, sustainable growth.

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