What is the key to a successful business?


So you’ve turned your back on paid employment and are venturing out on your own but wouldn’t it be great if you knew the key to a successful business before you started?

I have noticed that recently a lot has been written on this subject with many people stating that the key is to know your niche; with even more written on how to identify your niche.  And yes, this is important but I have been finding recently that this is also a great tool for procrastination! You know that you want to work for yourself and it has taken you a lot of soul searching and market research to come up with a business idea but yet you still haven’t started your business because everyone is telling you that you have to really know your niche first so that you can target them in your marketing campaign.  So what do you do?  You spend time downloading information on how to identify your niche and ponder over it and before you realise it more weeks have gone by and that business of yours still isn’t up and running.

I don’t want to be too confrontational but if you are really passionate about your business idea and truly believe in it then get started.  If you can’t quickly identify your niche, don’t spend too much time on it because what you are more likely to find is that either your niche will find you or as your business begins to take off, you will quickly identify the type of customers or clients that you want to do business with.  You know that you can’t be or do everything for everybody but in the early days of starting your own business the reality is that it is very difficult to say no to any business and despite what some people may say, I think that’s fine – it buys you the time to find out the type of people you want to do business with and therefore allows your niche to develop naturally over time.

So what do I think is the key to a successful business?  Well, you shouldn’t be surprised to read that I believe that that the key is to have a clear and transparent goal! Why? Because a successful business needs to be able to focus on a clear direction, one that is obvious to everyone who makes contact with it i.e. employees, shareholders, business contacts, customers and clients; one where everyone involved can see and take responsibility for the part they play in achieving that goal.  Of course, success also requires effective:

  1.  organisation – one that can over deliver on what it promises to its customers and one that can react positively to changing circumstances;
  2. measures – there is a phrase, “you can’t manage what you can’t measure” and since every activity within a business has a cost you must be able to measure that cost so that you can compare it with the value that the activity adds to the business;
  3. management and leadership – that can communicate the goals and vision of the business while developing and investing in its employees.

And I’m sure you could add others to the list (and please do so by adding them as a comment below) but these are the areas that I believe will lead to increasing the value of your business the fastest.

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