Success Factors For The Small Business Owner

I am often asked how a Money Coaching engagement is different for self-employed clients.  The fact is, every client engagement is unique, and each requires tailored content and customized advice.  And yes, small business owners are a different breed.  For any number of reasons they have walked away from a salaried position and followed their passion.  The result is variable income, long hours, financial risk, and, when success comes their way, a sense of accomplishment that is tough to match in the corporate world.

Here are my Small Business Success Factors (or better put, what it takes to succeed in the world of Small Business) that I share with my self-employed clients or those aspiring to be:

  1. Be passionate about it – if you love it you won’t mind committing the time required to bring it to life, and doing all that is necessary to succeed.
  2. Be smart about it – be realistic about what is working and what isn’t.  Cutting bait is knowing when to stop things that aren’t working (eg. media, pricing, merchandising).
  3. Outsource what you’re not good at – there are many skills required of successful small business people, and no one has them all.  Hire professionals when needed to close personal skill gaps.
  4. Don’t be afraid to invest, but do it judiciously – no small business is successful by just opening its doors.  Dollars and time are required to attract customers (building awareness, enticing offers, exceeding expectations, driving repeat business & referrals).  Some of this takes some serious investment so deep pockets help.
  5. Always judge your business on its merits – not on your dreams.  Continuously gauge its success against a strict standard of success and pre-determined timelines, including its ability to support you and your family.
  6. Stay connected – It is amazing how small business people support and mentor each other; others can provide fresh ideas, needed services, and personal guidance that can all help.
  7. Cut costs – quickly.  Growing your profit margin is not just about maximizing revenue, but also managing costs tightly, especially ‘low value / process’ (non-marketing) costs.
  8. If you want to feed you and your family with the net profit, have a rock solid Business Plan!

The last tip here – having a rock solid Business Plan – is probably the most important of the eight.  This should include the critical elements of a Cash Flow Plan (different than a projected profit/loss statement), a Strategy section, a Marketing section, a Skill Set section, a Competitor Analysis section and of course an Investment Plan and Launch Plan.

Not everyone is cut out to run their own show.  It takes a combination of strengths.  The media would suggest everyone should have the dream of one day opening their own small business.  The problem is that most small businesses fail, and this can ruin what might have otherwise been a comfortable financial future.   The risk-taking bit is something you should reflect on for some time, getting advice and counsel from many different areas (personal friends, colleagues, family, etc.).

There are many other resources available, starting with Government agencies that have many resources (and sometimes grants) available.  And many successful small business professionals are very willing to share their experiences and expertise with aspiring small business owners.  And don’t forget to read, read, read – trade journals, newspapers, blogs, websites, reviews, etc.

For you who choose this career path and leverage the skills you have to follow your passion, I wish you well!  It may be the most rewarding work you have ever done.  Just keep your eyes wide open and follow the tips here.

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