The path to business success is a winding and treacherous one, fraught with challenges and unexpected setbacks. Why do you think only 7% of the world are entrepreneurs? Too often, would-be entrepreneurs don’t know how to succeed in business as they are lured by the siren song of an easy victory, convinced that a business can be built with nothing more than a brilliant idea and a dash of luck. However, it takes hard work, dedication, and careful planning. Successful entrepreneurs are those who take the time to plan out all the necessary steps to formulate and grow their businesses. The truth is that the fastest (and probably the only) way to achieve true success in business is to take the “hard” route.
“When something is important enough, you do it even if the odds are not in your favor.” – Elon Musk (More Quotes)
To be successful in business, you need to be willing to make sacrifices and burn the midnight oil. Success is earned through dedication, perseverance, and a willingness to do what others won’t. It requires a deep understanding of the business world, a keen intellect, and a strategic mindset that can navigate the complexities of the modern economy. Not a walk in the park huh? Well, let’s not fool ourselves, the 90% failure rate of businesses can be primarily attributed to a lack of perseverance and entrepreneurs merely “testing out” ideas. That makes hard work the inevitable easy route to success.
But success is not just about persistence and strategy. It also requires a solid organizational foundation, a deep understanding of human psychology, and the willingness to take calculated risks. Successful entrepreneurs know that building a business is a holistic process that requires attention to both the objective and subjective aspects of the enterprise. They are willing to put in the hard work to build a business that can withstand the challenges of the market and the unpredictable nature of human behavior.
So, what are the skills that can help you succeed in business? Let me share with you some valuable insights that I’ve gleaned through hard-earned experience, as well as some lessons I’ve learned from the most successful entrepreneurs out there:
1. Wisdom From the Masters
Learning from others is an indispensable tool that can significantly boost your trajectory toward success. Failure may be a powerful teacher, but it can also sap your mental and material resources. Instead, take risks while minimizing the risk of failure by learning from others’ experiences.
Discovering good mentors is a powerful way to learn from others. Mentors can provide specific advice tailored to your circumstances and help you accelerate your learning journey even further. Though finding excellent mentors is challenging, it can be worth its weight in gold.
To learn from others, reading is another highly effective method. Through books, you can access the stories of the best and brightest minds that might otherwise be inaccessible. Reading allows you to learn from others’ experiences and can offer a unique perspective on business and life, informing your actions and decisions.
Here are some of the best business books to read:
- The Lean Startup by Eric Ries – teaches you how to create a business that’s both efficient and effective, helping you to grow your business without wasting time or resources.
- Good to Great by Jim Collins – provides insight into what sets successful companies apart from their competitors, and how to take your business to the next level.
- Zero to One by Peter Thiel – talks about how to build a successful startup, and offers advice on everything from finding a niche market to developing a strong company culture.
- Atomic Habits by James Clear – offers practical strategies for developing positive habits and breaking negative ones, helping entrepreneurs to become more productive, efficient, and successful.
- Range: Why Generalists Triumph in a Specialized World by David Epstein – the book challenges the conventional wisdom that specialization is the key to success, arguing that a broad range of experiences and skills can actually be more valuable for entrepreneurs and professionals alike.
But successful people know that reading books and listening to podcasts is merely the tip of the iceberg. Here are some habits we swear by:
- Take Action and Avoid Procrastination: don’t wait for the perfect moment to arrive. Take bold action and put plans into motion, even when You’re not fully ready or emotionally prepared.
- Prioritize Productivity: Know how to get things done. Establish productive habits that keep you focused and efficient in your daily workflow.
- Embrace Risk-Taking: don’t be afraid to fail. Understand that failure is a necessary part of the learning process and that it’s possible to fail forward.
2. Be Genuine and Bold
To build a truly authentic brand, the first and most crucial step is to tell your story truthfully. Your customers crave empathy, so listen closely to their needs and desires. To truly connect with your audience, you must understand their collective vision and revisit your core values. They want to support brands that share their values and beliefs, so aligning your core values with theirs is crucial.
Craft your brand strategy so that you can be genuine, relatable, and truthful while staying true to your tone of voice. Instead of centering your brand messaging on what you want your audience to know, concentrate on what they desire.
Live your mission, treat others as you wish to be treated, choose customers wisely, and provide value consistently. Uphold your brand promise and communicate transparently, using feedback to understand pain points. Align with a community that shares your cause to build a powerful brand.
Here are some Practical Tips:
1. Show Don’t Tell
Clear and concise product descriptions: Write a brief and easy-to-understand description of your product or service that clearly outlines its features, benefits, and value proposition.
High-quality images and videos: Use high-quality images and videos that showcase your product or service from different angles, highlight its features, and demonstrate how it works.
2. Social Proof
Social media presence: Utilize social media platforms to showcase your product or service, share customer reviews and testimonials, and engage with your audience.
Customer reviews and testimonials: Include customer reviews and testimonials on your website to provide social proof and demonstrate the value of your product or service.
3. Communicate DIRECTLY with the User
Email: send newsletters, promotional offers, and other important updates directly to their inboxes.
Live chat: convenient for customers who want quick answers. Live chat transcripts can be saved and reviewed later to improve customer support strategies.
3. Outsource Right
Outsourcing is a savvy business move if you want to save time and tap into other people’s expertise. Thanks to the gig economy, it is now easier than ever to outsource both big and small projects to talented individuals or agencies.
Here are some of the Best Websites to Find and Hire Skilled Freelancers:
- Toptal – Best for Premium Super Curated Talent
- Upwork – Best for Smaller Projects or Skill-based Talent
- AngelList Talent (now Wellfound) – Best for Startups
Outsourcing may be perfect for you because it provides you with resources to manage and grow your businesses on an as-needed basis, handle temporary work surges, lower fixed costs, speed up product launches, streamline distribution, offer better customer service, and compete with bigger rivals.
But outsourcing has its challenges. The most significant one is that the quality of the freelancer greatly impacts the finished product. If it turns out to be subpar or delayed, it could interfere with the business’s goals. I experienced this firsthand in my noob days when a web developer failed to deliver my project on time, resulting in an almost a month-long delay to a priority #1 project.
Choosing the right service provider is critical. You should evaluate the person or company as carefully as you would an employee. To avoid pitfalls, The first step is to think through the scope of the project and be specific about what needs to be done and when. The results you expect to achieve should be clear and effectively communicated to the hired party BEFORE the project begins. Additionally, it is important to ensure that the person has the required licenses or certifications to complete the work.
While cost should not be the sole determining factor, it is important to understand the expected timeline for completing the work and set a realistic timetable for achieving the desired results with a week of wiggle room max. Contracts should be used, and of course, the work should be documented. For large projects that will be subcontracted, a formal statement of work should be used.
4. Focus on Solutions and Automation
Successful people devote 90% of their time to solutions and only 10% to problems.
Do you spend too much time worrying about problems without taking action? It’s time to shake things up. Focus on solutions, not on problems. When McDonald’s faced a decline in sales, they didn’t wallow in despair; they got creative. All-day breakfast and “Create Your Taste” kiosks boosted sales and improved customer satisfaction. hey got creative and came up with an all-day breakfast and “Create Your Taste” kiosks, which not only boosted sales but also made their customers happier. Successful companies don’t let problems hold them back; they tackle them head-on with a focus on finding solutions. By shifting your mindset to focus on solutions, you empower yourself to take charge of the situation and find a way forward. This can help to eliminate negative thinking and provide a sense of control.
💡 Focusing on problems may lead to a phenomenon called “analysis paralysis” where a person becomes so consumed with analyzing a situation that they are unable to take any action or make a decision.
Keep in mind that problems are often opportunities in disguise. Each challenge you overcome builds confidence and prepares you for even greater challenges in the future. What we focus on expands. If we focus on problems, we will get more problems. If we focus on solutions, we will get more solutions.
But what about Automation?
When it comes to leveling up your business game, automating your processes can be a major game-changer. To start, take a good hard look at your areas where there is a lot of moving parts to see where you can optimize for maximum efficiency. This could be anything from sales teams to customer service to inventory management – what have you. And don’t worry, you don’t have to drop a fat stack of cash on fancy custom software to get the job done. There are plenty of workflow software and business process automation (BPA) tools available that can help you streamline your processes and up your efficiency game;
- Marketing and Sales Automation: Salesforce Sales Cloud and OmniSend
- Accounting and Finance: Quick Books Online and Xero
- Customer Relationship Management: HelpScout and FreshDesk
- E-commerce Automation: Unbounce and CartHook for Shopify
- Project Management: Marketo and Eloqua
- Email Automation: Gmass and Mailchimp
To get started, you’ll want to identify any and all repetitive tasks in your operation. Check out the standard operating procedures (SOPs) your employees have created to spot these areas in need of automation. Then, prioritize those areas based on the impact they’ll have on your operations and, of course, your customers. Remember, the goal here is to optimize and improve.
5. Have Direction and Purpose
If you want to be a successful entrepreneur, there are two crucial steps you cannot afford to skip. First up, you’ve got to create a proposal that makes sense economically. No use in wasting your time on a project that won’t make you any money, right? Once you’ve got that sorted out, Second, you’ll need to create a plan for scaling the business. You need to have a solid strategy in place to ensure your success.
And how do you do that? Well, for starters, you need to have a clear vision and purpose statement. This is not negotiable, people. If you don’t know where you’re headed, how are you supposed to get there? I’ve seen too many businesses fail because they didn’t have a clear mission or direction. And according to a survey by CB Insights, more than a third of all business failures can be attributed to a lack of market demand – which often boils down to unclear goals or a failure to target the right audience.
Here are some Golden Strategies:
“Recombining“: By blending multiple services into one dynamic offering, you can set your business apart and dominate your niche. Imagine a bakery combining its bread, pastries, and coffee to create a breakfast bundle that’s as satisfying as it is irresistible. Or how about a yoga studio that combines classes, workshops, and retreats to offer a holistic approach to wellness? This tactic is all about finding synergies between your services and leveraging them to create a unique value proposition.
Data-Driven Decisions: Strategizing is a “you reap what you sow” kind of deal. Top brass tends to gripe about the absence of solid data, but the truth is that useful intel is out there for those who seek it.
You’ll also need to set growth targets for the next five years and create a strategy that addresses resource requirements. This sets the foundation for individuals and teams to make good decisions and collaborate to move the business strategy forward. If you have a strong purpose and long-term perspective, while also considering key stakeholders, your business will have a better chance of long-term success. The goal should be to create value for society, not just for investors.
To achieve this, create a team charter and outline how your strategic vision informs decision-making. Talk to key customers and challenge the status quo. Hold CEO-led strategy workshops, create strategic thinking councils, rank initiatives, assess your organizational culture, increase transparency in performance metrics, and cascade SMART goals. These are some practical steps you can take to make progress toward your growth targets.
6. Be Open-Minded to Evolve
How do I know what’s Trending?
You need to be plugged into the industry’s pulse and have a sharp sense of what’s in and what’s out. The first step is identifying a need, and then figuring out how to meet that need better than anyone else. With a little luck and a lot of savvy, you might even start a trend! You need to be connected to stay on top of the latest trends. Follow top influencers and industry brands, track your data with analytics systems, and network with experts in the field. Build a tribe of advisors who can help you navigate the choppy waters of trendspotting, ask the right questions, and always listen to your customers.
Time series analysis and econometric models are two popular techniques used in forecasting and predicting trends. Time Series Analysis is a statistical method that involves analyzing historical data to identify patterns and trends over time. It can be used to forecast future trends based on past performance.
Some tools that could help include:
- Google Trends (The Obvious)
- Ahrefs (The Second Obvious)
- Exploding Topics (My Favourite)
- Similar Web (Powerful)
Econometric Models, on the other hand, are mathematical models that use statistical and economic theory to analyze and forecast relationships between variables. These models can be used to forecast the impact of changes in variables, such as changes in price or consumer behavior, on a brand’s sales or revenue.
Netflix is a famous example of a company that leveraged the power of econometric models to pivot its business model. Back in the early 2000s, the streaming revolution was still a twinkle in the eye of the tech industry, and Netflix was busy dominating the DVD rental-by-mail game. But as the winds of change started to blow, they knew they had to adapt to stay ahead of the curve. So, they began investing heavily in streaming technology and original content. To make sure they were making the right moves, they turned to econometric models to crunch the numbers and analyze customer data. With these models, Netflix was able to predict the impact of different pricing and content strategies on its business, and make informed decisions about its transition to streaming.
💡 The world is spinning faster than ever, and technology is running the show. After all the analysis if you discover that you need to change your business model, have a clear idea of the desired end result or goal, and then figure out the necessary steps to achieve that goal by working backward from it.
Assess your clients’ present-day requirements and consider who else might benefit from what you have to offer. What problems are you tackling? What resources are necessary to bring your unique value proposition to fruition? Do you earn before you spend? How do you create recurring revenue streams? What’s your retention rate among customers? How do your costs compare with those of your competitors? And, most crucially, how scalable is your business model? Answer these questions truthfully and thoroughly to determine if you need to offer a new service, shift your target audience, or make a complete 180.
Hard Smart Work Sets You Apart
When it comes to working, we all know the drill: hustle hard, grind harder, and pump out results like a factory worker on a caffeine overdose. But what if, instead of obsessing over efficiency, we prioritized efficacy? It might just blow your mind. The trick is to pause before plunging into a task, and ask yourself: “What’s the ultimate goal here?” and “Is there a better path to reach it?”. It’s not about controlling every aspect of our work, but optimizing how we approach it.
What does Working Smart Exactly mean?
- Email Wastes Time = So find a way to free up that email time. The average office worker spends about three and a half hours checking their work email every day.
- Use technology to your advantage: There are many apps and tools available that can help you stay organized, manage your time, and automate repetitive tasks.
- Learn to say no: Don’t take on more than you can handle. Learn to say no to tasks that are not important or do not align with your goals.
Staying productive (not multi-tasking) is also smart. Delegation is a crucial skill that can be challenging for those who obsess over control, perfection, and micromanaging. It actually makes you more productive, believe it or not. Companies who delegate generate at least 20% more revenue than those who don’t.
Create a Workflow
When it comes to productivity, creating a workflow is key. This means breaking down tasks into modular steps that can be repeated faster and more efficiently each time. Our brains function best in cycles of 90-120 minutes followed by a 20-30 minute break, known as basic rest-activity cycles. To optimize your workflow, work in blocks of time to stay focused and avoid distractions. Don’t get lost in the weeds of small tasks; instead, focus on what truly drives progress. As a pro tip, start your day by prioritizing three to five critical tasks on a smaller to-do list, aka your MITs. This approach helps you feel accomplished and prevents overwhelm. So, streamline your workflow, make the most of your time, and crush your goals.
8. Offer an Excellent Product/Service
Let’s cut the crap and get straight to the point: a great product is the foundation of any successful company. Marketing and PR might be able to generate hype, but they can’t save a bad product from sinking like a lead balloon, period. When you’re envisioning a new product or startup, it’s easy to get swept up in the excitement and potential of success. But remember that many products and startups have failed in the past for good reasons. From these failures, you can learn valuable lessons that will help you build a better product.
It’s best, to begin with, a minimum viable product that you can test and measure. Rather than making sweeping changes that are difficult to measure and test, you should iterate your product based on feedback and learning. It’s important to understand what your users are looking for so that you can keep your product simple and straightforward, rather than trying to cram it full of every possible feature.
To build a great product:
Meet User Need
It’s not an easy task, but it’s definitely doable. Start by following some basic principles, like asking questions and utilizing data. Don’t waste time on small details until you’ve ensured that what you’re building is what the market needs.
And speaking of the market, make sure you understand your value proposition from the get-go. Don’t just assume that people will use your product. Ask them if they would. That’s right, talk to your customers. And don’t just talk to them once. Keep talking to them throughout the product development process to refine your product accordingly. Prototyping is a crucial step in the process. It allows you to interact with customers and get their feedback on what works and what doesn’t before you launch your product.
Fulfill User Experience
Even seasoned product managers and designers should rely on data rather than intuition. One common mistake is to become so infatuated with your own ideas that you fail to recognize flaws. It’s vital to be passionate yet objective, thinking like an investor rather than becoming emotionally attached to your ideas.
When we think of successful products like Google Pixel, Airbnb, and Tesla, we tend to overlook the many products that have failed. The 90% of products or startups that have failed in the past had strong reasons behind their failures, and we can learn from these failures to build better products. Starting with a minimum viable product and iterating based on testing, measurement, and learning is more effective than making significant, time-consuming changes that are difficult to measure and test.
9. Customers, Customers, Customers
Simply making your customers happy isn’t enough to keep them loyal. Customers are everything. Optimizing customer journeys has the potential to boost customer satisfaction by 20% while also increasing revenue by up to 15%. They’re the fuel that keeps your engine running, and without them, your ride is going nowhere fast. So, it’s important to treat them like the valuable humans they are. Don’t just see them as numbers on a spreadsheet, but rather as people who deserve your respect and appreciation. Rather, they want to feel valued, appreciated, and respected. You should treat your customers like people, and recognize and reward them for their loyalty.
Customer support is not just some cost center that drains your resources. No, it’s actually a growth center that can help your business thrive. But to create a great customer experience, you need to prioritize consistency, honesty, trust, and mutual respect. This means taking care of everything from returns and exchanges to delivery, billing, cancellations, and product information. Again, customer frustration, annoyance, and disappointment – all stemming from unmet expectations – can quickly drive them away from your brand. To prevent this, set reasonable expectations and then strive to meet them.
Here is how to treat clients like people:
- Show genuine gratitude by thanking customers for their business.
- Acknowledge customers on special occasions and provide personalized attention.
- Create a VIP list for loyal clients and provide them with special offers.
- Listen to feedback and make changes to better cater to customers’ tastes.
- Offer a personalized customer service experience by following up with customers, being proactive, and going the extra mile to resolve any issues.
10. Cultivate a Strong Relationship
Establishing robust and lucrative customer relationships is pivotal for any enterprise, and keeping abreast of emerging customer demands, social media patterns, and communication platforms is vital. Nevertheless, the underlying principles of customer relationship management (CRM) have remained intact despite the test of time. CRM adoption is set to grow by 12% in the coming 5 years. As a customer-focused entrepreneur, it is imperative to understand what your customers hold in high regard. Listen attentively to their inclinations and tailor your methods accordingly to cater to their preferences. Some prefer a personal touch, while others value speed and affordability.
- Building strong customer relationships takes time. Not every interaction has to be perfect, but consistency is key.
- Consider using customer relationship management software to help manage your relationships over time.
- Customers have different preferences, so handle them differently based on customer segmentation to optimize the value of each relationship.
- Be sensitive to customers’ time constraints. If they’re in a hurry, get straight to business. If they want to chat, engage with them.
- Simplify the customer experience by presenting a single face to customers, consolidating information from different departments, functions, and channels.
- Present a Single Face to Your Customers. Simplify the customer experience by consolidating information from different departments, functions, and channels.
- Keep the right customers. Customer knowledge and differentiated treatment improve retention capabilities.
“Bless” your most valuable customers with personalized attention. Make them feel like they’re on the A-list. Stay consistent with your interactions and don’t leave your customers hanging or guessing about what to expect. Not only can this increase customer lifetime value, but it can also reduce wastage and develop brand advocates.
Bonus (Tips to Succeed in Business)
Manifest a Growth Mindset
Adopting a growth mindset means constantly striving to improve through personal development. Reflect on your motivations for change and surround yourself with like-minded individuals who can offer valuable insights. Embrace failure as part of the learning process and seek out challenges as opportunities for growth. Avoid seeking approval from others and focus on learning and growth.
Finance is a vast field that involves managing funds, building budgets, and planning for growth. As a growing business, you manage funds and cash flows, use funds more efficiently, and assess financial health and identify opportunities for growth. To succeed in this domain, it is important to network with finance professionals, and mentors, and have a strong desire to learn.
Here are some recommended finance podcasts I love:
Optimism is not Stupid
If you want to be able to bounce back from negative events and believe that you can achieve positive outcomes, you gotta work on your optimism game. While genes and the environment shape optimism, you can enhance it through mindfulness, gratitude, and writing down positive emotions. Focus on the present, appreciate what you have, and jot down good feelings.
More Business FAQs
How do Small Businesses Succeed?
- Offering a quality product or service that meets a market demand to build loyal consumers
- Effective marketing and branding to set the company apart from the competitors
- Understanding the possible consumer base and competitors in order to create a brand that meets the demands of the market.
- Hiring the proper individuals to help the firm expand, especially those with varied skill sets and experiences.
What is the first rule of business?
The first rule of business is to never go out of business. That is, the basic goal of every company should be to assure its existence.
Assuming this notion, it seems rational for entrepreneurs and small business owners to dedicate their focus to the action that has the most direct impact on the company’s continued existence: revenue. Nevertheless, this is not always the case.
What makes a business fail?
Small businesses encounter several challenges that might lead to failure. To protect your company, you must first understand these risks and how to prevent them. Lack of capital, an insufficient management team, a faulty business model, unsuccessful marketing initiatives, not putting the customer first, not hiring the right people, doing it all yourself, lack of flexibility, lack of innovation, and not understanding your industry are the most common reasons small businesses fail.
💡 To start a successful business: Market Research –> Business Plan –> Funding –> Domain/ Place –> Build an Excellent Product –> Master Organic Traffic.
Establishing trustworthiness and expertise in your industry is crucial. Transform your knowledge into action, and you’ll be on your way to running a profitable business that satisfies your customers.
You need to have a crystal-clear vision for your business and a solid plan to back it up. Take the time to really get to know your target market and your competition. You gotta have a killer brand and marketing strategy to attract and retain your customers. Your brand should be so strong that people can’t resist coming back for more. And when they do come back, you gotta deliver the goods even better. We hope you gained some valuable insight from this blog, Stay up to date with the latest trends and technologies in your industry, and be ready to pivot and adapt when the market shifts. You gotta stay ahead of the curve if you want to stay on top.