Running a successful business is no easy feat. Planning and projecting will only get you so far, and after a while, you’ll need to grow, learn and adapt in order to achieve continued success. In my years of starting and running a business, working with small business owners across the country, I’ve noticed a few things most successful business owners have in common.
Review Business Plan and Budget
Your business is ever changing, and your business plan and budget should flex along with your business’ growing needs. To successfully launch a business, a business plan and budget together make a great starting point for planning the way your business will grow and flourish. However, even the most fastidiously planned businesses will run into some surprises along the way.
Reviewing your business plan and budget at the end of each year serves as a great way to evaluate the successes and failures your business may have experienced that calendar year. Honestly ask yourself if you are still on your planned trajectory, or if you need to make some modifications in order to see better returns in the years to come. Reallocating funds and efforts in order to increase profits after conducting a business review will be necessary at times, and successful business owners don’t shy away from making these changes.
Embrace Software and Technology
Some business owners are stagnant – doing things the way they’ve always been done. This can include bookkeeping in stacks upon stacks of notebooks, writing paper receipts, sending out old-fashioned mailers and relying on word-of-mouth to sell your service or product. What may have worked 15-20 years ago isn’t likely going to cut it these days.
Embracing technology will not only bring your business into the 21st century, but it will also help your business become more efficient and more profitable. Rely on accounting and bookkeeping software to replace paper balance sheets, keep a website up-to-date and timely, and take advantage of the vast array of marketing tools available to small businesses on the web.
Delegate Job Tasks and Responsibilities
I think it’s part of the entrepreneurial mindset to believe that we can do it all, but the truth is, if you try to do it all, you’ll run yourself mad (or worse). Shouldering all of the responsibilities and tasks needed to grow a successful business yourself will simply burn you out and exhaust you. A tired and disgruntled business owner is not a successful one.
Learn to delegate responsibilities and trust that your team can carry out important tasks in order to grow the business in a responsible way. After all, you hired employees to help you, so let them do their job so that you can focus on more important, higher-level tasks.
Know Your Financials
A business owner that doesn’t know his or her financials is likely headed down the wrong road. Knowing where your business stands in terms of profits and losses is the only way you can make informed choices for your business in the future.
Unfortunately, I regularly deal with business owners seeking financing for their companies who are not current on their financials. It puzzles me that a business owner would seek borrowed money when they aren’t even sure where the money they had gone. A successful and responsible business owner will be current with their financials within the past two weeks and be able to intelligently discuss the financial state of their business.
If you struggle with balancing finances on your own, consider hiring an accounting or a part-time bookkeeper that can help you keep things in order.
Take Calculated Risks
Chances are, if you own your own business, you are a risk-taker by nature. A huge part of becoming an entrepreneur and running a successful business is risk tolerance. Successful business owners strive to see progress every day and are willing to take some calculated risks in order to achieve that goal.
A big part of the willingness to take risks is an entrepreneur’s own personality, the support system that exists around him or her. Your tenacious nature, creativity and intuition for growing your business may only get you so far. You should also build a network of mentors and advisors who will help guide you through important decisions, and also lean on your friends and family for bits of advice when times get tough.