How does one become successful in business?

It’s an often asked question that comes with no easy answers. Many businesses succeed, taking a multitude of paths to reach their goals. But just as many, if not more, fail.

Success in business is not a one-size-fits-all proposition. You might generate decent revenues in the first few years, only to see those numbers steadily decline as time goes on.

Conversely, you could struggle with early growth with several years of red numbers, only to excel into a powerhouse firm within your industry.

So no, there is no singular tried and true formula. There are, however, a handful of factors and tips that can launch your company in the right direction. Consider them building blocks, which can lay a solid foundation on which to shape the rest of your company.

Even if you don’t aspire to be the next Walmart, Exxon or Apple, adopting one or several of the following strategies can give you a greater chance for success.

1. Develop a Business Plan

Whether it’s a new business, a new product or a revamping of either one, create a plan for how you plan to achieve your success. A simple one-page business plan is a great place to start.

Use a business plan to define your objective, what you’ll need to accomplish the objective and when and what data points or metrics you’ll use to measure your success. Your plan should also include your finish line, what the endgame for the particular endeavor looks like and the starting point for your next one.

When developing your business blueprint, there are a couple of things to keep in mind:

  • Keep it simple and straightforward. You want your team to understand it, but it should also be easy for those less familiar with your work. After all, you may need investment dollars, and those individuals will want to have an idea of where their money is going.
  • Allow yourself room to maneuver. Keep the plan flexible and don’t be tied down by any one path or idea. You may need to adjust your language or objectives, so give yourself space to make them.

2. Create Achievable Goals

While your business plan lays out where you want to go and how you plan to get there, goals provide you something to aim toward. After all, if you don’t set any targets, how will you know what your success looks like or if you’ve achieved it?

Business goals serve to give you a concrete measuring stick. Metrics and data are useful tools for tracking success, but goals are tangible outcomes for you to celebrate and generate interest in your company’s mission.

Plus the chance to broadcast that you’ve met projections or exceeded expectations is a huge morale boost for your team and selling point for your company.

Perhaps the most critical aspect of goal setting is to ensure they are both realistic and attainable. The worst thing to do is to set yourself up for failure with unattainable objectives.

Regardless of if your goals involve profitability, new hires or market expansion, develop achievable benchmarks you can reach within a set timeframe. Yes, it’s essential to dream big, but it’s vital to stack up wins and build toward future success off of your present achievements.

3. Organize Your Organization

Though it may seem like a bit of a no-brainer, keeping you and your team focused sets you on a quicker path to success. And it’s not just a matter of maintaining an orderly file system either.

Though it’s easy to mistake chaos as part of the business-building process, it’s not. Disorder and disarray can easily distract your team from their stated goals which cause you to lose valuable productivity and time as you try to grow and expand.

If your business isn’t running at optimal efficiencies, it will reflect in everything you do. Unclear identity, missed deadlines or milestones, lackluster employee performance and unnecessary expenses due to mismanaged finances can all undermine your progress.

To foster an organized business environment, promote methods that establish a positive and shared culture and stimulates buy-in from everyone in your organization. Simple solutions like shared calendars and brief, regular team meetings help employees know who’s doing what and when.

Create robust training programs that not only instruct employees how to do their jobs but also ensure that new team members understand the company culture and its expectations. Celebrate accomplishments by individuals and the overall team to encourage everyone to keep reaching for higher achievements.

Invest in systems that make your company more efficient. Whether its new equipment to speed up tasks or software to automate time-consuming processes, explore ways to maximize productivity.

4. Engage Your Employees and Care for Your Customers

Every business is a people business. From building rocket engines to running a restaurant to mowing lawns, no matter the industry, people are what power a business forward. A more engaged workforce can lead to greater success.

According to a survey from Gallup Research, companies with high employee engagement results in double the success rates of firms without it. This includes lower absenteeism and turnover, more positive safety outcomes and a greater sense of ownership over the whole enterprise.

As chief scientist at Gallup Research, Jim Harter Ph.D. explains that “engaged employees are more attentive and vigilant. They look out for the needs of their coworkers and the overall enterprise, because they personally ‘own’ the result of their work and that of the organization.”

To acquire and retain employees that not only want to be engaged at work but welcome it, devise policies that will attract top talent. Create an environment that promotes work-life balance, offers fair compensation and benefits and harbors a team-first atmosphere. While it may sound costly on the surface, not doing so can end up costing you far more over the long term.

Additionally, define roles within your organization and outline how those positions positively impact the company’s overall mission. Don’t micromanage either. You hire individuals to do a job, so let them take ownership. Not just for their immediate role but also for their part in the organization’s overall success.

The second part of the “every business is a people business” equation relates to your customers. The individuals that actually purchase your goods or services will ultimately determine the success or failure of your enterprise.

Here’s what a single happy customer can mean for your business. They will:

  • Provide you repeat business without the costs associated with acquiring new clients.
  • Refer other, like-minded friends, family and acquaintances to your brand, which can then expose your company to the networks of those individuals.
  • Pay more for your offerings as they believe there is value and worth in the products and services you provide.

Excellent customer service is arguably one of the most cost-effective ways of finding lasting business success. Not only can you expand your footprint at lower costs, but you also establish a reputation as a place that consumers will feel welcome and a brand worth engaging in.

Don’t scoff at feedback. Welcome it and promote systems and methods that make it easier for your customers to engage with you.

The side-effect of cultivating a customer-oriented culture is that it helps to reinforce yours as being a great work environment. It serves to attract top talent because everyone your business touches matters. That’s a place that people will want to spend their time and their money.

5. Master Your Message

Of course, before your business reaches the pinnacle of success, you first must let people know you exist. While easier said than done, there are a few tips for crafting a compelling, lasting message.

Appeal to Your Audience

First, determine the audience your services will appeal to most and craft a message that will draw those individuals closer. Your business’ early success is about achieving early wins, building momentum and giving yourself time (and resources) to expand your reach. Go for the easy victories first, and use your people-first approach to propel your marketing forward.

Share Your Message

Speaking of easy, keep your message and the accompanying marketing simple and uncomplicated. Even the best ideas become major busts if not presented clearly and through accessible channels. Understand what consumers in your specific segment will respond to and supply them your message at the points they converge.

  • Is your niche driven by trade publications or industry-specific events? Make yourself a presence in both.
  • Is social media a preferred communication method for your desired clientele? Create profiles on the platforms where they can directly engage with you.
  • Do you hope to grow organically and reach potential clients that also prove the most loyal? Target your marketing to that niche with special offers and referral bonuses to increase your word of mouth networking.

Final Thoughts

What you do matters in achieving business success. These five tips get to the heart of building lasting success, creating a solid foundation on which your company can thrive:

  • Creating a solid business plan.
  • Defining clear and achievable goals.
  • Promoting focused, organized and well-purposed systems.
  • Celebrating a people-oriented culture, for both employees and customers.
  • Crafting accessible, branded communication that resonates with your audience.

Companies that master the basics are the ones who achieve genuine business success.

Grow in Your Own Business Skills

Develop these skills and practices for achieving business success to empower you to thrive in your business endeavors. Degree programs like a B.S. in Business Administration and Leadership or Master of Business Administration provide you the opportunity to enhance your knowledge, skills and experience on your journey in achieving your professional goals. Continue the conversation today by meeting with an enrollment counselor in taking your next steps.