How to Make a Small Business Successful

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If you Google “How to Make a Small Business Successful” you will get a myriad of responses.  Some great and some not-so-great.  Here are 12 ways that you can spend time on your business to ensure success.

1. Marketing: 

Your prospective customers need to know that you exist.  Without proper marketing, the likelihood of success is thwarted.  When I say marketing I do not mean some grand plan or strategy that requires tonnes of money to produce and implement.  Marketing is simple: convert people who don’t know you into people who know you.  It can be as simple as getting referrals from existing customers or clients, meeting people at networking events, and even talking to strangers.  Another great way to market your business is through an online presence, which brings us to my next point.

2. Have an online presence:

Online presence these days is really crucial to your business success.  When you are introducing yourself and your business most people will often ask for your website, your Linked In, and/or Facebook account in order to connect with you. If your website and social media are not fully developed and robust they will not leave your prospect with a good impression.  Rigo from OrbitWeb, our digital marketing partner, has written a great article that you can read at:

3. A Robust and well thought out sales process

Companies can fail because their sales process was not laid out and every sales associate was “doing their own thing” or people feel pressured into buying something they never needed or wanted.  In today’s world where people are bombarded with things being sold to them, we want to step away from the whole “sales” thing.  We are recontextualizing sales not only for ourselves but also for our clients.  One of the key attributes of a good sales process is that it does not feel like a sale for your prospect, rather it occurs as a natural evolution of the conversation you are having with your prospect.

4. Delivering on what was promised to the customer

If you ask most companies’ customer satisfaction is high on their list, however, some companies are unable to deliver on that. Oftentimes salespeople promise one thing and the fulfillment department delivers another that leads to a lot of customer dissatisfaction. Often you’ll hear the complaint, “I didn’t get what I asked for.”  Have you ever gone to a hairdresser and asked them to take an inch off and walked out of there with a buzz cut? Now project that experience onto your own business and ask yourself is this the experience we promised our customer? If we screw up, what will we do to fix it? Do we have a customer care process? How do we deal with dissatisfied customers? Do we discard them because they dared to complain and go looking for new customers every time this happens?

All-in-all you want people to say great things about you and buy from you over and over and over again!

5. Empower the People you work with

Oftentimes people are so busy looking at their customers that they forget about their employees, their vendors, their contractors – the associates that they work with all the time.  We as business owners and executives are so busy looking at what we are doing externally i.e. with our customers that oftentimes we overlook how we are interacting with people within the company (internally).   Most companies have a mission, which really is their external mission, that is, how are they going to impact the world. What most companies are missing is an internal mission about how they are going to impact the people they work closely with. The people within your company are as important as your customers. They can make or break your business.

6. Have a plan

Whether it’s a 5-year plan or a one-year plan or just the next 6 months having a destination to work towards is always helpful so we encourage you to have a plan.

When you are starting out, a business plan is not necessary. Most of the time people tell you that you need a business plan – now I am going to say something revolutionary…YOU DON’T! A business plan is required when you are looking for investors or applying for a bank loan. Oftentimes people get caught up in trying to produce a business plan before they take any actions. 

In reality, what is necessary is having a financial sense of where you’re headed and what your upcoming costs are going to be. These future projections can be based on previous experience i.e. you know every January there is a dip in sales and you plan for that or they can be created (because this is a new thing that you have never done before). Expenses can be based on historical expenses and any future expenditures that you are aware of.

Planning leads to a step-by-step process of breaking down future projections into daily actionable tasks that can be started today!  

7. Low Overhead

If you are a small business, keeping the overhead low is key.  Mistakes that business owners make are that they grow too fast usually by hiring people too early or by making a long-term financial commitment (such as an office lease, a fleet of trucks, etc.).  Now I am NOT saying don’t do those things, but what I am saying is that you need to make decisions based on certain key factors rather than emotion, trying to look good to your prospects, or a knee-jerk response to what is happening around you.  

The key point here is that you keep your eye on the prize – the bottom line. This is the most important thing, otherwise, why are you in business? Business is about making money and giving people what they need and want.

If you are a new business or on your way to starting this journey, we have a great article on how to start your business on a shoestring budget:

8. Training

Training yourself and your employees is really important. Ideally, you want a coach or a mentor to guide you to the growth and success of your business. We have worked with many business owners and through our coaching and consulting work we have helped these businesses grow.

Also, developing your skills is always a good idea, whether you take a course on how to use Excel or something more specialized. 

Alongside coaching, we offer our Business Executive Training course, which is 3 days intensive.  You can read more about it at:

9. Do Your Research

As I said earlier, business is about giving people what they need and want.  When you are fulfilling a need for people, the sale is a no-brainer.  

Oftentimes people start a business from a hobby they loved doing and/or were good at.  That’s great but did the market actually need another cookie?  All you bakers out there, don’t hate on me! There is ALWAYS room for more cookies.

Here is the point I am trying to make whether it’s a cookie business or a plastic bottle manufacturer, do your research!

Research can take many forms. When I say research most people think of some scientist in the lab conjuring up new formulas or someone doing hours of deep-diving into the internet and other resources.  And yes research is those things, but there is one thing most small businesses overlook when doing research – 



If the business is about providing what is needed and wanted, you need to talk to people and find out what they need and want. 

10. Take care of yourself

One of the articles I came across said that you should expect to make sacrifices – while I appreciate the sentiment, I also know that sacrificing your health and well-being is not an option. Taking care of yourself is super important.

Business owners will often work really hard in their business at the expense of their health and in my opinion, this is a No Win situation. Eating well, having sufficient sleep and exercising are foundational to your well-being. Also, taking time off where you are not working on the business at all is also important.

11. Small steps every day

Rome was not built in a day. Neither is your business. The business building takes time. It can be a thankless and arduous process, but if you keep working on it, it will pay off.  A great book that really inspired me and helped me understand how there was no such thing as overnight success was “The Slight Edge” by Jeff Olson. I recommend this book to all my clients.  I have read it several times myself. I encourage you to read it as well.

12. Keep the Big Picture in Mind

Sometimes we forget why we started this business when we are in the muck of it. Especially when things are not going the way you think they should be going. Every day (and especially when things are not going well) be present to the vision you created for your business. The sure business may be about making money, but that is not what inspired you. You started this business because you saw a need you could provide for people, you were inspired, you had a fantastic product to offer the market. As a practice, we tell our clients to read their vision and mission every day (or at least once a week). If you want to get clear about your vision, mission, and why you started this business, we can help you with that.

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Navigate Your Business to Success

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