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Five tips for running a successful business

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Last editedSep 20212 min read

Running a successful business takes passion, dedication, and strategy. The passion and dedication can only come from within you. The strategy, however, can be learned. With that in mind, here are five tips for running a successful business.

Start with the why

Every successful business has a reason for being in business. That’s “the why”. In other words, it’s the reason why people should care about your business. Defining the why can help you answer many other key questions about your business. 

For example, if you know how you’re going to improve someone’s life, you know who your potential customers are likely to be. This in turn gives you a reasonable idea of the size and value of the potential market.

Set appropriate goals

Your goals are essentially your definition of business success. There are various approaches you can take to defining them. In the context of business success, however, the SMART system is probably the most appropriate. These initial goals are just to get you started. As you start getting close to achieving them, you’ll set yourself new ones.

Create a written plan

Your why is your starting point and your goals are your first milestones. Your business plan sets out the path you believe will take you from your starting point to those milestones. Write down your plan in as much detail as you can, then conduct a thorough SWOT analysis on it. Ideally, ask someone you trust for an independent second opinion.

If you identify weaknesses and threats in your plan, then try to address them before you even start your business. If you can’t, then start addressing them as soon as you possibly can afterward.

In particular, make it a priority to deal with anything which may limit your ability to make and receive payments. For example, if you’re setting yourself up as a limited company, apply for a business bank account as soon as your incorporation is confirmed. Likewise, if you’re planning on using a payment processor get your account(s) set up as quickly as you can. You’ll probably have to go through some kind of verification process before you can actively use the account(s), and you may need time to familiarize yourself with the system.

Keep reassessing your plan

As you work on your plan, keep asking yourself three key questions.

  1. Do I still believe in my why?

  2. Do I still believe in my goals?

  3. Do I still believe that I’m on the right path to sustainable business success?

If the answers to any of these questions are “no” then you need to make at least one change. Realistically, this one change will probably lead to others. In a worst-case scenario, you may decide that your business venture cannot succeed. 

If this happens then recognize the difference between business failure and personal failure. Take the lessons you’ve learned, be grateful for them, and move on. Remember that many successful entrepreneurs have at least one failed business behind them. Some have several. They persevered and, in the end, they achieved business success.

That said, if your initial business plan was solid, you’ll likely just make adaptations to it as you go. Follow the same process of writing them down and performing a thorough SWOT analysis on your new plan.

Delegate as much as you can

Traditionally, new entrepreneurs have had to put in a lot of hours to grow their businesses. There is still a lot of truth in this. Fortunately, however, there are many more opportunities for strategic delegation. If you have no money to spare at all, then look for free/freemium tools that can help you automate straightforward but time-consuming tasks.

Using these can help you to grow your business more quickly. You can then use the income from your business to invest in paid-for tools and, ultimately, professional services such as accountants, PEOs, and legal support.

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