This article was created by BlogHer for LegalZoom.
Owning a small business isn’t easy. It takes skill, trial and error, and patience to get your business where you want it to go. After all, Rome wasn’t built in a day. While success doesn’t happen overnight, ensuring your small business is successful does take certain qualities that, unfortunately, not every company shares. According to Business News Daily and The Conference Board, a non-profit business membership and research group organization, there are three qualities successful businesses share, regardless of industry or geography. The Conference Board identified 56 companies that rank highly in leadership, financial performance and people management and then surveyed 76 executives at 27 of those companies to learn how their businesses are run.
This isn’t an end all be all list as there are other traits and tools that make a business successful as well. However, if you’re a business owner wondering how to grow your company, these qualities are a good place to start or strive for as you grow. Read below for insights, tips and what it takes to have a small and successful business.
1. Use resources effectively and efficiently
A small business may not have as many resources at its disposal as larger corporations. That’s why a successful small business is creative in how they think and the environment they cultivate. What does that mean exactly? Well, it means facilitating a culture of rigor and standards for financial stability. Essentially, having a business plan can go a long way. A small business owner should create a plan that outlines the type of company it is, sales and marketing plans, personnel needs, etc. In addition, small businesses will also want to require process around fiscal management, oversight and decision-making, and carry out their strategies with as much ease as possible.
And one way to ensure you have resources is to have credit available, which is a must-have for starting a small business. “Less than a year after opening that [credit] line, I had the opportunity to purchase good inventory from a store that went out of business for pennies on the dollar,” Tim Delaney, owner of Elma Wine & Liquor, says. “It was still a very large purchase though, and having the line of credit available to move quickly and make an offer ultimately allowed me to secure that inventory and vastly improve my profitability that year.”
2. Build a team of satisfied employees
Successful companies have the organizational ability to hit their business objectives and goals. In order to build said organization, the secret lies in finding and retaining talent. Regardless of the size of your business, every employee brings something to the table and is therefore detrimental to the company’s success. When a business can see that and strives to create a thriving company culture, it only leads to employees wanting to put forth more of an effort to help the company grow.
3. Focus on customer service
Although small businesses will want to keep an eye out for turnover rate, they’ll also want to create a strong customer-centric culture. To do that, your business will have to deliver high-quality products and services while focusing on the ever-changing needs of the consumer. Not everyone working at your business will have perfect customer service skills, so invest in this aspect of growing your business with regular trainings as this can go a long way for every member of the company. Remember, exceeding the customer’s expectations is a great first step in generating revenue and attracting more customers to their business.
How can small business owners deliver?
Being a small business owner is exciting, but also presents challenges. In addition to honing these qualities, it also helps as you’re navigating the small business space, to hear from people who’ve been there, done that. Tytus Golas, CEO of Tidio—a startup software as a service (SaaS) company that helps e-commerce small business owners grow their online stores with live chats and chatbots—shares advice he was given when he was starting out in the business world. “A piece of advice I was given was to invest in the people,” he says. “This investment means more than just spending money on hiring the right people for the right roles. It also means continuous investment in their growth: budget for education, conferences, courses, workshops, perhaps even coaching or mentoring.”
What are other qualities you should strive for?
As mentioned before, this isn’t a definitive list. There are other qualities you will want to explore as you discover what works for you business and its objectives. Aside from these qualities, you will want to focus on how to best market the company, especially if your business is relatively new and you want to raise awareness. Additionally, qualities such as authenticity (customers can always tell when a business isn’t being genuine), flexibility (not everything will always go according to plan and that’s okay) and fearlessness go a long way in building a successful business.
Being a small business owner, and especially being a woman in the space, there will undoubtedly be some challenges along the way, but it can also be extremely rewarding. And sometimes the most gratifying aspect comes from being unafraid to try new things. Brit + Co. founder Brit Morin shared some sage advice on the subject matter, saying sometimes it’s best to take risks that are outside expectations of you and your brand. She also added that to her, a successful entrepreneur should possess three qualities: confidence, nimbleness, and resilience.