• Entrepreneurship

Advice for starting and growing a successful business

Guest Blogger | September 24, 2013

There are various factors that contribute to business success and a few of them are discussed in this article. Building a business is like building a house, flying an airplane, and raising the child from cradle to maturity. It takes time, money and efforts. Before launching a business of your desire, you have to consider doing a couple of things step-by-step as summarized below:

  1. Preparation: Starting and running a successful business is a great idea and can be exciting, like an adventure, a “bold undertaking: an undertaking involving uncertainty and risk.” That’s why it’s a “venture,” meaning “a business enterprise that involves risk but could lead to profit,” or a “risky or daring undertaking that has no guarantee of success.” Knowing this, you’ve got to get well prepared to launch into it. Prepare your mindset to receive the mixed grill, enjoy the fun and face the challenges with courage and determination. As an aspiring or budding entrepreneur, the risk involved in business is not to scare you away, but to better inform you of what you’re getting into. “To be forewarned is to be forearmed.” It’s for you to know that you’re undertaking a project of which success is not guaranteed, and so you have to do your homework very well to minimize the risk of business failure and maximize your likelihood of success.
  2. Education and training: Your preparation should include quality business education and training (including lifelong continuous education), to gain and advance knowledge and skills for delivering the best quality product/service and be more competitive in the market. “Knowledge is power.” A business can fail due to lack of requisite knowledge on the part of the entrepreneur. Getting the necessary business skills training is an essential supplement in starting and running a successful business. Hands-on practice of what you’ve learned is also essential because “practice makes perfect.” You need more time focusing on understanding and applying the concepts and fundamentals of developing and managing a successful business. There are many free and low-cost business training centers, both online and in-class to get the basic training. To grow a sustainable business, you need a solid foundation of knowledge to build on; training and education provide just that.
  3. Research: Thorough research is very important. Research provides you hidden information to build your knowledge and develop effective strategies. Before launching your new business, I would recommend you do your research or homework well. If you’re not patient to do it, leverage on someone who can help you at little or no cost because of your budget limitation. Research the product/service idea you propose to offer, the particular industry in which your business will operate, your target or potential market, competitors, suppliers, etc. Your research doesn’t guarantee success of the business however. Research helps you with gathering market information and intelligence, to make the right decisions, prepare a solid business plan, know a viable business, make a good business case, estimate the costs (including start-up and operating costs of doing business), and makes you smarter than your competitors who don’t do research.
  4. Business logistics: Understanding and gathering your business requirements or resources is very important. The background work to gather your business logistics requires knowledge, effort and time management skills. It involves the process used to select suppliers and negotiate contracts for delivery of goods or services, streamlining and controlling the flow of products/services through the supply chain from point of production to the end user, the modes of delivery of finished products to the customer, and reuse of products and materials to reduce logistics cost, enhance service, and save natural resources. All companies including small businesses deal with logistics, your business will not be exempted.
  5. Numbers: Business is a numbers game. You need to understand and know the rules of the game. Don’t overlook the numbers because there’s a message behind them; a coded language of business. You’ve got to learn to decode it to know what your business is saying to you. The numbers tell you how your business is doing; when it’s sick or healthy.
  6. Planning: Proper planning is an essential element of a business’ success. To plan effectively, you need quality data; accurate, reliable, up-to-date and timely. An entrepreneur or business manager, who fails to plan, plans to fail. Do effective strategic and tactical planning. You need a “Game Plan” for success. Your planning helps you create a business structure and put a system in place. A business should have structure and systems to help it function effectively and efficiently and produce desired results. In a system, if something goes wrong in a sub-system, the entire system is affected, so it is in a business. You need to understand and master the key functional areas of business – operations, sales and marketing, finance, management/administration – to be able to know their inter-relatedness and interactions, and also the pulse and health of your business. The cash-flow is the life blood of the business, and the ability to generate customers fast will keep and sustain you in business. Marketing and sales efforts would bring in the customer’s money into the business. That’s why in business, the customer is the King. Without customers, you’re not in business, leading to business failure.
  7. Early immersion: Early immersion of children into business and entrepreneurship will be very beneficial to them and society. There are opportunities and encouragement these days for young people to start and operate their own businesses, even while in school, like the Summer Company and others. Business and entrepreneurship journeys can start early in life, from the family setting, if the family has a business, and by including it in the school curriculum.

These seven (and other essentials not covered in this article) are critical factors for business success.

By Christiana Mbazigwe, Duric Business Solutions, Toronto, ON, CYBF mentor