The words “business success” has a nice ring to it. It’s easy to imagine a fearless entrepreneur rise from the ranks to create a disruptive business that thrives on brilliant ideas and startling innovations.
In reality, success in business is usually hard-won. Initially, it’s difficult to get a decent return after much effort. Many small businesses fold up after a few years because the early years are often demanding and unrewarding.
However, a few entrepreneurs manage to keep the lights on long enough to put the essential pieces together. Although Danny DeMichele has been assisting organizations to get outstanding results with Elevated, his San Diego-based digital marketing company, his success is a convergence of everything he has learned over the past 15 years.
7 Key Factors to Business Success
What do you need to get good at, to experience business success? While there are undoubtedly many keys to business success, you need to master the following 7 business principles to create a successful business:
1. Find your vision.
While many entrepreneurs start their own business to make a lot of money, earning handsome profits is not the purpose of a business. According to the legendary Peter F. Drucker, “The purpose of business is to create and keep a customer.” However, you can only attract customers if you can provide a product or service that improves their life or business. So, in the final analysis, your clear sense of purpose centers around what you can contribute. Everything starts with an attitude of wanting to offer something valuable to the marketplace. Everything starts with a vision.
2. Provide customer satisfaction.
The key metric to a successful business is how well it satisfies customers. Satisfied customers not only continue to buy from your business, but they also recommend it to others. Over time, word-of-mouth promotions will trump any other advertising efforts.
3. Add value.
Customer satisfaction is based on the value customers receive from your product or service. All things being equal, customers must receive a higher value from your products or service than they would from a competitor.
4. Develop outstanding customer service.
While providing a product or service of recognizable value is essential for business success, it’s not the only influential factor. You must also add excellent customer service. This will go a long way in helping you grow your business, and it might tip the balance in your favor even if your product or service is not quite as good as your competitors.
However, customer service is not easy. While many companies give lip service to the principle of customer service, not all manage to provide it. This is because customers are often quirky, unreasonable, demanding and unpredictable, and it takes tremendous focus and commitment to make customer service.
Tony Hsieh, the CEO of Zappos, an Internet-based shoe and clothing company, has created a world class business by making customer service a central theme of his business. He explains how his heavy emphasis on customer service orientation is obvious on his website.
“On many websites the contact information is buried at least five links deep, because the company doesn’t really want to hear from you. And when you find it, it’s a form or an e-mail address. We take the exact opposite approach. We put our phone number (it’s 800-927-7671, in case you’d like to call) at the top of every single page of our website, because we actually want to talk to our customers. And we staff our call center 24/7.”
5. Focus on constant-and-never-ending improvement.
It takes time to build a great business. Unfortunately, many businesses stop trying to innovate when they reach a certain plateau of success.
It’s a mistake to believe that you have “arrived” and that your business success is now locked firmly into place. That’s the mistake Blackberry made. When Apple came up with the iPhone, Blackberries executives did not see it as a threat. In fact, they thought of the iPhone with all its colorful app icons and fancy design as a toy rather than a serious cellphone. Much to their surprise, customers loved the user-friendly functionality of the iPhone, preferring it over the more complex, less functional, and less aesthetically-pleasing Blackberry.
Innovation is a matter of degrees. It’s rarely the result of an overnight discovery because it usually takes a long time to gather one insight after another. However, the commitment to make constant and never ending improvement eventually results in a significant improvement in the quality of a product.
6. Marketing and sales.
Unfortunately, you can be doing everything right—offering a product of obvious value, backing it up with excellent customer service, and constantly making it better—but still fail in business … if you have not also mastered the art of marketing and sales. While average companies do both well enough to make a decent profit, the most successful companies spend a lot of time, money, and resources to develop highly effective marketing campaigns and build top sales teams.
7. Money management.
Although a business strives to improve profits, making money isn’t always about turning high revenue. If overheads are higher than sales, then an otherwise well-run business will not be successful. If a business were a sports team, then marketing and sales would be the offense and money management the defense. Both are necessary to win.
Apply these 7 principles to your business today to take it to the next level.