Entrepreneurs are a unique breed. Along with the potential for significant success, venturing into the business world as the CEO of your own company definitely comes with risk. Research conducted by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics indicates only 25% of new businesses are still operating after 15 years.
Sustaining a profitable company requires a combination of ambition, grit, hard work, passion, vision, strategic thinking and more. No matter what the business is—whether it’s a fintech startup or a restaurant—successful entrepreneurs like John Cestar have confidence in their abilities and are not afraid to put in hard work. Here are six other secrets they share.
Have a solid business plan.
“The best way to predict the future is to create it.” – Peter Drucker
A comprehensive and well-thought-out business plan is the foundation of any prosperous company. Furthermore, it’s what investors will look at to determine whether they want to financially back your endeavor. Essentially, a business plan explains what your company does and how. It gives information about the product or service you provide, what problem or need in the marketplace this addresses, who the target customer is, what your competition is doing, the status of your finances, and who your team or partners are. The plan covers how you will execute your enterprise, outlining major milestones. It is fundamental to guiding your company forward.
Tell people what you’re about.
“To give real service you must add something which cannot be bought or measured with money, and that is sincerity and integrity.” – Douglas Adams
It’s important to be clear and forthcoming about why you are in business and what drives you to deliver the best product or service. This begins with a mission statement that defines your objectives and your approach to reach them. Don’t forget to prepare a compelling vision statement that describes your company’s future as well. The story of how and why you launched your business will help people connect with you on an emotional level and inspire loyalty from clients. Outlining your specific commitments, like offering customized service or a money-back guarantee, ensures transparency.
Hire the best people you can afford.
“Talent is the multiplier. The more energy and attention you invest in it, the greater the yield.” – Marcus Buckingham
If you’ve been in business for any length of time, you’ll know full well that hiring good talent is critical to a company’s success. Considering the time and effort that goes into advertising, recruiting, interviewing, hiring, and onboarding, you want to make sure that you get the right people for the roles you need. Think about the skillset that you want to hire for and how to attract the best candidates—and keep in mind that “soft” skills and qualities like loyalty, emotional intelligence, and determination are sometimes just as important as hard skills. It could be that offering an internship to a recent graduate is a productive option. Once you’ve onboarded new staff, give them the chance to be more effective in their jobs by offering training, listening to their ideas and soliciting their opinions. Thriving companies rely on the commitment of long-term skilled employees.
Know your customer.
“It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it.” – Warren Buffett
Customer satisfaction is key to the success of any enterprise. Collect customer data. Ask for customer feedback. Learn who uses your service or product—what they like about it and what they don’t. Is there a change you could make that might enhance your business or resolve a recurring issue? Dig deep into sales data, online reviews, and social media posts to find out what people are saying about your company. Then, act quickly to make improvements.
Network with others.
“A leader is one who knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way.” – John C. Maxwell
Stay informed about what’s going on in your industry. Monitor new approaches and trends. Reach out to those leaders who have more experience than you do and build relationships with them. You may even want to seek out a mentor if you are completely new to entrepreneurship. Consider joining local business forums, professional organizations, and industry groups. Remember that the larger your network, the more people you can potentially call upon for help—the old saying that business is all about “who you know” is often true. Networking is how you’ll meet business partners, investors, and critical hires.
“It’s fine to celebrate success, but it is more important to heed the lessons of failure.” – Bill Gates
Remember that business plan? It’s not a static document. Regular reviews of how your company is doing will tell you whether you’re on track to meet your objectives. Stay nimble. It’s not a good idea to keep changing the goalposts or redefining what success looks like, but don’t be afraid to pivot to take advantage of new opportunities or to change course when things aren’t working. If you’re not getting the results you anticipated, something has to change.