When you start a business, you no doubt take measures well in advance to maximize your chance of success.  You write up a business plan, choose a location, and procure financing.  Even with lots of research and preparation, it can be difficult to predict how well your business will perform.

Here are some tips on improving your chance of success.

  1. Master your networking skills.  Put simply, networking consists of building mutually beneficial working relationships.  Effective networking will work wonders for your business in a variety of ways.  You will be able to reach a wider customer base, exchange ideas with fellow small business owners, get advice from successful entrepreneurs, and even create professional partnerships.  Start by contacting your local chamber of commerce, attending industry conventions, establishing your internet presence, and by getting involved in the community (volunteering, hosting events).  You should consider networking to be a mandatory responsibility to the growth of your business.
  2. Tune out negativity.  Sometimes it is difficult to avoid hearing negative talk from others.  Perhaps those around you doubt your abilities, maybe they’re trying to prepare you for failure, or it could be that they simply don’t understand your desire to be your own boss.  The good news is that none of this matters.  As long as you believe in yourself, you can succeed.  Learn to tune out the negativity that others put out by creating positive self-talk, developing a mantra, and reminding yourself of your own strengths and accomplishments.  Seek out others who share your goals and views and who will add to your self-confidence, not diminish it. 
  3. Keep taking risks.  You’ve already taken the biggest risk of all by starting your business.  You will be faced with a great number of decisions that carry some level of risk throughout your career as a business owner.  Don’t be afraid to take risks just because there is a chance of failure or a setback.  For example, a veteran small business owner decides he wants to broaden his exposure and market himself as an expert in his field.  To begin, he has booked some local speaking engagements at vocational schools and community colleges.  It’s risky for him to take time away from his business to try public speaking, something completely new.  However, the potential for him to market himself as a brand can have positive impact on the business.  The risk is definitely worth it.  As long as you make educated decisions about your business and have backup plans in place in case of unforeseen events, risk-taking can lead to great success.
  4. Hire wisely.  No one is good at everything.  You may be brilliant at interacting with others and face-to-face selling, but horrible with organization and accounting-type tasks.  This is where it becomes extremely important to hire people who can make up for those weaknesses.  If you don’t have a head for numbers, look to bring on board someone who is.  You wouldn’t attempt to build a tree house if you didn’t know a hammer from a hatchet, so don’t do it with your business.  Identify your weaknesses, and hire people who are good at those things so your business prospers.

Owning a business does require some trial and error, but if you are prepared with the important things and follow the above suggestions, your chances of success are greatly improved.

What else do you think should be added to this list?  Please leave your ideas in the comments section below!