Why is it that some small business owners seem unstoppable, steadily growing their businesses and assets, while others struggle to stay profitable?
Last week I got a call from Phillip in Oregon, whose two online niche lawn care businesses had hit a wall. In just over three years, he had grown his revenue from the two sites to about $200,000 a year. He was happy with the results, but he wasn’t satisfied. His sites were getting over 1,500 visitors a day but his sales had stagnated. Phillip wasn’t sure where to focus his time — and endless energy —to convert those visitors to customers.
Phillip wanted to increase his total sales from the two sites by a factor of ten. His friends had told him he was crazy, but he was convinced he could do it if he could improve his conversion rates.
When I asked Phillip where he thought he needed my help, he was ready with answers. He knew that he needed help; he was aware that his lead generation system was leaky; he knew that he didn’t have any follow-up strategy in place and needed help implementing one. He also mentioned that his product development process often got bogged down.
Listening to Phillip describe his business, I heard a business owner who had all the potential to be extremely successful. He had the five characteristics that highly successful small business owners have.
Do the following characteristics describe you as well?
1. Never 100% Satisfied
Very successful business people are aware of their successes but are always looking for a way to improve their products, services and profits. Another of my clients, Julie, who owns a home health care business, is a good example. She built her business to bring in over six million dollars in revenue and turned down an offer to buy it so she could grow revenue to nine million.
The same thing applies regardless of the size of your company. Toyota, for example, is arguably the most successful car company in the world. Rather than taking success for granted, every employee is expected to look for ways to continually improve the corporation’s products and processes whether its making their cars more reliable or more fuel efficient.
You could be applying the same continuous improvement approach to your small business marketing.
2. Create Opportunity Instead of Waiting For It
Some people are looking and waiting for the right opportunity to open up for them. And they keep on looking and waiting. These people are perpetual dreamers.
Truly successful people may dream about success, but they don’t wait for doors to open. They build the doors and then open them themselves. My client Laurie Nadel is great example of this. At one time a destitute, divorced Brooklyn housewife, Laurie built a thriving coaching practice, helping executives and actors alike people overcome performance anxiety. She created her own business opportunity and now is enjoying its benefits.
3. Not Afraid to Make Mistakes
Few entrepreneurs have found a straight road to success. Many have lost significant amounts of money and time before they learn what works. When I launched my first web site almost ten years ago, I couldn’t find my own site in the search engines. This prompted me to become an expert in search engine marketing. The offshoot of this was a site I created that reviewed and ranked search engines, which I sold at the height of the Internet bubble for a small fortune.
Truly successful people aren’t afraid to stumble or even fail and use their failures as the foundation of their best successes.
4. Aware of Their Limitations
Phillip could point to at least a handful of areas where he knew he needed help to improve, including his follow-up and product development processes. Julie knew her market penetration was limited in one of her target markets.
Successful business people know that one of their competitive advantages comes from identifying what isn’t working and fixing it.
5. Seek Out Expert Help
Is it even possible to become an expert in every aspect of your business? It’s more likely that you’d be a jack-of-all-trades and a master of none. This strategy won’t help you rise to the top.
If you own a small business, it’s just not possible to become an expert in product development, operations, personnel management, accounting, fulfillment, small business marketing, sales and customer service. You’re going to need the help of a handful of experts.
Test Yourself – Do you have what it takes to succeed?
1. Do you push yourself and your employees to improve every aspect of your business?
2. Are you actively creating new opportunities for success?
3. Do you use your mistakes to create new ways of working?
4. Are you aware of your biggest business marketing weaknesses?
5. Are you currently working with experts who can help you take your business to the next level? If not, are you seeking the help you need to grow your business?
How many questions did you answer ‘yes’ to? What’s the next step to achieving your goals?
Highly successful entrepreneurs are dreamers and doers, self-confident and self-critical, with expertise in at least one significant area of their business but aware of what they don’t know. They’re people who take action and try new ideas.