20 Tips for How to Succeed in Business

  • May 10
20 Tips for How to Succeed in Business

Understandably, many Americans feel a strong pull toward starting their own business. After all, it offers them the opportunity to be their own boss, set their own hours, and pursue something they really want to do. But unfortunately, the majority of new small businesses won’t survive past the ten-year mark. Because while setting up shop might first seem simple, knowing how to succeed in business can be tough.

Many SMB owners have great ideas for products or shops that meet the needs of their communities. But the concept of running a business go far beyond ideas and require great execution. So, if you’re looking to get started with a new venture, you need to be sure you understand how to succeed in business.

Fortunately, we have twenty tips that can help you both in the short and long-term. That way, you not only get off to a great start but secure your future as well.

How to Succeed in Business – The Best Practices

1. Find a Mentor to Learn From

Before you even start your business, one of the best moves you can make is finding a mentor. Typically, this means a person who has relevant experience and understands how to succeed in business – particularly your field. But more specifically, they might recognize aspects of your ideas which need refinement and guidance. At the same time, a business mentor looks at the larger picture, helping you plan for the future, develop yourself professionally and become someone who could also mentor others.

The fact that 100% of Fortune 50 companies have internal mentoring programs for their employees speaks volumes to the importance of this sort of relationship. After all, if the most successful companies in the country always engage mentorship, it stands to reason you should as well.

2. Surround Yourself With Trusted Team Members

Of course, the type and size of your business will largely determine whether you have a full team or only a few individuals. However, no matter the number of employees or partners your SMB has, you need to make sure you trust them. If you surround yourself with people, then constantly question their motives and capabilities, it could end disastrously. However, employing people you know you can trust to carry out your ideas leads down a very different path.

Moreover, one of the hallmarks of great leadership is the ability to listen to the advice of those around you. And in that vein, you need to know the ideas and feedback your team provides is worthwhile. If you have to sort through information your closest employees give you to determine whether it’s trustworthy or not, that complicates the process.

Instead, set yourself up with a team that truly has the best of the company in-mind, the capabilities to make things run well, and the drive to succeed. That way, when they come to you with helpful insights, you don’t have to wonder whether they have the organization’s best in mind.

3. Learn from Failures

If you’ve been in business for any amount of time, one thing you’re sure to know is that failures happen. It doesn’t matter how much planning you do, how great a leader you are, or what amount of success you’ve achieved already. At some point, something will go wrong, and the way you respond to that failure is critical.

Of course, there are many wrong ways forward after making a mistake:

  • Ignore the problem entirely
  • Hope it won’t happen again
  • Keep doing the same thing and pray for different results

But none of these approaches actually help solve the issue and come out better for having experienced it. A more mature, sustainable mindset recognizes the importance of learning from failure.

Every experience in business represents an opportunity to grow. If you double down and keep doing the same things, you’ll likely end up with the same negative consequences. However, if you recognize failure, analyze what could have happened differently, and do your best to adapt, you’ll keep learning until you find a way that works.

So, as cliché as it might sound, make sure your failures work for you instead of hindering you. Because at the end of the day, they’re another building block in the foundation of your business.

4. Practice Honest Self-Reflection

As the leader of a business – no matter the size – you must become self-aware and learn to reflect often. And this sort of honest introspection covers a wide range of things from motivations and personal goals to successes and failings. If you fail to recognize these things and stay honest about them, your business probably won’t stay afloat.

For example, some business owners might trick themselves into believing a colossal failure wasn’t a negative setback. And rather than pivoting to a new direction, they may pursue the same path again. Understandably, this sort of inability to recognize a misfire greatly hinders the ability of the business to thrive.

Furthermore, as strange as it sounds, you need to be honest about success. Sometimes, what helps your organization grow isn’t what you envisioned. And in those situations, you need to have the humility not to force a different route.

Overall, the important thing to note is that you might not always recognize how to succeed in business. However, careful and honest introspection can help you better understand what paths you should and shouldn’t pursue.

5. Practice Setting Appropriate Goals

Here, we’re intentionally using the word “practice”, because this sort of activity should be ongoing across the life of your business. You’re not always going to get goals right. Sometimes, you might overestimate you capabilities, and other times you’ll realize you were far more equipped than you realized. However, analyzing the goals you set as well as the results is paramount to success.

Moreover, you need to practice not only setting objectives, but the right kind of objectives – namely, SMART Goals. If you’ve never heard that term before, memorize it:

  • S – Specific
  • M – Measurable
  • A – Achievable
  • R – Relevant
  • T – Time-bound

Every goal you set both individually and as a business should contain these vital aspects. Otherwise, analyzing and learning from them won’t be possible. So, make sure that you put adequate thought and preparation into your objectives, that way, as you continue forward, you know how to fine-tune your sights.

6. Recognize the Importance of Online Presence

The landscape of business has rapidly shifted over the past several decades. And where once brick-and-mortar stores were the primary representations of SMBs, online shops now also account for a decent portion of such businesses. According to Deloitte, around 40% of SMBs sell products online. And while that doesn’t mean they only sell online, the fact that they have a digital presence is notable.

In fact, 71% of businesses have a website, and 20% of those without use social media. So, the importance of web presence should be clear. It’s also worth noting that online visibility has become a sort of mark of authenticity in today’s economy. Businesses which lack a digital footprint and marketing often come across as untrustworthy or inexperienced. So, even if you don’t sell your products virtually, you need to have some sort of information online to build authority.

Ultimately, it’s in your best interest to do so anyway, because 80% of local Google searches end in conversion. In other words, even if you’re a service company, potential customers will use the internet to find you. So, if you’re not there, that business will go to someone else who is.

7. Carefully Consider Customer Feedback

At the end of the day, your business will only be as successful as your customers make it. Because without their patronage and support, you won’t be able to sustain a company for long. That’s why engaging your customers and asking for their feedback is absolutely vital.

Sometimes, business owners make a puzzle out of this, trying to guess and decide what their market wants. Instead, they should simply ask. After all, buyers will often tell you exactly what it is they want, how you can provide it, and what would help set you apart from competition. They’re also extremely likely to let you know what they don’t like.

Pay attention to this sort of chatter, learn from the things your purchasers have said and do what you can to implement changes based on their feedback. Of course, you probably shouldn’t change your entire business model off a single negative comment. But if you receive regular complaints over the same issue, consider addressing it.

Without customers, your business will fail – so, be sure you listen to what they want.

8. Find the Right Price

Interestingly, this isn’t one of the first things you might think of when starting up your company. But knowing how to succeed in business sometimes hinges on finding the right price. Of course, you’ve likely put some thought into this issue if you’ve been in business any length of time. However, the way you consider it might require some change.

As an example, when VTR Learning first started out, we hoped to be a low-cost leader in our industry of continuing education. However, we quickly realized through customer feedback that many people asked whether our courses we’re of decent quality. That’s because we’d actually set prices too low, and compared to others in the field, we sold ourselves short. So, it was only after raising our prices that we started seeing more traction, because more people viewed as as an authoritative source of education.

The point is, setting a price and walking away isn’t always the best action. You might need to play around with it for a while to figure out exactly what works for your industry. In that sense, thoughtful pricing is an absolute must for business success.

9. Never Stop Learning

If we’ve said it once, we’ve said it a thousand times – those who stagnate in their learning set themselves up for failure. Because, as we should all recognize, very few things in business are actually static. Sometimes, practices and methods shift rapidly, and if you don’t stay on top of the changes, you’ll find yourself behind.

Fortunately, there are plenty of options available for business continuing education, such as VTR Learning. We provide online, self-paced courses that range anywhere from cyber security and leadership to international trade and beyond. But if online courses aren’t your thing, not to worry. Plenty of news sources also cover important industry advancements and changes. So, you have no excuse to stop learning.

Your business will never be perfect, and you’ll always find better ways of doing things. But if you never take the time to advance your own knowledge, you won’t be able to keep afloat very easily.

10. Anticipate Changes

Right alongside the need for continuing education in business, leaders must not only know how to stay aware of changes but also anticipate them before they occur. Of course, this sort of flexibility should be built into the overall business plan. Because a road map that reads, “We’ll make it to our destination if everything happens exactly as we foresee it”, is doomed to failure.

That sort of rigid, inflexible plan won’t stand up to the rigors of the industry. So, make sure you understand possible hurdles you could come across while pursuing your goals. And more so, make sure you account for ways to deal with those issues.

Naturally, you won’t be able to foresee or plan for every unexpected setback. After all, that’s why they’re setbacks in the first place. But if you build contingencies and leave room for necessary shifts in your plan, you’ll be in a much better place to deal with challenges.

11. Hold Fast to Your Vision

At first, this might seem contradictory to other points, where we’ve noted the importance of change and growth. But this looks a little bit more at the grand scale of your business. Likely, if you started your own company, no matter the size, you had a vision in mind. Perhaps you were hoping to move away from employers and work only for yourself. Maybe you wanted to introduce a product you felt could truly change society for the better. Alternatively, you might fall somewhere in between.

Even if the way you go about accomplishing your primary goals changes drastically, it doesn’t mean the vision itself has to as well. In a sense, there are many paths to the same place, and jumping to the next road over doesn’t alter the end destination. So, even as you shift from one tactic or focus to another, always remember why it is that you started your business in the first place.

This will, in some ways, provide you the necessary motivation to keep striving forward. Because remembering that you have an overall goal can help alleviate the stress and anxiety of the smaller details, at least in part. That way, when things get rough, you have a bright spot to look toward that keeps you going.

12. Understand How to Delegate

As the leader of a small business, unless you’re the only employee, you already recognize the importance of delegation. After all, if you weren’t going to trust other individuals to cover important tasks, why would you have hired them in the first place? The problem is that, even after recognizing the need to delegate, many owners struggle to carry through.

In other words, they might hire employees and then feel the need to micromanage their work. And this can lead to feelings of resentment for both parties. Because workers will feel constant stress of oversight while leaders feel the need to do all the important work themselves.

Understanding how to appropriate delegate tasks and learn to trust the workers you hire is vital if you want your organization to function efficiently. So, take steps to let go on tasks that your employees can handle, that way, you can focus on those more suited to your roll as owner.

13. Find Helpful Tools and Software

Knowing how to succeed in business often requires an understanding of the various tools and software at your disposal. Because trying to manage every aspect of your organization manually quickly gets overwhelming. Fortunately, many programs make these processes easier and much simpler than doing them on your own.

Of course, what sorts of software you might need ultimately comes down to an array of factors like industry, budget, and so on. But suffice it to say that if you have a need, there’s likely a tool available. In fact, some of the most common business tools include uses for:

  • Communication
  • Project Management
  • Collaboration
  • Customer Relationship Management (CRM)
  • Accounting

But there are plenty of other tools out there as well. So, do your best to research the different ones available to help your company run more efficiently.

14. Know What to Automate

Especially when it comes to small businesses and startups, you don’t always have the resources to handle every task manually. And that’s why understanding how to automate different systems and processes can make such a major difference for overall business efficiency. For example, you could spend hours upon hours sending out emails to customers. And if you personalized each one, it would take even longer. However, there are plenty of tools out there which allow you to automate those types of messages, even filling in blanks for personalized touches.

Of course, we don’t have the space to name every process you could or should automate. And moreover, we can’t tell you what you need to do in this sort of situation. That comes down entirely to what resources you have, and what you want to spend your time on. But as with the different needs that tools can meet, there are almost always ways to make your processes more efficient through automation. So, be on the lookout for ways of handling everyday tasks in this manner. That way, you free yourself up to hit critical processes yourself.

15. Learn How to Pace Yourself

If you’ve ever had a great idea before, you probably understand the feeling when your mind starts working. The wheels start turning and, before you know it, you have ten new ideas to stack on top of the first one. And having a vision is great. You need it in order to help your business thrive. However, you also have to learn to pace yourself.

Many people go into business expecting overnight results. After all, they understand how fantastic their idea is, so won’t everyone else? More than likely, no. At least, not in such a short amount of time. So, rather than getting ahead of yourself and trying to take a dozen giant steps all at once, make sure you know how to plan for short steps over the long-term. That, in itself, will help contribute to the longevity of the business.

Of course, it’s easy to become discouraged whenever you don’t see immediate results. But recognize that this is typical. Even good products can take some time to build up. But at the end, the process is worth waiting through. So, keep thinking and planning, dream big. But temper those dreams with realistic SMART goals to help pave the way.

16. Fine-Tune Your Processes

Chances are, things will look quite a bit different a year after you start your business than they do on your opening day. That’s because you’ve had the opportunity to learn what works well, what doesn’t, and start implementing some changes. That’s an entirely necessary part of the entire journey. If you fail to refine your processes along the way, it shows a lack of attention to detail at best. A potentially worse outcome is an unwillingness to grow or change. Either way, it could become extremely detrimental to your business.

As you go along, you need to make sure you refine your various processes. Fine-tune them as you learn more about what works well for your team and what doesn’t. Not all businesses have to look the same. In fact, not every business can look exactly like another in the way it functions. So, even if you have relevant previous experience in a similar organization, you still need to pay attention to different ways to make your current business as efficient as possible.

17. Develop Your Leadership Skills

As the owner and most likely leader of an SMB, one of your primary goals to help your company succeed is developing your leadership skills. After all, if you put together a team but have no viable way of directing them toward the goals you want to accomplish, it won’t matter. Even if those members have amazing skills and capabilities, a leaderless organization cannot survive. So, make sure you focus on key areas of development, such as:

  • Vision and planning
  • Decision-making
  • Delegation
  • Communication
  • Emotional Intelligence

Of course, there are plenty of other areas to focus on as a leader, but these represent a few of important ways you can get started.

18. Seek Out Beneficial Partnerships

As a business owner, you don’t automatically have to view every other organization as a competitor, even in the same sphere. In fact, you might even find various opportunities to partner with different companies for a mutually beneficial relationship.

For example, VTR Learning partners with different online learning organizations who create content apart from what we already offer. That way, we can bring a wider range of learning opportunities to our audience.

Naturally, the sorts of partnerships you find will largely vary with different industries. So, how you go about forging these relationships will look quite different from one sphere to another. However, finding ways to work together rather than against each other is often a way to help secure your business’ future. If and when the opportunity arises, make sure you look into it.

19. Understand the Importance of Thinking

As a manager in any capacity, you need to recognize that a major part of your role is thinking. So much of the time, we fall into a trap of believing that if we aren’t producing tangible, physical results from our efforts, we haven’t worked. However, setting aside time to think through issues, plans, potential futures, and a host of other things is essential to leading an organization well.

If you find you always keep busy with different tasks that don’t end up making a real difference, the need to think is even higher. It might seem somewhat excessive, but start by setting aside fifteen to thirty minutes of your workday to sit and ponder. Sometimes, you’ll find solutions that you didn’t see before or new ways of doing things that make your business better than ever.

In the long-run, the core benefit is not only that you’ll find inspiration but that you’ll have learned how to think well. And that sort of mental training is invaluable in other situations where quick decision-making and complex mental work have to happen.

20. Create a Great Customer Experience

Finally, we come to one of the most integral parts of knowing how to succeed in business. You have to create a great customer experience, otherwise, you won’t keep people coming back for more. And this holds just as well for virtual businesses as it does for brick-and-mortar, physical stores. From the time a customer steps onto your site or through your doorway, everything should function to make their experience with you seamless.

Of course, what works for your audience will change over time. And in some cases, by individual. So, you won’t always be able to cater to the needs of every person. However, this is where you can start pulling in valuable customer feedback to help shape your setup. Ask your clients what works for them and what doesn’t. Study competitors to see what they do well. Experiment with different setups and layouts. Then, continue to refine and fine-tune everything to ensure every visitor has as helpful an experience as possible.

Learn More About How to Succeed in Business

Even if you employ every tip we’ve listed here for how to succeed in business, things could still get rough. There are plenty of unforeseeable factors that make longevity difficult and stand in the way of your organization. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t be prepared.

In fact, VTR Learning can help with this problem explicitly. We have a host of courses designed to give you the knowledge you need to succeed in your business endeavors. Particularly, our management courses offer some great information on how to lead your organization forward. So, if you’re new to leading an SMB or just want that extra help, be sure to check out our courses today.

Article written by Braden Norwood

Last updated May 9, 2024