It is a sad fact that 80% of all new businesses will fail within the first 18 months. Sadly, most businesses fail for some very common reasons. Interestingly enough, some of the same secrets to building a successful business are the same things that can help you be successful in any business – whether you own the company or not. Here are 10 of the best-kept secrets to being successful in any business.
1. A strong network will carry you through
While a networking event might be a good opportunity to meet people, truly strong networks are characterized by strong relationships, not casual acquaintances. Sending the CEO’s administrative assistant flowers on her birthday or helping a business associate move can go far further towards building a successful network than simply pressing the flesh at a swanky event. Think of your network more like those friends you can call to give you a lift to the airport, rather than just people who’s names you can drop at a party.
2. Your personal relationships matter
Much to-do has been made recently about the importance of work-life balance. While true balance may be an impossible task to achieve, just remember that personal relationships are every bit as critical to your business success as your business relationships are. At some point in time, you are going to experience business failure of some kind. It is your personal relationships that will help carry you through those times and help you get back in the saddle again.
3. Strategic marketing never stops being important
A truly strategic marketing plan is critical to the success of any business. Just remember globally recognized brands like Nike, Apple and Coca-Cola still spend the equivalent of a small country’s GDP on marketing. There is a difference, however, between marketing your product or service and having a strategic marketing plan. If it isn’t measurable, then how do you know if it is successful or not?
4. Character counts
Some of the most successful careers in business, entertainment and sports have been completely and utterly derailed by personal scandals. You may not think that cheating on your wife or fudging the numbers on your personal income taxes should really have an impact on your career, but they do. Harvey Weinstein and Bill Cosby should be evidence enough of how even the most powerful legacies can be completely shattered by private actions.
5. Know Thyself
Without understanding who you are, you can’t make the choices that are right for you. Understanding who you are will also help you know what advice to take and what advice is not right for you. For instance, taking networking advice from an extreme extrovert may not work so well for you if you are an introvert. Similarly, you may be at your creative best late at night, so taking the advice of someone who does their best work at 4:00 am may simply make you feel like a complete and utter failure.
6. Keep the team together
When we travel, we like to have our own rooms and our own cars. This is not, however, always great for the team. While people can be annoying and get on each other’s nerves, there is something that happens when people work through their issues to work together. For your next conference or convention, throw the entire team car and keep them all together. Yes, they may have conflict, tension and drama, but they will also be forced to work it out. That working out of differences is exactly what helps them become a stronger team in the end.
7. Embrace lifelong learning
Perhaps one of the most challenging aspects of being successful in any business is the wide range of skills you have to master. People who find themselves stuck in a rut or dead-end job are generally people that thought that once they graduated college, they were done learning. Some of the most successful people in all industries are lifelong learners who devote a significant portion of their everyday lives to learning new skills and keeping up on new advancements in their industry. It’s a safe bet that Tom Brady and Lebron James don’t spend their off-seasons lounging by the pool and getting fat because they’ve already “made it.”
8. Keep up with tech
New technology is being invented every day and some of the most savvy businesspeople are those that are constantly seeking new and creative ways to use it to advance their businesses. For instance, updating your website to display in interactive product page like Ford’s 7 seater SUV can help you attract more consumers, or using 3D printing can even help you develop a new product that may end up being a best seller. Successful people don’t just keep their fingers on the pulse of what’s happening in their own industry, but keep their eyes constantly peeled for new trends in other industries that they can apply to their own.
9. Routine can be your best friend
Most of us have experienced the difficulty and challenge that comes when we “don’t feel like working.” If you look a little closer at these times, you will almost always find they come after some kind of break in your routine. Whether it’s a special lunch with friends, a 3-day weekend or a vacation, any break from your routine can make it difficult to get back “into the swing of things.” While 3-day weekends and vacations are important, the truth is, you will be your most productive if you establish a routine and stick with it.
10. Multi-tasking is a myth
Not all big trends turn out to actually be factual. The truth is, your brain cannot actually focus on several things at once. In fact, when it pulls something to the front, it pushes something else to the back and you actually lose momentum in this switch. To truly be productive, you have to minimize distractions and create a space where you can devote your full attention to one thing or project for an extended period of time.
It is often said that some of the most successful names in business have the “Midas touch” and can make a success of anything they put their hand to. While this is generally true, it isn’t magic. Instead, it is simply a matter of mastering some basic concepts that can be applied to any area of your life.