Ten Secrets of Small Business Success


1. Recently, three business owners identified their “top ten secrets to small business success.” See if what they say fits you and your business. 1. Enjoy your business. Three tips are essential to avoiding burnout:

  • Remember that small businesses are not eight-to-five jobs.
  • Separate family from business.
  • Nurture your relationships along with your business. For owners of failing small businesses, the divorce rate is five times higher than the national average.

2. Manage your time. Here are the top three planning strategies that will help in to balancing job tasks with community and extra-curricular activities:

  • Set aside time each day for planning,
  • Focus on the $10,000 decision rather than the $10 decision. ° Delegate tasks to employees.

3. Give back to your community. Contributing to your local community stimulates good public relations and a positive relationship with the local community. 4. Have goals and prioritize them. For a small business to be successful, management must have goals with the following characteristics:

  • Specific and timed: An example, increase sales by 10 percent in the next fiscal year.
  • Measurable: Comparing this year’s sales to last year’s sales is a good measuring tool.
  • Attainable: the ability to see the results of your goals while working to achieve them.
  • Rewarding: if the goal is not rewarding to the owners or employees, then there is no incentive to reach it.
  • Written down: Goals that are written down are achieved nine times faster than those that are not .

5. Purposely overestimate, to allow for the ripple effect. Allow for unexpected expenses by purposely overestimating time and capital needs by about 25 percent.

6. Manage your growth. Growth is the number one cause of failure in the small business world. However, if managed appropriately, growth is healthy and important.. As mentioned in this column a few weeks ago, entrepreneurs often make the mistake of working in their businesses, rather than on them.

7. Give away product, but sell service. In today’s society, it is the entrepreneur’s job to “sell their service and give away their product.” This philosophy can be accomplished with honesty and by “going the extra mile.”

8. Beware of killer toys and side-show ventures. Growth can cause failure in several ways. The most obvious is over expansion. During periods of rapid growth and increasing profits, “killer toys” (for instance, owning a race car or race horse) and “side show ventures” (such as an expensive hobby or another business) become very appealing. Don’t let a short-run windfall in profit or cash flow be your undoing.

9. Praise in public, correct in private. Try the following:

  • Always look for an opportunity to praise an employee in public, but always correct him or her in private.
  • Look for employees who show up for work on time, follow directions, and work well with people.

10. Don’t ignore networking. Networking with other owners and having a professional team are essential to the continuing success of a business. Using fellow business people as contacts helps a manager to stay abreast of industry happenings and changes. A professional team composed of the banker, lawyer, insurance agent, and accountant is crucial to the continued profitability of your business.

Timothy Hill, Ph.D. is associate professor of business at Central Oregon Community College. He can be reached at 383-7714.


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