The success of any business is dependent upon many factors.  In this short post, I’ve used the acrostic “SUCCESS” to identify 7 basics to start and build a successful business of any type (brick and mortar, home based, network marketing, etc.).

Set up your business the right way. Business structure is important for legal and tax reasons.  Depending on the business type, you could structure your business as a Sole proprietorship, Limited Liability Company, Partnership, S-Corporation, C-Corporation, and Cooperative.  Do your research to determine which structure is best for your company based on business type and potential liabilities.

Chose and register your business name.  Your business name frames your business’ identity so choose wisely.

After you’ve selected a name and registered your business with the appropriate state or local agency, you’ll want to set up a business checking account separate from your personal account.  There are several online banks to choose from, but I like using a local bank that’s close to my home office in order to establish a banking relationship in the event I need a business loan, notary services, etc.

U – UNDERSTAND Your Customer/Client
Understanding your ideal customer/client is of the utmost importance.  The most successful businesses fulfill a need or solve a problem for their customers.  Create an avatar that embodies your ideal client, i.e.  What does your ideal client look like?  Female, married, age 35, 2-3 kids, college educated, household income >$75,000, etc. What is their pain? What are their desires and dreams? What do they buy? What problem do you solve for them? For example, my ideal client fears having inadequate retirement savings, or has the pain of too much debt.  I ease my clients fears and pain by helping them become debt free and financially independent 6-12 years sooner without spending a dime more than what they are already spending.

Being an entrepreneur requires commitment. To be successful, you must commit to personal and business development by making a time and financial investment in your success. I have spent tens of thousands of dollars attending conferences, courses, and workshops to expand my knowledge and to network with like-minded people.  One must also commit to excellence.  Note that I didn’t say perfection.

Customer service seems to be a dying art, but this is where your business can stand out from your competition.  Return phone calls and emails in a timely manner. Make customer complaints a top priority.  Provide excellent service.  Go above and beyond expectations.  With social media, bad reviews can be posted in the blink of an eye and they’ll remain out there forever. Not to mention the referrals you’ll miss out on.

E – Manage your EXPECTATIONS
Expect to do great things from your business and make tons of money, but don’t expect to get rich quick.  It takes an investment of your time, advertising dollars and marketing to attract customers to your business.  Cash flow may not be consistent at first.  Expect that invoices may not be paid on time.  You may not be able to leave your job as early as you first expected.  Keep your job until the business income surpasses your job salary consistently for at least one year or until you’re comfortable that your business is growing with steady income.

There’s such a thing called Money Making Activities.  These are activities that help make you money, i.e. calling leads, delivering product, setting up advertising, recruiting activities, etc.  As a business owner, you’ll need to be strategic about how you schedule your activities if you want to have a life outside of business. Money Making Activities should have priority in your schedule.  As your business grows, you’ll get more and more unsolicited and unwanted emails.  Get into the habit of checking emails and social media inboxes twice per day. For social media, I try to post at least once per day to each of my pages. If you use social media scheduling tools like Hootsuite, you won’t even have to log on to your social media sites to post content. This will keep you from being tempted to log on outside of appointed times.

I check my personal email and social media accounts before bed.

S – Be STRATEGIC about your finances
What you focus on will grow.  Check your cash flow weekly.  Sales are your business’ lifeblood.  Check your sales at least weekly.  Expenses affect your bottom line so monitor your spending (personal and business) weekly, as well.  Do a quarterly review to identify areas to decrease spending or save by changing providers, etc.  Monitor your Profit/Loss Statement monthly.

Running a business can take a lot of time.  I like to say being an entrepreneur is 24/7 because I’m always thinking about how to improve my business or entertaining new business ideas.  But, it doesn’t consume me. Setting up or re-setting your business up the right way will save you lots of time and effort in the long run. These are just a few thoughts to get you off to a good start. After all, the goal of being in business for yourself is not for it to become a weight around your neck that you can never escape.  The ultimate goal is to create a business system that affords you enough time and money to enjoy the lifestyle you desire.

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