Sadly, 25% of businesses fail within their first year and an astonishing 70% of businesses fail within ten years. So, if you’re thinking about starting a business or you’ve recently made the leap, how can you optimize your chances of success? What is the single most important factor in determining your success? I asked this question of 10 successful business leaders from the Young Entrepreneur Council, and their answers are below, followed by mine:
1. Build A Strong Leadership Team
We used to invest in technology. Then it was marketing. Then we woke up and realized it was all about the people. Bringing in the best, seasoned, Director/VP-level talent over the past 18 months has really helped the owners bring the company’s goals back in focus. Do your systems, workflow and technology always need to be evolving? You bet. But at a certain point in company’s growth, you will NEED an experienced leader helping you architect those things if you want to go to the next level. – Andrew Loos, Attack
2. Have A Great Mindset
Your mindset drives so much in business: the risks you take, opportunities you pursue, challenges to tackle, confidence level and vision. The great thing is that even if you have doubts and fears now, your mindset can change and grow with you as an entrepreneur. The things that once terrified me are now easy to manage and I understand much better why entrepreneurship is an excellent avenue for personal growth and development! – Kelly Azevedo, She’s Got Systems
At Star Toilet Paper, we have a deep-seated yearning to change the world and that is what we are doing and will continue to do. Each and every week, we have a weekly email that we sign off with, “Let’s change the world and disrupt the status quo.” Having an internal team slogan like that really helps bring out the best in us and continues to fuel our passion. – Bryan Silverman, Star Toilet Paper
5. Create Value
Purchase decisions almost always come down to value — customers must realize a benefit from working with your business. That can mean a multitude of things, such as cost savings, convenience, reliability, increased quality, etc. Effectively providing value is integral to the long-term success of your company; not only does it assist in retaining your current customers, but also provides the highest-quality referrals you can ask for when attempting to gain new business. – Charles Bogoian,Kenai Sports, LLC
6. Work With Clients Who Share Your Beliefs
It’s so tempting early on to chase after every interesting idea and business opportunity. Learning to say “no” or at least “not yet” is paramount to every entrepreneur’s success. Focus on what’s most important. Your customers and investors will thank you for it eventually. – Ryan Buckley, Scripted, Inc.
8. Serve Your Customers
By providing your product or service in a fast, convenient, and friendly way, you’ll establish your business as one built for the long term. Any unsatisfied customers should be compensated to ensure they’ll still consider you for future business. Happy customers are everything. – Andrew Schrage, Money Crashers Personal Finance
9. Remain Unsatisfied
I am famous internally for saying “we’re almost there” when referring to the business. The truth is that “there” is a constantly moving goal post. As a team, we have a positive but relentless and never-satisfied attitude, which in turn results in our company always pushing for better and never being complacent. – Lauren Friese, TalentEgg
10. Hire the Right People
I was telling my team just last week that regardless of how much we market or sell, if we don’t create good products (in our case, websites), then we can’t progress. It’s people who create those sites, so hiring the best developers (or widget makers, or whoever makes your business succeed) is vital to keeping the engine of your business running. – Hassan Bawab, Magic Logix
These are the single most important things a leader must do to succeed in business according to ten successful young entrepreneurs. But wait – there are 10 different factors listed above! So which, in fact, is most important?
My answer to this question:
Focus is the single most important factor in determining your success as a business leader.
Focus means understanding what your priorities are in any given hour, day, month, quarter or year. Focus means knowing what’s most important – product, service, hiring, fundraising, sales or innovation, and then concentrating on that one thing. Focus means knowing what’s not as important in any given time period. Without focus, it’s easy to wander – it’s easy to become reactive instead of proactive – it’s easy to fail. With focus and determination, you and your team will understand what’s most important, and help you execute – to success. So that unlike that 70%, you can beat the odds and maintain a successful business over time.
Now it’s your turn. How important do you think focus is for leaders in determining business success? How important do you think the other factors listed above are? What do YOU think is the single most important factor in determining whether a business succeeds or fails? Let me know in the Comments section below, please share this post with your network, and here’s to your success!