Data shows that nine out of every 10 businesses fail, despite the founders’ best efforts. What is that secret ingredient of the 10% that succeed? Can best practices truly be learned and applied?
We set out to learn from the entrepreneurs who found business success in today’s world, and here’s what they said about the elements that matter most.
So much work goes into designing products to be the most effective and enjoyable for customers. But if you don’t showcase those products with strong imagery and digital marketing, you may sell yourself short.
“A new eCommerce trend is for brands and retailers to utilize social media for product features and product announcements,” said Shaun Price, Head of Customer Acquisition at MitoQ. “This content is not only shareable but invites engagement with the brand in a customer onboarding step. Engagement between a consumer and brand manipulates the algorithms on the social media platforms and increases the probability of more page reach.”
Countless platforms exist to put the spotlight on your brilliant products, so use them.
Get the Word Out
Brand awareness is a real phenomenon that can’t be ignored, and in the saturated online marketplace, it’s more important than ever.
“Let people know your business is out there,” said Dennis Hegstad, Co-Founder of LiveRecover. “Do cold email outreach but also reach out to friends. At the beginning, I was constantly messaging every one of my friends on Twitter and Instagram. I was also talking in groups and letting people know about our tool. We also heavily relied on Facebook and Instagram ads because we were not in the app store starting out since we were a private Shopify app.”
There is no universal blueprint to boosting brand awareness, so embrace the process of trial-and-error to find your most effective approach.
The Fifth Element
If the process of building a business seems like too much to handle, break it down into bite-sized chunks. Identify the core elements that yield the highest return on investment, then get to work in a systemized fashion.
“Building a successful business starts with passion which eventually turns into an idea and then a business is born,” said Aidan Cole, Co-Founder of HIDE. “The most important elements when building a business include finances, strategy, formation, marketing, and timing. If these five elements are planned out, then you should have the ability to get a business started and off the ground. Having a good strategy may be the most important factor, you want to have a solid plan of action before you jump into a business.”
As you tick the boxes on your business checklist, you’ll find that things come together more quickly and smoothly.
The world can change fast, causing massive disruption in a particular industry or across the entire economy. Execs need to anticipate these shifts and be ready to pivot on a dime.
“You have to be very nimble and very open minded,” said Yelp CEO Jeremey Stoppelman. “Your success is going to be very dependent on how you adapt.”
A business that fails to adapt won’t be around for long. Be prepared.
The Master Plan
Big-picture thinking is vital to business success in early stages, so don’t get too caught up in the minute details at the starting line. Create a plan you can understand and track, then make steady progress each day.
“It really helps to be organized as there are so many different moving parts involved in building a business,” said Mary Berry, Founder and CEO of Cosmos Vita. “Construct a master plan and then execute it. Even if your original plan does not turn out exactly as you had imagined it, it’s still always good to have some kind of schedule or to-do list. You may have to modify it down the road depending on what comes up, but that’s okay. Just knowing that at any moment you can always refer back to a plan with all of your goals and workflows will keep you calm and grounded throughout the exciting yet sometimes hectic process of putting a business together.”
When you’ve got a master plan firing on all cylinders, there is little to fear.
We all have to confront the reality of money at some point on our business journeys. Top entrepreneurs suggest we do this sooner rather than later.
“Lack of cash flow and overestimating future profits can be the death of any enterprise and is often the case for many small businesses,” said John Berry, CEO and Managing Partner at Berry Law. “A business model can provide a trajectory to achieve positive results. But that is all it is, a model. Trial and error determine the accuracy of your projections. If you don’t grasp how much money is coming in and how much is pouring out, you will put your business at risk of falling into severe debt. However, remaining conservative, and using analytics to measure ad spend while scaling accordingly will help you maintain cash flow and lead to success in the long run.”
It’s not the most fun or exciting part of business, but strong financial literacy will be central to your success in any venture.
Talent and intuition will only get you so far when creating a business plan from scratch. You need hard data, facts, and figures to max out your chances of success.
“The most important elements of building a successful business are doing your research ahead of time and having mentors,” said Ben Cook, Jr., Vice President and General Counsel Cook Capital Group and Printed Kicks. “It always helps to have someone to bounce ideas off of and learn from, so you don’t make the same mistakes. It is also a good idea to put things in perspective. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither are businesses. Just remember that some things take more time.”
Every bit of research should add another crucial piece to the puzzle and help move your plan forward – no wasted effort.
Optimize > Expand
Every business owner wants to grow, whether that means adding products to the lineup or just increasing revenue. However, many smart execs recommend perfecting current systems before stepping into new territory.
“Instead of adding a service or product to your company for expansion, you should first consider if you have optimized what you are producing for your consumers so they have the best you can offer,” said Tyler Faux, Co-Founder of Supergreat. “At Supergreat, we offer a user-generated video platform for the beauty community so people can connect to share products, reviews and tips. Since our founding in 2018, we grew our platform by 300% integrating shoppable live-streaming in 2021. Brands featured on our platform have seen their products sell out in seconds, and with higher user retention and signups, we are looking into live videos for the brands for even greater interactivity.”
When you see the results that can come from optimization, you’ll see that growth can be achieved without dramatically altering the business blueprint.
A Helping Hand
The world’s top business owners are not necessarily cut from a different cloth. They need help sometimes, just like anyone else. Outsource if you need to, or at least get some professional advice instead of getting stuck in neutral.
“I have learned over the years how important it is to trust experts,” said Daniel Snow, Founder of The Snow Agency. “Early on, I was trying to do everything internally instead of relying on expert contractors or agencies. Aside from the cost savings and space to grow, the amount of stress and anxiety we would have saved would have been worth it alone. It is also important to work with people you trust. My brother has been my partner, and I’m really appreciative of everything he has done for me.”
There are countless services available to help small businesses grow and thrive, so don’t fall into the trap of trying to “do it all”.
Onto the Next Goal
Society’s high performers are ruthless in their pursuit of goals, but they don’t stop long to rest once the mission is accomplished. There is always another goal waiting around the corner.
“Even when you go after a more ambitious goal, even if you fail to achieve that one, all the side effects that come along the way can be that much more rewarding and significant in their own right,” said Google Co-Founder Sergey Brin.
It’s great to be locked in on an ambitious goal, but always consider what comes next.
Are the people around you fully devoted to the mission of your company? Can you count on them when the going gets tough? Teamwork isn’t just a nice idea – it’s essential to success.
“The most important thing when building a business is having the right team and people,” said Guy Bar, Founder of Hygear. “You are not going to go far without people behind you with the same goals. Have a support system in place and build goals together, that is how you will be successful.”
With great people in your corner, your business will be far more resilient and likely to succeed.
What are the metrics you’ve got your eye on as you build your business up? From marketing and sales to customer support and IT performance, everything counts.
“Have an overall plan,” said Eric Gist, Co-Founder of Awesome OS. “This will help to be successful in the long run. The business plan is a great resource to keep track of everything and keeps you on a timeline.”
By tracking metrics across the board, you get a better sense of when you’re making progress vs. stagnation or backsliding.
Stick with It
We often hear about things like persistence and discipline when talking about business, but how many people can actually say they live and die by these principles? To get to the top, you need to be willing to do whatever it takes.
“Many entrepreneurs lack support,” said Katie Lyon, Co-Founder of Allegiance Flag Supply. “Cultivating a solid team dynamic is fundamental to operating at an efficient level while producing a great product. Additionally, patience and perseverance are too soft skills necessary to mitigate the highs and lows of running a business. If what you want hasn’t materialized as quickly as you would like, reexamine what it is you can do better to improve the situation while remaining patient in the process. Running a business is a long-term game. By staying goal-orientated, focused, and following through, you can reap the benefits of hard work.”
Think about how many entrepreneurs came back from the brink of failure to make their fortunes – nothing is impossible.
On a practical level, a new business needs to offer something unique to the public, and position itself as an attractive alternative to the status quo. How is your business being set apart from the pack, and is it working?
“Emjay is the leader in the cannabis market in LA because we sell a variety of flower products with different THC levels for the people who like to smoke weed, but our online retail store also offers the same innovative cannabis and CBD products to be delivered,” said Chris Vaughn, CEO of Emjay. “We have something for everyone to enjoy. Even in niche markets there is competition, and we are different from our competitors because we don’t charge delivery fees. We don’t believe in upselling; our retail and delivery prices are the same for our customers.”
The elements of business success are many, but we’ve tapped into the key concepts you need to get started and gain some traction. With thousands of profitable new businesses starting each year, there’s no reason why your company can’t be the next success story.