3 Things Every Business Owner Should Think About

Of the many general business ownership principles, the most fundamental go beyond recognizable core philosophic management tenants to the very heart of the business owner. The first principle of business success is understanding what it takes to succeed in a business. The few top questions you should ask yourself as an entrepreneur may surprise you. Hint: They’re more about how you’re thinking about your business, its future, and your future than about the actions you need to do each day in managing your business.

1. What Else Do I Need to Learn?

What don’t you know about what you need to do to achieve your version of success in your business? What more do you need to learn in order to do everything you need to do to accomplish your goals? What else should I obtain through school or self-education to be as prepared as I need to be for leadership success? What don’t I know about my industry, management, financing, contracting, strategic planning, my target market, the competition, supply chains, etc.? These are all bedrock questions for aspiring entrepreneurs.

It’s quite an understatement to say there are lots of moving parts in business ownership. So, naturally, most entrepreneurs still have a lot left to learn through the early years (and the latter ones too). To get up and stay up to speed, do the basics:

Ask questions and listen carefully to people, any people — friends, family, employees, peers, experts, and anyone else who offers information or an idea.  

Read books, magazines, and reports on everything from the history of your industry, advanced sales, generating capital, employer branding, IT for scaling, etc., etc. Especially, digest stories of small business growth and struggles toward success. Watch Ted Talks, YouTube videos on business risk-taking, financial planning, technology, etc. 

Joining an industry peer group can offer amazing benefits of knowledge and support. Also, join your city’s Chamber of Commerce, local organizations for business owners, civic committees, etc. Meet with your local SBA agent to learn about financial, educational, and networking resources in your area. Ask your customers what they like about your services and what they suggest for further improvement.

2. What Would My Success Look Like to Me?

Each business owner has his or her particular vision of success for his or her own company and personal life. It’s a matter of individual perspective on what a good life is. The proverbial first step of the thousand-mile journey toward your ultimate business success starts with determining the size of your dream. 

Throughout the United States and the world, there are millions of successful small business owners enjoying their lives during and after achieving their kind of success. Their dream may have been for a lively little mom-and-pop store with steady Main Street foot traffic. Or, they may have been driven to make their product or service regional, national, or global. 

For many with either size of dream, the joy may be in the striving. The notion of someday retiring may never occur to them. Their business is their recreation. Others may see their entrepreneurial careers as a means to an end that features toes in the sand on a distant beach or watching the vegetables grow in their backyard garden. 

What do you want in life? A simple, quiet life or a grand entrepreneurial adventure? Use your answer to that self-inquiry to set a course for your business. 

3. How Should I Refine My Strategic Plan?

Countless goals and great ideas are born and die without follow-through. By far, the most effective way to develop and realize an idea is strategic planning. But, what does a good plan look like? An effective strategic plan is realistic about the merits and limits of your product(s) and/or service(s), your operational constraints, your team’s skills and bandwidth, your funding options, the market, the larger economy, your current level of business skills, and other considerations.

Your strategic plan should specify your goals for the next year and the next 3 to 5 years. The plan should provide a guide through the steps you plan to take and the resources you plan to use to reach your ultimate 1-year, 3-year, 5-year goal, etc. It should also provide a plan for obtaining the necessary funding to meet your set benchmarks, and it should feature metrics for tracking your progress in key areas of operational performance. Look at any of the many lists of key performance indicators online to develop your own list of applicable KPIs for your business. 

Of course, you’ll want to apply standard success measures like Sales Closing Rates, Customer Acquisition Costs, Production Cycle Time, etc. But, also be sure to include metrics for average customer experience ratings, employee engagement ratings, process improvement initiatives completed, and other more obscure management performance measures necessary for sustained business success. 

To execute your strategic plan, remember the value of timely decision-making. Face challenging decisions. Weigh the pros and cons. Seek input from trusted others. Then, take the calculated risks you need to take to move forward. 

The Big Picture 

The kind of self-examination recommended here makes personal development the foundation for building your business success. Assign yourself daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly self-development tasks to enable you with the advanced organizational management knowledge and skills you need to become your market’s foremost authority in your field. That should be a primary goal of the leader in every company — whether you’re operating on Main Street, Manhattan, or in the Cloud. The more you know, the greater your potential to realize whatever vision of business success yours may be and to live a fully satisfying life.