9th April 2014

“Determine For Yourselves What You Mean By A Successful Business”

by Joseph Barrell, Nwes Business Support Specialist

In general, the reason for new businesses failure is lack of planning.  The old adage, “Fail to plan, we plan to fail” comes to mind.  In my role as an Nwes Business Trainer I work with people who want to maximise their chances of success.    Recently, when conducting an ‘Introduction to Business Day’, I asked the attendees if they wanted to run successful businesses.  All of them were very clear that they did.  I then asked them to tell me what a successful business is.  The room fell silent.  Nobody could offer up any thoughts or ideas.  This seemed a difficult call for these guys to make, because  the term “success” is a relative one.

Success means different things to different people.  A friend of mine who runs a small window cleaning business with a very modest turnover and profit  tells me he runs a successful business.  My friend will never become the next Lord Sugar, but then again, he doesn’t want to be.  He is happy working for himself, and earning just enough money to pay his personal bills – that’s all he wants, nothing more.  He is content.  Where there is contentment there is success.

Good business planning is enhanced by first of all knowing what you want to achieve from the business.  If say, you want to retire in 20 years’ time, or are hoping to pay a substantial chunk off the mortgage, these are the things that will define what a successful business will be in your eyes.   You will have quantified what you will be working towards.   You will know when you get there, because you will have determined what success will feel like and smell like, to you.    Knowing what you want to achieve personally in starting a business brings confidence and empowerment.

I would compare planning a business to planning a journey.  When we plan a journey we need to know the destination point first.  Knowing that we want to travel to John O’Groats in Scotland enables us to plot or navigate the route we intend to travel to get there. When we do get there we will enjoy a reflective moment relishing in the fact we have made a successful trip.  Knowing our success measure or the destination of the journey makes business planning far easier too. When we do reach the end of the journey we will be able to bask in the joy of the success we pre-determined at the very start.

Journeys to destinations by road  are often made easier by the use of Sat Navs or Route Maps.  For journeys not previously undertaken they are vital to ensure we have a successful trip.  A journey into a successful business needs a guide.  It won’t be a Sat Nav or a Route Map.  Our guide will be a business plan.  The business plan is an essential tool in bringing about success.  For this tool to work effectively, we first of all need to determine for ourselves what we mean by a successful business.  This is key to being able to build a suitable plan setting out what we are going to do to get us there.

So, what does success look like to you

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