Do you want to be successful in business?

Thousands of books, websites, and experts line up to tell you their views of what makes a business successful. Many of them will tell you that they are the only information you require. I beg to differ.

Certainly there are some basic steps to adhere to that are common to all successful businesses. Beyond them though, you’ll need to investigate much more detailed information for your specific kind of business. You can appreciate the major differences between a small home-based on-line business and a mega manufacturing venture.

A brief online search for ‘What makes a business successful’ will produce – on google alone – 589,000,000 results. There is no shortage of business advice. Advice for small businesses and large, startups and established companies is all around. You can read about starting a business, marketing and differentiation – 3 tips. 9 ways, 7 habits or strategies, 10 rules. All are valuable and all provide pieces of the pie – the business pie – but perhaps not your particular filling.

So let’s look at some of the most common advice you can find on what makes a business successful.

What is your driving force?

Some call it passion, others intense interest, still others purpose or belief. Be sure of your vision, know your values and recognize your strengths. Believe in your product or service and know it is the best value for your customers. You can only sell what you believe in. Believe in yourself.

In a way everything in business starts with a driving force. What is telling you that you must start a business? What is pushing you to quit your job to start a business? This requires a lot of honesty and reflection. Identifying your driving force must happen before you decide on your product or service or the market you want to go after.

How is your product or service better than any others?

Ask yourself this question repeatedly. You need to be able to confidently answer this question when talking with customers, staff and investors – while training staff and networking in your business community. Most companies are poorly differentiated. They pretty much offer the same service most other for about the same amount of money as most others. Most business compete on price for this reason. It is also true that most of them will tell you that they don’t compete on price, but when you dig deeper you’ll find that they are.

Are you adaptable, creative, and comfortable with change?

Can you confidently maintain your vision and core values while at the same time embracing flexibility around product lines and service delivery? Be aware that you will need to think on your feet and adapt to changes quickly. Not only that, you will often need to be the change. Product lines and production numbers will need to shift with demand and customer feedback. Certainly you will want to maintain your values and stick to your original vision and goals; but pay attention to the vagaries of the world around you and flex and adapt as you need to in order to keep your products fresh and in demand. Do not rest on your laurels. Always look at ways you can improve your product.

Are you prepared to maintain the control of your business even when offered money?

An interesting question as you imagine your eyes lighting up at the thought of someone wanting to invest in your dream. Before you leap though, know this . . . smart business owners usually stress the necessity of maintaining control in order to drive the consistent vision and values of your business. What does that mean for you? Certainly you can consider the impact of investors on your cash flow while at the same time insisting on maintaining production and operational controls. More than anything, successful business owners pay attention and carefully weigh the factors that may be associated with the addition of external dollars. Best of all, successful business owners build their business as though it will always be theirs. They plan and proceed with those thoughts in mind building a solid brand along the way.

Do you have the patience to succeed?

Patience truly is a virtue where small business startup and initial growth are concerned. Plan carefully and keep your overhead low. Be aware that, even with detailed plans and a carefully pared down budget, everything will probably take twice as long as you thought it would and may cost twice as much. Try to build a contingency fund as early as possible – both money and energy will always be in high demand.

Have you established a healthy work/life balance?

How do you ensure that you are taking care of yourself? You will not have the energy you need to successfully build your business unless you consistently take care of you and your energy level. Make sure that you eat well and sleep enough – take the time for breaks, water, meals, family and sound sleep. “All work and no play . . . “makes for exhaustion and frustration initially followed by boredom and depression. Round out your life to ensure that you have plenty of energy and good health to achieve your goals and enjoy your business.

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George Meszaros is the editor and co-founder of Success Harbor where entrepreneurs learn about building successful companies. Success Harbor is dedicated to document the entrepreneurial journey through interviews, original research, and unique content. George Meszaros is also co-founder of Webene, a web design and digital marketing agency.