• Ellard Thomas, MBA

Staying in the Black: 7 Practices of Highly Successful Small Business Owners

Updated: Jan 11, 2020

If you're a small business owner, with the dream to reach "your next level" in business, you must do things differently to secure your place at the top.

Although economic changes seem to occur, almost in an instant, successful small business owners know something that others do not. Sound business fundamentals are constant, and if you understand the fundamentals, then success is guaranteed.

As a small business owner, you already have much of what it takes to ensure operational continuity well into the future. Those management traits, such as tenacity, commitment and vision are already a part of you.

However, I want to go over a couple other factors that will help you join the ranks of other successful business owners.

7 Steps to Small Business Success

After being an entrepreneur for nearly two decades, I learned a lot about business as well as about myself. Starting off, all I had was an idea and excitement. Then, following several run-ins with defeat, I learned there are other steps that are required to be successful in business.

1. Have a written business plan: With a plan, your business is pretty much busy work. It'll keep you busy and frustrated because there's nothing centralizing your attention and actions.

If you're not familiar with business planning or strategy development, here's what's included: a few pages outlining specific objectives, strategies, financing, a sales and marketing plan, and a method by which you'll attain operating capital (cash).

2. Make your plan flexible: You should marry someone you love, not your plan.

A plan is a guidepost towards a specific goal. Sometimes the initial plan is a little off. Don't fret! Make the adjustments as they come and get back to it.

Remember, successful business owners are known for tweaking their plans before they've achieved their positions.

3. Get that ego in check and perk up those ears: In discussion with a small business owner, who had grown his company from $15K a year, on a shoe-string budget, to a $10M powerhouse, I asked how was this so.

"I listened to people who were where I wanted to be, you know, the successfuls..."

Advisers are crucial to your success because you need people who've already traveled the path you're on. These individuals are great to bounce ideas off of, or even be challenged by.

For some small business owners, this is difficult, because they take all feedback as personal attacks. This isn't the case. And sadly, those who fail to understand this, will never be a successful business owner, ever.

4. Track your progress and learn from mishaps: Your job as a business owner is to run the business; don't let it run you. Successful small business owners leverage systems: finance, marketing, communications, sales, etc.

Whereas many of today's business owners spend much of their time on administrative tasks, they become too tired to build their businesses.

5. Delegate and spread the load: Ah, this is very difficult for both budding and veteran entrepreneurs. Our business is 'our baby' and we don't want anyone else to get the glory for the hard work it took to bring it from dream to realization.

Well, I hope you don't think this way. If you do, you'll hit burnout really soon.

This reminds me about the great Moses...

Responsible for a million or so people, Moses attempted to address everyone's need individually. Over the course of time, he became too tired to focus on the mission of leading.

His father-in-law, Jethro, witnesses his fatigue and advises him to appoint people he trusted to oversee the "little" things and everything else could be escalated to him.

Moses, although a great leader, listened and implemented the advice.

Your job is to surround yourself with people, vendors or contractors that you can trust to handle the little things. This will free you up to handle the big things, like, closing deals and building relationships.

6. Build strategic partnerships: Most successful business owners started out as one or two-person establishments. While operating under budgetary constraints, they learned the power of partnerships.

If you don't have employees to handle many of the tasks, it's time to start building strategic partnerships and alliances. These are individuals or firms that want to see you succeed, and will help you, if you're agree to help them.

Most strategic partnerships are created via agreements of mutual benefit. From a marketing perspective, for example, we are the strategic partner for many successful small businesses.

7. Aim to dominate; not compete: Competition is an illusion. Too often I see small business owners measuring their success by the success or failure of others. This shouldn't be your focus.

For over twenty years, I have had the honor and pleasure to help budding and veteran entrepreneurs with turning their companies into thriving businesses. It truly was a partnership. They brought the fortitude, the willingness to learn and the fearlessness to execute plans we created. I brought the "how" they needed to succeed.

If you have the desire to walk the path of today's most successful small business owners, you may contact us or visit us to learn the best method to driving more business to your company.

We're here to help build your business. Besides, you did not spend your resources and energy to build your dream, only to watch it struggle.

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