How to be a Successful Small Business Owner

Taking the first steps toward turning your passion into a profession can be both liberating and terrifying. How do you know this new venture will be successful? What steps can you take to ensure it will be? There will be many questions to answer along the way, but you can take comfort in knowing that there will always be something unique about your business that no competitor will be able to replicate.

Be You

What you value should be reflected in your business operations. It should be evident in your product or service and in the interactions your employees have with customers or clients. This will be the foundation to your success.

On top of that foundation, you'll need a solid business plan and veritable proof that your idea is marketable. What's the regimen to success? It's a never-ending cycle of researching, testing, soliciting feedback and revising — each one as integral as the next. Too many small businesses fail because they don't give each of these the time and attention they deserve.

Take a step back and ask yourself, "Does the overarching idea for my business address a real problem that's specific to my market? Am I actively seeking feedback on all facets of my business? Am I seeing tangible and positive changes come from my business decisions?" Make sure all the cogs are in place before you start to spin the wheel.

Knowing your finances will also be a crucial part of your success. Make sure you have the basics — a cash flow analysis, a breakeven analysis and a profit and loss statement — these will help you forecast revenues and adjust business strategies accordingly.

Start Small

Many small businesses fail by getting too eager and spreading themselves too thin. Learn from their mistakes and don't get ahead of yourself. Running a new business can bring about a lot of unforeseen expenses. Starting small will put you in a better position to pay off bills, taxes and loans on time. Additionally, open your business with as much of your own money as you can. A lot of new businesses don't turn a profit for many months, so this is an easy way to avoid being up to your neck in loan debt.

Of course, playing it safe isn't typically in the DNA of a small business owner. Taking risks is inherent to success, and smart business owners know which ones they can afford to take. If your business operates primarily online, is service-based, is run from home or already has an established emergency fund, you're in a better position to take on more risk. Just be sure to have a plan in place in case something doesn't work out.

Give Potential Customers a Reason to Come to You Instead of Your Competitor

Lastly, take the things that are working for you and run with them. Slow down on that next exciting idea and turn your focus to the things that have proven to be successful. Build up a solid customer base first, and then begin to slowly introduce your new ideas to them.

When you're as honest with your customers as you are with yourself, you set yourself up for success. Establish a genuine trust through honest business practices, great customer service and a stellar product, and you'll soon have a thriving customer base that will do the majority of your marketing for you.