Success Secrets of Small Business Entrepreneurs – 10 Tips For Business Success

Owning and operating your own business can be a liberating and exciting opportunity. Creating your own success and mapping out your future on your own terms is empowering. At the same time leaving the comfort of employment including regular working hours, benefits, and a consistent salary can often be discomforting, if not downright scary. For most entrepreneurs the desire to be independent and create your own life outweighs all apprehensions, but still comes with associated risks.

While there may not be a bullet-proof success formula that works consistently for every business, there are common characteristics that unite all successful entrepreneurs. Continue reading to determine how many of these skills and characteristics you have mastered as well as where you may want to focus on improving.

1. Positive outlook on life and success. Successful entrepreneurs tend to be optimistic, upbeat, and look to the future as an opportunity still awaiting. Big dreams are a common theme with successful small business owners and often what propels the individual and the business to its ultimate success. In conjunction with the big dream comes the necessity to break it down into smaller visions that can be clearly articulated, monitored, and measured. Many if not all successful entrepreneurs have great imaginations and spend time mentally visualizing success. This includes thinking about specific deals, transactions, and events that will ultimately lead to personal and business success. Clarity of purpose and staying focused on the task at hand are critical to achieving business success. The more realistic the visualizations and dreams the more likely you will be to achieve. Success is ultimately birthed in the imagination and mind and translated through daily actions inspired during those visualizations.

It is widely known you must “see it before you can achieve it.” Though business success ultimately lies in the physical ability to provide a product or service at a profit, the product, service, and ultimately the unique approach to these transactions are all byproducts of mental visualization. If you are an author, visualize your next book signing after your release has gone #1 and you’ve made it to the best-selling list. If you run an auto repair shop, visualize successful interactions with clients in which you deliver exceptional service and value during each transaction. Ultimately you must take whatever niche, product, market, service, and segment you are involved in and visualize how you will succeed at delivering value to the clients you serve while ultimately earning a profit. The most successful entrepreneurs out there visualize the success of the product or service in their mind prior to it being affirmed in the physical marketplace.

2. Passion = Profit. Personal passion is a prerequisite for any successful business. If you enter a business deal strictly looking to make money or achieve success and aren’t passionate about the business, the people, or the end result, you are severely limiting the potential outcome. Passion ignites enthusiasm in those that surround you; team members, clients, vendors, etc. Profits find passion in business regardless of the market segment. Passionate about auto recycling? As strange as it may seem other people are too. Embrace your passion and look for ways to share your excitement and knowledge about a specific product or service with others who share a similar interest. Embrace your love for the product or service you deliver and follow the path that ignites passion in your daily life. Passion provides the necessary motivation that ultimately leads business owners down a path towards fulfillment of goals and dreams.

3. Compensate for weakness and focus on your strengths. Most of us have been taught through the traditional school of thought – which unfortunately restricts our ability to succeed. Traditional thinking teaches us to be humble about our strengths and consistently strive to improve our weaknesses. Successful entrepreneurs often turn this mantra upside down. Instead of spending countless hours and energy attempting to develop skills you may never master – focus on what you do best and compensate for the rest. We are all gifted with unique individual talents that are expressed naturally in our day-to-day interactions. You may be good at writing, analysis, speaking, insight, relationships, painting, interacting with kids, animals, etc. We all have inherent traits that come naturally and don’t require long hours of hard work to achieve. That doesn’t mean we don’t improve with practice, but let’s face it, some of us are specifically better at things that others aren’t. Focus on those things that you do best and compensate for the things you don’t. Find team members that are strong where you are weak and vice versa and you will build a synergistic team that supports each other exponentially.

4. Failure is not an option. Successful entrepreneurs understand that failure is not an option and continually look for ways to succeed. Don’t allow failure to be considered at any level in the organization. Focus on success at all times and never let the possibility of failure take root in your mind or business culture. There will always be setbacks and learning lessons throughout any business venture and life, but find the opportunity for growth and success in every dilemma and challenge faced. All negative circumstances can be turned in to a positive and ultimately failure does not ever have to be selected as an option. Any circumstance can be re-framed with a positive twist no matter how bleak the situation may appear.

5. Prepare and execute the plan. Dreaming often comes naturally to entrepreneurs. Detailed planning and execution may not. In order to ensure success at moving from where you are to where you want to be, a detailed plan must be drafted and executed. Utilize the Merlin Method (“begin with the end in mind”) and work backwards from there. For example, if you would like to become the next Donald Trump, start with Donald Trump as the end result. Move back from there and make a list of the traits required to become Donald Trump. What relationships, transactions, business deals, and skills are required to succeed? Which of these do you possess? What items to you need to work on? Assess where you are at, who you are, and ultimately who you need to become to get to where you want to go. Formulate a plan that enables you to move down the path acquiring the skills and building the relationships necessary to ultimately arrive at the end result you are striving for.

6. Be dedicated! Successful entrepreneurs know that a business is similar to a baby in that it will require nurturing, attention, and caring, throughout its entire life. Different stages will require different levels of input and interaction. Make sure you are serious about and able to afford the time required to ensure successful implementation of your business plan. Long hours and hard work are often part of any phase of the business. If you are truly passionate about what you do none of this will really be negative. Remember to schedule time with family and friends, and most importantly for yourself. Though many hours may be spent caring for and nurturing your business, you ultimately are not good to anyone if you burn out before the business succeeds. Be conscious of how you are feeling and the work load you are undertaking. Being dedicated does not mean you are completely consumed by the business. When at work focus and commit to completing the necessary tasks at hand. When scheduled away from work – leave the business alone. Be dedicated to your business, your family and friends, and living a balanced life and you will be more likely to succeed in all areas simultaneously.

7. Build relationships and network. Ultimately it isn’t what you know – but who you know. We have all encountered this motto multiple times during our business careers, and it still rings with truth in every situation. Surround yourself with a competent team, board of directors, advisers, vendors and partners and continually look to network. Ultimately the people you meet during your daily interactions will be the ones that will buy from you, support you in delivering your product or service, or in supporting you personally in your quest for success. Opportunities will present themselves through the people you meet on a daily basis.

In business, you are judged by the company you keep – from your management team, board of directors, and strategic partners. Businesses always need assistance, more so small businesses. Maybe the lady you met in a trade association meeting can help you secure funding, or the gentleman you bumped in to at a conference can provide you with management advise. It is important to form alliances with people who can help you, and whom you can help in return. To succeed in business, you need to possess good networking skills and always be alert to opportunities to expand your contacts.

8. Desire to learn. You do not need to be an MBA degree holder or PhD graduate to succeed in your own business. Actually formal education is often inversely proportional to the amount of success achieved in small business. Curiosity and a desire to learn how to solve real world issues is what propels many business owners to success. Talk to those around you and find out what would best help the greatest number of people in your market and you will have found a winning proposition. It often isn’t about how smart you are in a certain area but more specifically how well you are able to clue in to what other people are telling you and how you can help them solve problems.

9. Keep the faith. The road to success will often contain detours and potential pitfalls. Keep faith in your original dream and vision and ultimately good things will arrive. Realize that one of the biggest factors in determining your future success will be in how you deal with temporary set backs. Stay focused on the ultimate end result and have faith in your ability to succeed. Setbacks are strictly learning lessons that ultimately teach you how to be better at what you are attempting to do. Each setback enables you to pick back up and potentially increase momentum in your business by utilizing the learning lessons from the experience.

10. Practice discipline. Thomas Huxley once said, “Do what you should do, when you should do it, whether you like it or not.” Do what others are unwilling to do and ultimately you will have opportunities that others won’t. Realize that you are on a mission that requires faith, commitment, and discipline. Find those traits and behaviors that support success and practice the discipline required to hone those skills day-to-day.

Ultimately if you possess or are able to master these 10 characteristics shared by successful entrepreneurs you will find yourself to be one of them.

Internet Marketing Tools for Small Businesses

Internet marketing small business techniques are about much more than creating a website and taking it online. You cannot just carefully create a website and expect it to be a success overnight. Creating a successful website requires careful planning and strategic decisions. Without this, your website is almost guaranteed to fail. But this doesn’t mean that you have to give up. With the right planning it is possible to create a website that gathers a great deal of web traffic and leads to successful sales of your products.
Before you worry about marketing strategies, you need to strategically create your website. Begin by thinking of the products you are going to sell or offer on your site. Decide what audience is suited to these products and services, and what you can do to attract these potential customers. You also want to target these customers’ needs in the design of your site.

Don’t just build a website that is based on gimmicks and scams. People may visit your site, but they will quickly leave without making a purchase if they do not trust its legitimacy. Creating a legitimate website that potential customers can trust is the only way to make sure your web traffic leads to purchases on your site. Consumers want to feel like they are buying from a well-established company, and not just some random site on the internet. You want to make your online business seem as legitimate as one with an actual store that you can go to visit.

There are many ways to do this. Provide actual contact information so customers have a way to contact you with questions or concerns. Be upfront about all details of the business, including the payment options, return policies, and shipping costs. Make sure to offer payment methods that are well secured and from trusted companies.

Also consider what it is that you are trying to sell or offer. You have to offer a product that is unique and different from the competitors. If the product isn’t something different, then you should make sure that you at least offer a very competitive price. After you are sure that you have a product that is rock solid and a web site that customers will be willing to shop at, you can begin to implement the internet marketing small business strategies that will lead your business to financial success.

One of the internet marketing small business strategies that has been proven to increase web traffic is search engine optimization. Search engine optimization focuses on incorporating commonly used search terms for your business industry and products into your website. This helps draw customers looking for your product to your site by improving your web site’s ranking with various search engines.

Search engines have a vast influence on the way people navigate through the pages of the internet. It is much easier to type a common phrase into a search engine such as Bing or Google than remember an entire website URL. As a business, you want to research the phrases that people would use to get to a product or site like yours. Incorporating those keywords is a sure fire way to make your site appear higher in search engine results, which will help you draw in more web traffic.

Internet marketing small business strategies, such as SEO optimization, help you to increase the web traffic to your site, but this increased traffic will not lead to sales unless you also have a legitimate website that builds trust with potential customers. Using both of these methods is the best way to guarantee that your site becomes a success.

The Benefits of Social Media for Small Businesses

Social media marketing (SMM) and networking is a new wave of socializing, keeping up with friends, meeting new people, and developing new business contacts, and it all happens online. The networking takes place in the clouds over the Internet and allows people from halfway around the world to be at the same place at the same time.

For example, most people have been exposed to Facebook or Twitter in some way or other. This type of networking brings businesses and consumers together in a way that allows for timely, nearly instant responses and reactions that in the past would have taken days.

The world of today is about the fast flow of information one can put out and receive, and how quickly that can be accomplished and using social medias to network affords this opportunity for businesses big or small.

Everyone knows and recognizes the big brand names like Pepsi, Virgin, or L’Oreal for a number of reasons but the most apparent is that we see them all the time in magazines, billboards, commercials… anywhere they can attach their logo. Why? How? Extremely large budgets. This is not something most small businesses have. Therefore, they have to think smarter – not harder.

This is where the social networks come into play. The main reason is that it is essentially virtually free exposure.

The 2011 Social Media Marketing Industry Report, now in its third year of publication, surveyed more than 3,300 business marketers, of which nearly half were of the category of self-employed or small business. The results showed that during the three years of the report’s existence, using social medias for marketing purposes has gone from a niche idea to ‘we need to get on the bus’ to ‘this is the only marketing one needs.’ Now if I may backtrack slightly, one must understand that the variety of small businesses out there range from freight to personal care to international funding groups, so there’s quite a distance from A to Z. This in turn provides a way for the small businesses not only to generate exposure for their brand but to also stand out to a defined consumer base.

What social media networking and marketing has allowed small businesses to do is to put them out into the market with the “Big Boys” and be competitive on an equal playing field and succeed sometimes simply by tweeting something to the effect of, ‘hey, we are at First and Main…See you there.’

Another key factor to the success of this type of marketing and networking is the amount of time (quality time) spent cultivating an online presence, which can markedly improve brand awareness and organic ranking results. The 2011 Social Media Marketing Industry Report states that 58% of marketers are using social media for six hours or more each week and that an experienced social media user (three years or more of experience) spends upwards of ten hours devoted to social media marketing.

The same report goes on to note that those who spent at a minimum of six hours per week working the social media scene saw double the amount leads versus those who spend five hours or less. While certainly there are circumstances under which less time spent may concede equal or better results, nevertheless a commitment of six hours per week produces far better results.

The main and most important goals of social media networking is to increase the businesses exposure, more importantly increase brand awareness, and also increase web traffic and generate more (high quality) leads and conversions. The benefit of social networking is that it can allow small businesses to carve themselves out a piece of the proverbial action where they may not have been able to do so via traditional marketing methods. This is why it is worth the effort to invest in social media marketing, however small or large the effort one puts forth.

In fact, nearly two out of every three marketers surveyed from the 2011 Report indicated an increase in their search engine placement from their time spent on social marketing, which in this internet world is where all businesses what to be… first page of the search engines, top of the food chain.

Small Business Administration’s Small Business Investment Companies

The Small Business Administration, typically referred to as SBA, is the United States government’s leading agency that is primarily dedicated to offering and providing support to the country’s entrepreneurs and businesses establishments.

The Small Business Administration’s efforts are guided by their mission which is “to maintain and strengthen the nation’s economy by enabling the establishment and viability of small businesses and by assisting in the economic recovery of communities after disasters.”

In keeping with its agency objectives, the SBA has been consistently running the Small Business Investment Companies (SBIC) program.

The Small Business Investment Companies Program revolves around the idea of developing privately operated and managed investment companies which are to be licensed and regulated by the Small Business Administration, so as to provide equity capital, long term loans, and advisory services to small enterprises requiring such services.

Consequently, the established Small Business Investment Companies could then provide financial and management assistance on a constant basis to assist the concern’s of small enterprises matching the program’s eligibility criteria.

The kind of financial aid that will be provided by the established SBIC will concentrate mainly on concerns such as pioneering, innovating strategies like the advancement of new goods, processes and markets.

Any small investment company will be considered qualified to take part in this program as long as they have a private capital of not less than $3,000,000 (for companies who chose not receive leverage from SBA) or $5 million (for companies who chose to receive leverage from SBA); and as long as they have a qualified and capable management staff which could lead to proper business operation.

The SBA, the principal agency funding the SBIC Program, is the United States government’s leading agency that is responsible for the maintenance, strengthening, and protection of nation’s economy. The agency has consistently making this happen by aiding, counseling, assisting and protecting the interests of minority-owned business enterprises and establishments.

The Small Business Investment Companies Program is an essential addition to the all the existing programs of the SBA because the goals and objectives of the program are very much in keeping with their agency’s mission.

Furthermore, the program is also believed to help the agency achieve its objective of truly serving minority-owned business establishments and disadvantaged entrepreneurs.

In the fiscal year 2007, the SBA has recorded an impressive number of 369 investment companies with total capital resources amounting to $18.6 billion.