Every small business starts with a dream. Many go on to achieve startling success, while others stumble just getting out of the starting block. What spells the difference between these two? Certainly ability, enthusiasm, and drive play huge roles. And sometimes just a little bit of timing and good luck don’t hurt either. The Hartford insurance company was also interested in these distinctions, and recently released the results of its 2015 Small Business Success Study.
Although 73% of the respondents felt that their small business was successful, a surprising percentage reported that their primary goal was just to maintain, as opposed to grow, their company. When digging down for factors that do contribute to success, the study found that highly successful small business entrepreneurs were more likely to do the following than their not-as-successful colleagues:
• Risk Management: Opening up a small business is a risk-taking adventure. The entrepreneur takes all of the responsibility on his or her shoulders, and gains all the rewards for success. Surprisingly though, a huge percentage of the study participants go against what seems natural for an entrepreneur, and say that they are averse to risk. But 27% of the highly successful adventurers rated their actions as risky. The lesson here is that risk is part of business life. You can study your options thoroughly and prepare for possible outcomes, but be prepared to take risks as needed.
• Getting Help: Being a sole entrepreneur feels like it should be a lonely job, just by its name, but 25% of the successful business owners felt that getting expert guidance was a key to their development. Take advantage of the Small Business Administration, SCORE mentors, business clubs, and local college business classes to hone your business skills. It is extremely helpful to find a mentor who will listen to your ideas, and offer sage advice based on their own experience.
• Borrow Money When Needed: Understandably most small businesses are slow to borrow money, or are even unable to do so. They struggle along on tight budgets, and watch in frustration as their business fails to take off. However, 38% of the most successful entrepreneurs have tapped into funding sources from banks. This is part of a calculated risk, but money invested in people, plant or equipment now could be the key to success.
• Use Social Media: It might seem unusual to see this included in a list of business success factors, but 37% of the entrepreneurs use social media to respond to customer feedback. Customers are changing the way businesses communicate with them. If you are not responsive to their inquiries, they are very likely to quickly move on to the next opportunity. Be online and be social with a purpose. Use Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and other social media opportunities to attract an audience, communicate with customers, engage with prospects, and build your business.
Which of these factors will you use to take your small business to the next level?