Being an entrepreneur is an extremely rewarding career. You get to constantly try new things. Your days are rarely boring. And you can earn a substantial income if things go well.
So, how do ensure success as an entrepreneur? There are no guarantees, but these 3 tips are sure to help.
#1 – Create a Business Plan (and follow it!)
There are numerous studies that prove that having written goals increase your chances of achieving them. Despite this, most entrepreneurs still don’t document their goals.
The best format in which to write your goals is a business plan. Your business plan serves two core purposes. It allows you to write down your short and long-term goals.
And then, it gives you the opportunity to explain how you plan to achieve them.
Creating a business plan and following it is a hallmark of successful entrepreneurs. You can either write your plan yourself or hire a professional business plan writer. Either way, you’ll come out ahead.
Here are three key elements to consider in your business plan:
- Document your goals and milestones. What are the long-term (5 or more years) goals for your business? Depending upon your company, you can state your goals in terms of sales, number of users, etc.
After you express your long-term goals, work backward. That is, identify what your one-year goal should be that would put you on the trajectory to achieving your long-term goal.
Now that you know what your company needs to look like in one year, identify the milestones that you must accomplish during the next 12 months.
For example, how many new clients do you need to secure? How many new employees must you hire and train? How many new products or services must you develop?
Apply dates to each milestone. For example, you can say that by the end of the first quarter of the year, you must hire a VP of Sales.
- Conduct market research. By conducting research on your industry, customers, and competition you’ll come up with ideas and strategies to improve performance.
For example, by better understanding the demographic and psychographic profiles of your target customers, you can better attract them. By understanding the weaknesses of your competitors, you can outmaneuver them.
And by knowing industry trends, you can steer your company in new directions while competitors do nothing and move towards obsolescence.
- Create financial projections. Create financial projections to validate your goals and keep your company on track to achieving them.
For instance, if your goal is to grow sales to $50 million, your financial projections would show just how many units you need to sell, and at what price, to get there. This helps confirm your goals are viable.
Likewise, your financial projections will incorporate growing expenses such as increasing salaries and marketing spends.
Your financial projections help manage your growth and importantly will alert you to outside financing needs if applicable.
#2 – Be Great at Time Management
Once your business plan is complete, you know what must be accomplished and when. Although knowing this puts you ahead of most other entrepreneurs, getting things done is often elusive.
Running a business incurs lots of questions from employees, customers and others. And oftentimes, answering questions and other day-to-day responsibilities prevent you from achieving your long-term milestones. The key to overcoming this challenge is time management.
The best time management technique in this regard is simple: block out time on your calendar each day to work on your annual goals. Even if it’s just one hour per day, that may be enough.
The key is sticking to it and not letting anything interrupt this time. You can’t answer your phone. You can’t check email or social media. And you can’t answer a burning question from an employee or customer at this time.
You simply need to focus those minutes and hours exclusively on attaining your long-term goals.
#3 – Have a Support System (Advisors are Key)
Very few entrepreneurs achieve lasting success without relying on others, particularly people outside of their organizations. Sometimes these outsiders are investors, and sometimes they are friends, colleagues, mentors or board members.
I have seen the most success when entrepreneurs form a board of advisors. Look for advisors who have achieved lasting success. Maybe they are industry executives or successful business owners or entrepreneurs.
The key is that your advisory board collectively will have lots of experiences that you don’t have.
When it comes time to deal with a difficult decision, perhaps about the direction of your company or how to deal with a difficult employee or customer, your advisory board will almost certainly provide quality ideas regarding how to deal with the problem.
Achieving lasting success as an entrepreneur is fulfilling and rewarding. By creating a business plan, focusing on time management, and getting advisors to support you, you will be much more likely to achieve your dreams. So, don’t waste any time and start doing each of these today.