While there are many exceptions, our research and experience strongly indicate that most of the successful entrepreneurs we know have many if not all of the personal factors we discuss below, and they make effective use of most or all of the business factors.
Has a good work ethic, is a self-starter, is persistent and is decisive. Passion is a decided plus.
Has a solid education and has experience in the field of business.
Has management experience and ability.
Has the ability to ask, listen and accept input of others - humility.
Has time management skills with bias for action; avoids striving for perfection.
Uses and builds on his or her strengths and the strengths of the staff, and recognizes and rewards results - magnanimity.
Negotiates. Expects a good deal from suppliers and service providers and anticipates several unplanned expenses.
Looks at every business decision through the eyes of customers. Keeps commitments. Makes it right regardless of the cause.
Keeps healthy and has his or her family's support.
For retail businesses, timing and location are critical. Make sure there's some space between you and your closest competitor.
A business must have adequate capital to survive until profitable. Assume you will need one to two years to get to break-even.
Minimize startup expenses. Can you eliminate, lease, rent, delay or subcontract an expenditure? Minimize operating fixed costs.
Have an attorney, banker, accountant, insurance agent and an experienced mentor as a support team. Network with other pros.
Focus on your target customer and how you will promote your products and services. Listen to your customers and determine how you will differentiate from your competitors in this market segment. Use social media to stay in touch with your customers and to promote your business.
Never compete on low price. Focus on performance, specifications, features, reliability, service and delivery. Monitor competition.
Define and measure key business performance indicators and take remedial action as required. Watch the numbers and respond quickly when the revenues go south.
Start with a business plan and update it at least annually. The plan should include goals and a milestone timeline. Your financials should assume revenue will be half and expenses will be double your initial plan. Include a SWOT analysis (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats).
There are no shortcuts to success, so be prepared. Help is available. An hour or two spent with a mentor can make a difference.
C. Norman Beckert, Idaho district director of SCORE, the Service Corps of Retired Executives. firstname.lastname@example.org. This article is based on a presentation given by John Mathews, chairman of Treasure Valley SCORE at the BizExpo event Jan. 19 at the Boise Centre.