Every business has its own story — but successful companies have a few things in common.
Typically, successful businesses have certain qualities that make their business model more effective than most. These qualities allow them to rise above the competition and serve more customers than other businesses can.
These are some of the most important qualities for a business to have. Focusing on them can help any entrepreneur build a successful business model.
1. A Business Plan
To start, every business needs a clear vision — where you want to take your business and how you think you can get there.
To back up this vision, you’ll need to develop a business plan, which describes actionable goals and measures that will help you realize your business vision.
This plan should be made up of short-, middle- and long-term goals. At the very least, you should have the next 12 months planned out — including the ad campaigns, events and strategies you want to try during that time period.
Writing down this plan will help you catch blind spots and reevaluate any assumptions that you’ve made.
A well-written plan can also help you attract talent and apply for funding. Some grant programs require that you have a plan — but in any case, it can make your business seem like a much better candidate. Potential employees and business partners may also be more interested in working with you if you can show where your business is going and that you’ve thought about how you can get there.
No matter what you’re trying to sell, your niche or your target audience, you need to market your business.
What makes marketing effective can vary significantly depending on your business and the market you’re in. Starting with a marketing strategy, however, will always be a good plan. In the same way that a business plan helps you catch assumptions, planning your marketing strategy helps to uncover errors in your plan that you may otherwise overlook.
Marketing segmentation is typically also important. By breaking down your audience into segments based on common interests, needs, demographics and other categories, you can get a better sense of how to effectively market to all of your customers.
Because not every customer will respond to a marketing campaign in the same way, this will help you communicate effectively — even if your audience is very diverse in terms of pain points or interests.
3. Focus on Business Strengths
Businesses, and especially small businesses, can’t do everything on their own. Even if they can stretch resources to manage most tasks, they may find that they’re spending a lot of time on things they don’t have the knowledge base or technology for.
Knowing when to outsource work on tasks like packaging, marketing and customer service will help you focus on your team’s true strengths.
Start by identifying what you’re good at — the areas that you think you and your team have locked down. Then, pick out the areas that you need help with and find organizations that can help. Most businesses can benefit from accounting services, for example, but some will want to keep this work in-house, because the owner or employees have strong accounting skills.
Focusing on your strengths like this will help you optimize your use of time, money and employee skills.
4. People and Management Skills
Even if you’re a solopreneur, your business can’t accomplish anything without people.
A good business owner always knows their business’s current situation, its objectives, long-term goals and how they plan to achieve them. They also know their industry well, and what kind of customers they’re trying to attract.
For small businesses, good people skills means knowing both how to work with customers and effectively manage employees.
For people management, you want to know how to give feedback, and also how to receive it. Employees don’t have the same big-picture knowledge of the business that you do, but they’re closer to employees and the products you sell. They’re also directly involved in business processes in ways that you may not be.
Creating a company culture where two-way communication is possible will help you pass on valuable feedback to your employees while learning more about how your business is working.
You may also be able to catch simmering issues before they become real problems. Burnout, conflict between employees and communication breakdowns can all cause serious long-term problems, but are typically possible to resolve if caught early.
Good people skills can also help business owners to create a customer-centric business plan. Over time, they adapt their business’s culture and processes to focus on customer needs and experience.
This information also helps owners to manage their team and explain why certain tasks are essential.
5. Work-Life Balance
Knowing how to manage your team can help you manage your own life, as well. Business owners sometimes struggle with maintaining their work-life balance. Especially when a business is new, they may throw themselves into work, spending long hours away from home and family.
This strategy can make you feel like you’re working hard and making real progress — but it can quickly lead to burnout. Being able to recognize when employees are struggling or, working harder rather than smarter, can help you identify these patterns in your own work. With this knowledge, you may be able to find more opportunities to disconnect and recharge.
Building a Successful Business Model
Successful business owners typically have a few things in common. A written business and marketing plan, for example, helps them to set goals and weed out bad assumptions. Outsourcing work and good people skills will help them to build a strong business team and focus on what they’re really good at.
About the Author:
Eleanor Hecks is editor-in-chief at Designerly Magazine. Eleanor was the creative director and occasional blog writer at a prominent digital marketing agency before becoming her own boss in 2018. She lives in Philadelphia with her husband and dog, Bear.