1. Success is not about one thing or another; it is about the combination of some 30 key ingredients. If one key ingredient is missing then the whole project will fail. You need to be ready to juggle the many ingredients all the time. They cover the various activities in marketing, production, management, financial. It is also about balance with your personal life. Sustainability is not realized if there is no balance!
2. Make sure there is tangible market demand for what you are offering. Make some tests on the ground before you embark. You should not work with assumptions.
3. You should have real passion for the industry and activity you are embarking on. A lot of energy and perseverance is needed to get a business project off the ground, especially if this is your first time as business owner. Passion is needed as driver. If you do not have the passion then maybe you need to change the project idea, or you should not start at all. Are you ready to go through some tough times to make the breakthrough?
4. You should be very good at what you will be doing, but more importantly you should be the best in your industry and location. Are you? This is only the start!
5. You should seek tangible differentiation in your project, i.e. how are you different from the competition. Why should people come to you? What advantage do you have? This needs a lot of research and creative thinking. It should have many novelty aspects. Do not start a project if you are not positively different from the rest. You have to stand out in the crowd. This is a key factor for success. Differentiation can be in product or service or marketing or combinations etc. Think real hard, do your research homework, and spend enough time with experts and discussions. This can translate into some form of novel specialization.
6. Work hard on developing the business concept, products and in general, and keep revising and perfecting. Talk to experts and consult with them. Drop the first two ideas. The final concept has to be special and very convincing. Make sure the project concept has all the success ingredients.
7. Do you know what you would like to be in some 3 years time? Define your vision. Is it in line with what you starting now?
8. Describe verbally your project and reasons why you will succeed in two minutes. Is it clear in your mind what you are doing and how you will make it work? Are you focused?
9. Make sure you take the right location for a shop, if needed.
10. You should be very versed in marketing strategies. The market is where it all starts and where it all ends.
11. Customer focus is essential: Always give customers more than they expect, and surprise them always. This requires ongoing creative thinking and drive. It is all about the customer.
12. Better no joking with customers, or with other employees. Keep a formality safety distance. Business is business.
13. Conduct thorough research in the market and get the needed information.
14. Make sure you prepare a real business plan for the project, following multiple revisions. A small project does not negate the need for a professional and comprehensive business plan, irrespective of whether financial support is sought or not. A business plan is not rigid, but has to be adjusted to internal and external unexpected changes.
15. Better be conservative in your predictions rather than overzealous. People are usually very excited about a new project and tend to be too optimistic. Revise your figures.
16. Do not forget you will need also a working capital to get off the ground. This covers inventories, credit sales, and fixed costs for a few months, and some contingencies etc.
17. Remember you are an owner and manager now, and should act accordingly. Make sure you know how to run a business and how to market, and how to deal with customers, and how to manage employees, and how to manage accounts etc, through training courses and experience. Do not embark if you do not have the required skills and tools. It is not an easy task. If you have partners, make sure you have a clear agreement about roles and responsibilities.
18. Make sure you have a very good idea about the financial side, costing, pricing etc, and that you can make the distinction between variable and fixed costs, and how to calculate breakeven sales, and how to analyze performance. How do you price each unit? How much can you spend?
19. Produce budgets for everything: Expenditures, income etc. Annual, monthly and weekly.
20. It is much better initially to cut costs, through cheaper items, or outsourcing, and working overtime before recruiting. When the project takes off and stabilizes then one can spend more. But you should not shoot yourself in the foot, by reducing promotion budget too much, since you won’t have any customers.
21. Make sure you are quality oriented and innovative. Competition abound.
22. It is a small project, and you have to focus all your efforts on a specific product or service to make it work. You should not get distracted into many things. Laser focus is very important. This way you secure quality. Better focus on a few products and try and sell to more customers, rather than selling more products to few customers.
23. Focus on priorities, like strategic issues, and do not waste your time on irrelevant activities. Delegate less important activities. You should be spending most of your time dealing with customer, improving your business, coming up with new ideas, improving quality, growth etc.
24. Never rely on one customer and one supplier. This is business suicide. Seek to increase numbers.
25. Before you spend too much on some promotion campaign, better test it on a small scale, or consult with experts. Campaigns cost money and time and you should be confident about their effectiveness.
26. Remember that sales and profits should increase from year to year, and this is not only due to increase in number of customers or capacity, but should also be linked to higher value products, i.e. things you can sell at higher prices. This can be a result of differentiation and distinction.
27. Be generous with customers. If a customer is unhappy then repeat or compensate at your cost. When you give away some gift items or free samples make sure they are good quality or known brands
28. Prices are the last thing that is changed. Better give things for free rather than dropping prices. It is very difficult to raise a price once dropped. Many customers are willing to pay higher prices for better services.
29. There is always some risk that the business will not perform as expected or even fail. When you do your homework well this risk is reduced but not removed. Whatever the outcome, you would have gained a lot of useful experience. Always think success.
30. Whatever action you are taking in your business, operate on a win-win basis. This is a great formula for sustainable success.