“Sow an act, and you reap a habit.
Charles Reade (1814-1884)
Sow a habit, and you reap a character.”
The rapidly changing environment of the commercial world today challenges many business owners. For those of us who have been around for more than a few decades, the rules a successful business operates by today are very different from those of 20 to 30 years ago. Innovations in technology have dramatically reduced response times and increased customer expectations of services and products. Trying to hold a “competitive advantage” for most business owners is a serious struggle. Statistically, recent data shows that, across sectors, 66% of new establishments were still in existence 2 years after their birth, and 44% were still in existence 4 years after. It is not surprising that so many new establishments disappeared within the first 2 years after their opening, and then only a smaller percentage disappeared in the subsequent 2 years. These survival rates do not vary much by industry. Yet, the desire to be your own boss compels us to start a new business or remain in an existing business.
The real question is: What sets a successful business apart from an unsuccessful business? There are a number of studies, articles, and talking heads giving opinions on this subject. Many of their ideas are very good, and some are highly useful. As Golden Mailer has been successfully in business for over 30 years, we thought it would be useful to share some of the business practices we believe have been critical in building and sustaining our company.
Here are nine habits, we have incorporated into our business model that have proven very beneficial in achieving a level of sustainability in a very competitive market place:
- Know Your Market & What Your Customer Wants
- Develop a Mission Statement and Business Plan
- Create a Repeatable, Scalable Business Organization
- Develop a Culture of Discipline
- Be Professional
- Be Consistent and Follow Trough
- Stay on Top of Profits and Cash Flow
- Keep Your Employees Involved
- Adapt to Changes
The following is a brief discussion of “habit” Number 1.
Know Your Market & What Your Customers Want
Too often, businesses are started for the wrong reason. If you think starting a business will make you rich, or give you more time with your family, or that you no longer will have to answer to anyone, then you are probably not going to succeed! However, if you have studied the local market and have identified a need for your specific service or product that is either not offered or poorly supplied by your competition, you may have a chance of succeeding.
This is just the first step in building a successful business, but it is the corner stone of any venture, because at the heart of every business is the delivery of a service or product that your customer wants to purchase. So, the amount of time and energy you dedicate to understanding your local market and how to provide what your community wants will better position your business. A few key elements of this effort should include a thorough analysis of your experience in the area of your business, the availability of operating capital to sustain you during the start-up and early operating phases of your business, the location of your business (or the range of your service area), the amount of inventory required to start-up and continue operation, appropriate pricing levels of your products or services, and, of course, know as much as you can about your competition.
None of this is to put you off starting your venture or continuing an existing, struggling business, but it should alert you to the potential difficulties you will certainly face as you develop and start your business. Understanding the obstacles you will face will better prepare you. Success can be yours if you patiently persevere, work hard, and follow the necessary steps to achieve your objective.
The challenges you will face in your business will typically evolve around meeting customer needs and the market environment. Seeking solutions, which satisfies your customers, is a habit that will lead to a better destiny than you had originally dreamed possible.
- How long have you been in business?
- What are some of your habits for success?
- What types of hurdles did you have to overcome when starting your business?
We would love to hear your feedback and responses to the questions posed above; check back soon for further discussion of the remaining eight habits!