Your business may be small, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be mighty. Much has been written about what it takes to become a successful entrepreneur — one article pulled up in a Google search lists 37 “essential” qualities needed for success.
Thirty-seven? That’s a long, unrealistic list. Other articles list 25, 20, 10, or fewer traits of people who achieve success in business. One even touts a single trait every successful entrepreneur must have. After looking through numerous articles, checking out webinars on entrepreneurship, and looking back at our own 100 years in business, we think success comes down to five things. They are:
1. Knowing Your Purpose and Your Target Market
Most people who go into business for themselves are hard-working, dedicated, passionate, and motivated. None of those traits mean anything if you don’t know your company’s purpose and you don’t have the discipline to stick to your plan. If you asked yourself today why you’re in business, would you have a clear answer?
To create a clear vision and lay a solid foundation for success, ask yourself what services you want to provide and who you want to provide them to. “Everything” and “everyone” are easy answers, but they aren’t realistic. No business can be everything to everyone. The key is to find your niche, excel at what you do, build from there, and stay the course while you grow.
What’s your purpose and your vision? If you aren’t clear, let Ewing help. We regularly share our 100 years of expertise through Ewing Education courses and webinars, informative blog articles, and YouTube videos.
2. Hiring so You Can Delegate, Then Doing It
Business owners regularly work on several things at once, but no one can do it all. There aren’t enough hours in the day to work at a jobsite, order supplies, create budgets, put together bids, handle payroll, interview potential employees, market your business, and handle all the other things that are part of running a successful business.
Surround yourself with people who understand your purpose, your values, and your mission, and who are dedicated to upholding them. If you hire people who have those things in common with you and bring different skills to the table, you can build a team that not only wants to have your back, they also can have your back.
If you’re not comfortable approaching new clients to offer services, look for someone who loves to sell, is good at making pitches, and thrives on closing the deal. Are you an expert in what plants are perfect for a client’s yard but not quite sure they how they should be laid out? Tap into your field technician’s flair for design and let them help you create eye-catching landscapes.
Not sure how to market yourself on social media, something that’s critical in the digital age? Put a young crew member or one of your kids to work taking and posting photos and videos of the beautiful work you’re doing at your jobsites. For more ideas on how to get the most out of social media, read Boost Your Brand Without Breaking the Bank on our blog.
With the right people in place, you don’t need a huge team to help your business grow. As you achieve success, can add more talented people, which can lead to more success and more growth.
3. Investing in Yourself
Investing in yourself means more than paying yourself and building a nest egg for your business, though both are important, according to Ramon Ray, an entrepreneur and author who founded Smart Hustle, a company that works with leading brands to help them build relationships with small businesses.
Ray often shares his insights with small business owners in his role as a volunteer mentor with the SCORE Association, a national nonprofit funded in part by the U.S. Small Business Administration that helps businesses get off the ground, grow, and achieve their goals. During his recent webinar, 10 Key Steps to Grow Your Solo Business, Ray talked about ways other than money that businesses should invest in themselves, including:
- Finding a mentor who is willing to share what they’ve learned in business to help you achieve your goals.
- Mentoring or coaching employees who are eager to build their skills, take on new challenges, and move up in your company.
- Educating customers about what you offer and how it can benefit them. Educating customers is best way to make a sale, Ray said.
- Educating yourself and your team, whether it’s reading a book on business, in-house training, attending webinars, or signing up for Continuing Education Classes for certifications like those offered by Ewing.
Ewing has always been big on educating employees and customers. Company leaders understand that education gives people the ability to move forward in their careers, and to make good purchasing decisions.
4. Knowing Your Worth and Setting Your Prices Accordingly
How many times have you heard the phrase, “don’t sell yourself short?” It’s good advice, especially in 2022, when prices are soaring and businesses that don’t raise their prices put themselves in danger of closing.
The key is to set up a realistic pricing structure that factors in the quality of your work, not just the cost of doing business. You provide your clients’ with premium service, and your prices should reflect that. Selling at a premium means being able to grow while investing in your business, paying your employees competitive wages, offering good benefits, and being the company that everyone wants to work with and for.
Check out our New Year, New Budget blog for ideas and resource links, including a free downloadable profit and loss sheet. If you’re not sure how to let clients know your prices are going up, our How to Inform Clients Your Prices are Increasing blog has great tips for successfully navigating those conversations.
5. Not Giving Up When Things Get Tough
All businesses face challenges and failures from time to time. It’s how you handle those challenges and failures that determine your success going forward.
During his webinar, Ray said that surviving challenges comes down to mindset. When problems arise, successful business owners view them as opportunities. Instead of walking away, they steel themselves and look for solutions.
Did a client reject your pitch for a new service? Are you feeling pressure to spend more time with your family? Is there something preventing your client’s irrigation system from working properly no matter what you do?
If you’re like Ray and other entrepreneurs, you shake it off, take a deep breath, and tackle each challenge head on. For example:
- Analyze the pitch that got rejected to see if you left out something that could convince them to accept your proposal for a service that will benefit them. If that’s not an option, consider making the pitch to someone else.
- Look for ways to achieve a better work-life balance, like starting work an hour earlier so you can attend your child’s baseball game or sit down for dinner with the family at a reasonable time.
- Instead of trying to problem-solve on your own when you’ve done everything you can think of, reach out for help. The professionals at your local Ewing branch, can help you troubleshoot things like that tricky irrigation system, or they know someone who can.
Check out Ray’s free webinar and others designed to help your business by visiting SCORE’s live and recorded webinars page. You can also let Ewing Education know what resources you’re looking for on our feedback page.