We all know statistically more than 80% of businesses fail to reach their 10 year anniversary. So as a woman who has hit double digits, here's my TOP 10 TIPS TO SUCCESS.
1. Learn. I cannot emphasise this enough. Learn everything you can, from attending workshops, training days, reading books, magazines, text books and even information on the net. Be sure to range your material so that your knowledge varies, not just the specific industry you are in, but also human resources, sales, marketing, management, IT and finance.
2. Believe. Trust you can succeed and believe in yourself. You will always have negative people who say you can't. Listen to their reasons, but unless it's an industry professional advising you that the business you are considering is unsuitable, because perhaps it's extremely over-priced, then have faith in yourself. If you don't believe in yourself and your business, then yes, you will quit or you will fail.
3. Goals. Set your future goals. Not just for five years, but short term also. What do you want to achieve in the next 90 days? What about the next 12 months? And of course longer term -- being five to ten years. Write this down! Have it on paper AND then write down how you plan to achieve that goal. I have included in my goal sheet both business and personal goals, laminated and popped it behind the toilet door. I see my goals everyday, read how I will get there, and then am re-focused and have clarity every day.
4. People in your life. Surround yourself with experts and positive people. As much as you try to learn, there are just some things you can't do. It might be legal or is it really worth learning to be a web page designer? Know what you do well, and then surround yourself with people who are better than you in areas that are not your forte. And as important, surround yourself with positive people ... people who are successful, motivated, happy, upbeat and optimistic. It does rub off.
5. Selling. For me, learning that "sell" is not a dirty word made a huge difference. I realised (as someone in the service industry) that I wasn't selling my services, I was educating people as to their options. I was helping people make a choice to choose my service, which I knew would benefit them. Lose the image of the used car salesman trying to offload the lemon ... and you'll discover how good you are at sales, especially if you are passionate about what you do.
6. Growth. Control your growth. I've seen other businesses grow too quickly, the owner loses track of what's happening (both from an operations perspective, but also financially), and then five years later they are struggling to be in operation. Gradual growth (like gradual weight loss) is the most effective and often the growth which doesn't diminish at time of challenge, such as the GFC.
7. Give is Gain. Adopt this concept, where you try to help people, give them business leads and you will find that you will start receiving. I truly believe the philosophy of "what goes around, comes around". Try to rip off people, do the wrong thing, and guess what, the benefits will be short lived and pretty soon good won't be coming your way. Do the right thing (sleep at night) and the benefits will (soon or later) come your way.
8. Be a Woman. Whilst many industries are still "a man's world" and it's true, whether you want to believe it or not, as a woman, my advice, is don't try to be a man or play the man's game. Being a woman has its differences and benefits, so use them. Play your game, in your way, and accept who you are. I advise clients I don't do evening appointments or training, because I have a family -- people accept that, I don't believe they think any less of me for wanting to be not only a successful business owner, but also a great mum.
9. Be Thankful. Be thankful for what you have. Be sure to be thankful to your team (staff) and those who give you business. Thank your suppliers for great service. Thank your clients for paying promptly. Seriously, how hard is it to give someone a little praise, write a recommendation, send a card or write a quick email. Remember how nice it is to receive a thank you or pat on the back.
10. Stop and Smell the Roses. Too often (and I've been guilty) we are too disciplined and driven in our businesses we forget about ourselves. We work a 90 hour week, push ourselves to the limit and forget why we went into business. Maybe you wanted to "have a life" or have financial independence, or better working hours. Then remember this, and remember to look after yourself and schedule yourself "me time" and family time to have that work-life balance.
To every woman out there who wants to be successfully in business after 10 years -- I wish you every success.
Donna Stone is the founder of Stone Consulting, and has over 25 years experience, 15 staff and hundreds of clients. Her 10 year old multi award winning Consultancy & Bookkeeping business uses MYOB & QuickBooks. She is the author of 'Stepping Stones to Business Success'. Learn more at www.stoneconsulting.com.au.