5 steps to be successful in business

If your creative small business is floundering, follow these 5 steps to be successful in business and create a growth strategy for business success
If you're an entrepreneur with a creative small business and it is floundering, follow these 5 steps to learn how to be successful in business. 1. Define what business success means to you and define your business goals, 2. Know your numbers, 3. Create your business strategy for growth, 4. Only work on tasks that will grow your business, 5. Monitor your progress. This tips will help you learn what is important for your enterprise.

Ever wondered what it would feel like to be successful in business or do you feel like you’re on a never-ending treadmill with your business?

Is your business running you rather than you running your business? Or do you have so much to do that you don’t know what you should be doing? Do you dream of being successful in business?

Imagine what it’d be like if you could wake up every morning knowing what you need to work on and how you’re going to grow and scale your business. How would that impact your life?

I get it.

I’ve been running single-person businesses in a variety of forms for over 10 years. And would you believe that my most lucrative business was my least enjoyable!. I worked with people who were unmotivated or disillusioned, and that permeated through everything they did. Let me tell you that did not make for a good work environment, and boy did the workday drag.

Although I am earning MUCH less now, my days are full. I work on stuff that motivates me and is beneficial to my business.

Yet, it has taken a few years to get the balance right.

Initially, I felt like I needed to do everything, and there wasn’t a moment where I wasn’t doing or thinking of something to do with the business. So I’d jump from one idea to another, never really assessing its success, just busy being busy. But with no clear plan of where I was going or what I would be doing next.

Now, I have learned that it is crucial to have a vision with a clear path on how you will get there. Of course, the route may alter as you evolve, but having a clear goal will make sure you always stay heading in the right direction to reaching success.

If you’d like help achieving success in your business, here are five steps to creating success.

1. Know what success means to you.

What I mean by this is don’t compare yourself to other people, understand what success truly means to you. What will make you happy? And sometimes, this is not just about money.

I don’t buy that everyone wants to be a millionaire. Because becoming a millionaire is not an easy ride. You have to make sacrifices. And often, that means sacrificing the time you spend with your family or friends.

If what you are after is financial freedom or enough money to cover the luxuries in life or more time to spend with your family, then making sacrifices for a goal that actually is to the detriment of what makes you happy doesn’t make sense. There’s no point working 10 hour days to earn the expected £1m when all you want is to spend more time with your kids.

Therefore, knowing what makes you happy and what you want to achieve means being true to yourself. This is essential so that you don’t set yourself a goal that still leaves you dissatisfied.

It is also vital to know how to recognise when you reach your goal. You need to understand what will be the trigger for you to know you are successful. That could be earning X amount per month or making X and only working 2 days a week. Decide what it is and write it down.

For example, maybe in ten years, you want to be earning £10000 a month. Extrapolate this number back to work out what numbers would be good to achieve in 5 years, 3 years, 1 year, etc. So that you can set realistic goals to ensure you stay on track.

Pick the numbers relevant to you but make a note of them so that you can take the time to celebrate when you hit them.

Obviously, these numbers may change over time as you become more confident or circumstances change, but everyone needs to start somewhere and aim for something.

2. Know your numbers.

Your strategy on how you are going to become successful will always involve looking at the numbers.

Sorry if this suddenly makes it scary for you, but we’re not talking complex calculations here, so no need to panic.

If you know you want to earn £10k per month, you need to know how many sales you need to make to get you that 10k month.

Let me break it down for you.

For instance, you’ve got an Etsy business and are selling hand-knitted jumpers that currently make £100 profit each.

For you to be able to make £10k per month, that means you need to sell 100 jumpers per month.

£100 x 100 = £10,000

I know most businesses aren’t quite as simplistic as this, but I’m just trying to give you an idea of how to look at your numbers with meaning. For example, if you have a variety of products with different profits, make a judgement on where you want to focus based on your sales.

Now consider if making this number of products is realistic. For example, can you physically make 100 jumpers (or whatever you do) a month? If you can’t, you need to think about how you will be able to reach your target.

Maybe you can embellish the jumpers so you can increase your prices. If you can double the price and still provide value to your customer, you only need to make half the number of jumpers, which may be more achievable.

Or maybe you can add to your product line with something that requires less time, so you can make more in the time available. This way, you are diversifying and building up your business using a different stream.

Or maybe you can outsource the making of the jumpers to someone else.

There are many different options, but the starting point is knowing what your target is. This helps you start building your strategy to get you where you want to be.

So, the first step in the numbers game is to know how many orders you need to make to get to your target. The following number to understand is audience numbers.

This means breaking it down so you know how many people need to visit your shop to make the 100 orders and reach your target.

This makes use of a vital statistic called the Conversion Rate.

If you’re on Etsy, they do that calculation for you already. But if you sell on different platforms, you need to work out your conversion rate for each platform.

The Conversion Rate = (number of orders / number of visits) x 100.

To keep things simple in our example, let’s assume you’ve got a current order conversion rate of 1%. This means that for every 100 visits you make, you get one order. So if you need to sell 100 jumpers, you need to have 10000 visits per month (no. of jumpers / Conversion Rate).

If you’re nowhere near that number of visits, then you need to start thinking about what steps you can take to increase your audience numbers.

Knowing the number of orders and the corresponding audience to achieve the results will guide you in what steps you need to take to get there. The results of which form your business strategy.

3. Define your business strategy to be successful in business.

Your business strategy is defining what you are going to do to reach your target numbers. This is a list of the tactics, strategies or actions to try and get you to the point of selling 100 jumpers or getting 10000 visits to your shop.

You don’t need to be working on both numbers at once, as increasing one number often positively affects the other. But you do need to be aware that if you grow your audience, you need to meet the order demand. Or, if you adapt your product creation, you still need to get your products in front of people to buy them.

From steps 1 and 2, you know what numbers you need to reach.

This step is about defining what you want to do to start you off on the road to achieving your numbers.

Which number you decide to tackle first, and how you approach each number, is individual to your business. You can take many different routes to get there. But essentially, growth in a company is really about either growing your sales or growing your audience.

For instance, to increase audience numbers, you could improve one of the following:

  • your SEO,
  • advertising,
  • social media,
  • Pinterest,

Or maybe you could collaborate with someone or add a new income stream. To increase your sales (profit), you could try to do do one of these:

  • reduce expenses,
  • outsource your product creation,
  • create a scalable digital product,
  • expand your product line,
  • and so on.

These are only some ideas. I’m sure you can think of other options that are appropriate to your business. And it goes without saying, don’t try and do everything all at once as you will get so overwhelmed. Instead, try to only try one tactic at once to get a clear idea of what actually works and what doesn’t.

Whatever options you choose to do, typically, you manage the activities involved by creating a project. The project then has a specific goal to achieve so you can measure its success.

Your business strategy will essentially be a series of projects to implement the specific growth plans you want to achieve.

4. Only work on activities that will grow your business.

Once you’ve identified which project/s you will work on, put all the other projects in your pipeline for the future. Once you see the results of your current projects, you can then reassess the following projects to work on and when it is relevant to do so. Having a series of consecutive projects is better than trying to do everything all at once.

Working on anything that’s not linked to your current active project will distract you and is not aligned with your growth strategy. So, put them on hold until a more suitable time.

For each project that you are working on, sit down and think of all the tasks involved in the project. You may want to consider breaking down anything that takes more than a day to complete. Break these activities into more granular activities so that you can really get a good feel of the scale of the project.

Once each project comprises of a series of tasks, you can structure your working week around completing these tasks and only these tasks.

Obviously, these tasks are in addition to your business as usual tasks for your order fulfilment. This is why you want to break them down into as small activities as possible so that: a) you don’t get overwhelmed with having too little time and a large task to complete and b) you can squeeze activities in as and when you get some free time.

What you have now is the advantage of knowing what tasks you need to do, what project that relates to and what growth goal that links to. Every task is directly linked to growing your business, and as you now have a list of tasks, you know what you should be working on at any point in time.

How refreshing is that? No more wasted time working on activities that are not relevant or even just trying to think about what you should do next. You have a plan!

5. Track your progress to be successful in business.

We all want to stay motivated and if you’ve got key tasks, projects and goals that you want to work on, make sure you track your progress. This will help keep yourself motivated, and so you know where you are.

This can be as simple as keeping track of all the tasks you have completed. But hopefully, it will also mean keeping an eye on your sales and audience numbers to see if what you are doing is actually working.

Remember, not everything will work.

Take a baseline before you start making changes. This could mean keeping a record of sales, audience numbers and any other pertinent number affected by whatever you are working on. If you don’t know your starting point, you will not know if what you did makes a difference. Let’s face it, after doing all this, the last thing you want to do is continue with a strategy that simply doesn’t work for you.

Identifying that something is not working at the soonest opportunity and deciding where to go from there is one of the best things you can do for your business. Better to cut your losses and try something else than waste too much time on a lost cause.

You can only know this by tracking your numbers.

Understanding your numbers and making decisions based on these is THE MOST IMPORTANT thing to help you reach success in your business.

In summary, the five steps for being successful in business are: 1. identify what success means to you, 2. know your numbers, 3. define your strategy, 4. only working on the tasks you’ve identified, 5. and then tracking your progress. Doing those five things will mean that you grow your business and have the success that you need.

If you need help managing your goals, projects and tasks, check out My Business Hub. This is a great template, built on the free Notion framework. It will help you keep track of everything you need/want to do with a handy Dashboard to show you how you are progressing.

Go from Overwhelmed to Organised with this Notion template. 
Organise your small business work load with this task list, project & goal planner plus knowledge base. Using the Getting things done (GTD) framework.

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Hi there lovely

I’m Nicola, lover of all things colourful and a garden obsessed planning addict!

My main goal is to help overwhelmed creative solopreneurs gain confidence, business skills and a whole heap of motivation so that they can set forth on their creative adventures with all of the tools they need to build a profitable online business.

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