5 Success Tips for Small Business Owners

Are you an entrepreneur? Do you run your very own business? Are you kicking butt and taking names? We’re sure you areand that’s freakin’ fantasticbut here at Any Old Task, we’re huge advocates for constant and continual improvement when it comes to small business practices, so we’d like to share some of our best tips, tricks, and secrets to help you take your business to the next level.

Here are five of our very own success tips that will help your small business thrive!

Can anyone say #careergoals?

1. Lead with Determination & Flexibility

You run a small business, so it’s no surprise that you’re determined and are made of some pretty tough stuff.

But great leaders are also flexible. Flexible leaders are those who can modify their leadership style or approach when uncertain or unpredictable situations arise. Flexible leaders can also adapt to changes as they come, revising their plans to incorporate new innovations and overcome challenges, all the while still achieving their goals.

Another quality of a flexible leader is being able to easily implement new behaviours into workplace practices, which allows for more creativity and the discovery of new problem-solving methods.

So, what are you waiting for? Stretch that flexibility muscle and try out some new behaviours, regardless of whether you’re currently undergoing a time of change in your business. We know how difficult it can be to break old habits (it doesn’t happen overnight), but taking a conscious approach to change and experimenting with new approaches can be a key factor to success!

2. Get Out of Your Comfort Zone and Take Risks

Heidi Zak is the founder of ThirdLove, a super successful company that re-designed the way bras are bought and sold. Before Zak founded ThirdLove, she had a cushy job working for Google, complete with free massages and other perks. Leaving Google to pursue her own dreams was a scary big risk, but boy… did it ever pay off!

As a business owner, you’re probably very familiar with risk-taking; it is an inherent part of being an entrepreneur. You might even have a similar story to Zak’s when it comes to how you started your own small business, so it’s important to remember that you took a risk once, and you should keep on doing it!

And no, we’re not suggesting that you blindly jump into a risky business situation for which you haven’t weighed all the factors.

When it comes to business, there are many different types of risksnot just “big” and “small”, but calculated risks, wherein you are reasonably able to predict the outcome with some degree of success; ambiguous risks, wherein there are some known and unknown factors; and completely unknown risks, wherein you are essentially shooting in the dark.

Before you take a risk, it’s important to understand what sort of risk you are dealing with and to have an idea about how much you’d be willing to lose if it doesn’t turn out the way you’d hoped.

…not to sound like downers! We want you to take risks! But we also want you to be smart.

Success doesn’t fall into the laps of those who just sit and wait. You have to actively pursue it, and that means taking a chance every now and again, trying new things, and sometimes, putting yourself in a vulnerable position. There can be a huge pay-off when it comes to risk-taking.

So in the wise words of Miss Frizzle, “Take chances, make mistakes, and get messy!”

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3. Don’t Take “No” for an Answer

Did you know venture capitalists say “no” about 99 percent of the time? They even say no to ideas that we may find valuable and to founders they think have a real chance of making it. It may seem crazy, but it’s a crowded market, and like you, many others are looking for funds, new hires, speaking slots, and publicity for their ideas. So, as a small business owner or startup, you’re going to hear the word “no”… A LOT!

But that doesn’t mean that your company won’t receive funding, or that your company doesn’t have the capacity to accomplish great things. The most successful entrepreneurs never take “no” for an answerinstead, they take it as a challenge to prove themselves.

Let’s say you just finished pitching your startup’s business plan to some investors. The meeting seemed to be going well, but it ended with a “we like the idea, but it’s not the right time for us to invest.” Do you: a) walk away thinking your idea is no good or b) look back on the meeting for insights so you can improve for round two?

…You guessed it, it’s b!

Think about what questions you were being asked. For example, were they asking for confirmation on your claims, or was it clear that they did not understand the concept? If the latter, could these just be the wrong type of investors for your product or idea, or were you not communicating clearly enough? No matter what, by going over your interactions and understanding what happened up until the “no”, you can find some real insights that may help you change your approach next time. There is always a solution that will enable you to crush that second go-around and get the results you want!

Heidi Zak didn’t give up, and neither should you!

4. Hire People Who Are Smarter Than You

You’re an entrepreneur, so you’re smartwe don’t doubt that for a second! But just because you have expertise in one area doesn’t mean you know everything… and guess what? That’s totally okay!

No man is an island and no great business is either. In fact, businesses need different types of talent to become well-rounded and truly successful. So, find the best minds you can to create the strongest team possible. By spending time on things you’re good at and leaving the “other stuff” in capable hands, you’re sure to see your business thrive.

Take the first step by auditing what skills you need in your business (e.g. bookkeeping skills, social media expertise, etc.), and then take a look at those skills and determine what sort of qualities or personality traits need to be present in a potential employee to really excel at their role within your company.

To build a great company culture, your next step should be to consider your own values and your business’ values, and determine how these should match up with a potential employee’s own values. If everyone values the same things, your team will feel more solid and unified, making it easier for you to reach your ultimate goals. (Not only that, but your team will be happier, too!)

After this, you’re ready to begin integrating hiring practices that attract hardworking superstars. Pursue great employees or sub-contractors like you would an investor. It’s superstar or bust!

When hiring someone more capable or knowledgeable about a certain aspect of your business than you, it’s understandable that you may feel a little insecure. However, by embracing the chance to collaborate with an individual who has a brilliant, yet different perspective, you’ll begin to see your business soar!

(And pssstthis is where an awesome Business Planner or Assistant can really help you!)

5. Build a Solid Network Early

The first three rules of business might be “location, location, location” but the next three are certainly “network, network, network.”

You may shudder at the word “networking”, but networking really is the lifeblood of any good business, so it’s important to face whatever fears or apprehensions you may have, and start doing it early. It can help you find inspiration, improve your communication skills, find suppliers and investors, understand market opportunities… we could literally go on forever, but we know you’re a busy bee!

And guess what? A solid network doesn’t only have to be made up of people who fall into your realm of business or industry. Think outside the box and be open to meeting anyone who is interesting and influential. The most successful people have the broadest and most interesting range of networks spanning industries, occupations, geographies, and ideologies. You never know where or when people from your network may come in handy!

…but don’t forget, networking isn’t just about what you can get from others, but what you can give, too. Whether it be sharing a connection, lending out a skill, trading a service, or simply offering your time, being a good networker and building your reputation in your business community requires giving of yourself, freely and without expectations of recompense. To create a strong network that will ultimately help you be successful, you need to be willing to put yourself out there and give more than you receive (or at the very least – as much as you receive). That’s how great connections are built!

You never know who might end up being a connector or offering that savvy advice that propels you forward at a crucial time.

Bonus tip! Make a plan and work it!

Knowing what you’re working towards is one of the most basic rules of business that so many people skip over. We recommend doing a yearly review of your business before planning out your big goals for the next year. Once you know where you’ve been and where you’re currently heading you can set better goals and make better decisions for you and your business. Need help getting started? Grab this free Yearly Review Guide.

Ready to kick your business up a notch? We’d love to hear some of YOUR favourite tips for success? Tell us in the comments below.

Meet your host

Sandra Booker, Founder of Changemaker Inc. (home to Sidekick COO and The VA Studio) and creator of Scale Society and The Advisory Board, is a mentor, Fractional COO  and growth strategist. She specializes in helping overworked, overwhelmed, multi-hatted entrepreneurs become the CEOs of sustainably scalable, and powerfully profitable businesses. 

After helping local businesses thrive, and receiving accolades in her community (like the 40 Under 40 award) Sandra turned her attention to the world of online service providers, and her clients include familiar names like Chanti Zak, Tarzan Kay, and Laura Belgray.

In her (efficiently used) spare time, she teaches others how to build and grow their own 6-figure virtual assistant practices and is on a mission to create a million jobs by helping her clients and students scale their businesses.

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