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10 Rules to Help Your Business Succeed

Every day, new business ventures are created. Some of these businesses will succeed, but the sad reality is that many will fall by the wayside. Others will be able to take-off to a great start, given their ample resources and capital, but will falter along the way. Some ventures may be on a shaky ground at the start, but with perseverance and careful planning will prevail in the end.
Will your business thrive, or will it join thousands of others that have faltered along the way? Here are ten rules to make sure your business grows and prospers:
Rule 1: Find a Niche
For small businesses, it is best to find a niche. A small company with limited resources can efficiently serve niche markets. Concentrate your efforts on a fairly narrow market offering. This entails sticking to what you do best, and becoming an expert in that field. Realize that it is not possible to be good at everything.
By concentrating on a fairly narrow market niche, you may be able to avoid head-on collision with bigger competitors. If you are a computer store selling everything from PCs to peripherals, the entry of giant retailers like PCWorld in your area can spell the end for your business. However, you can try to limit your offering, for example, to specialised services like SOHO networks, off-site backup services, and computer security maintenance, and be the best retailer for this segment.
Rule 2: Act Small, Think Big
The most common question of small business start-ups is “How can I compete with my big competitors?” Small businesses have inherent advantages over big businesses, including flexibility, ability to respond quickly, able to provide a more personalized service. Make sure that your business takes maximum advantage of those areas that represent the strengths of small companies.
Establish a relationship with a professional and experienced Business Support Partner. An accredited business advisor (look out for an Executive Associate who carries accreditation from the Institute for Independent Business) will provide you with a tailored portfolio of resources matched to your exact requirements; these advisors can fill in the gaps in your business knowledge, and supply the support and guidance that you may require as and when you need it. This can be achieve inexpensively, and in most cases will pay for itself many times over. Have access to this type of support can take a great weight off your mind and allow you to focus on what you do best, whether that be the selling, marketing, research or design.
Rule 3: Differentiate your products
Present the benefits of your products and services to your customers, highlighting the unique solutions they offer in relation to their problems. If you don’t think you have a USP (unique selling point) then get the advice of a professional marketing person: they will be able to find something that you can use to differentiate your offering. Avoid being a copycat; rarely do imitators succeed in the marketplace. Study, but do not copy your competitors, and package your products distinctly.
Rule 4: First impressions count
Strive for accuracy and quality the first time around. You often do not have a second chance to make a good first impression. This means prompt and efficient service, a well-laid out shop, courteous staff, and personable voice over the phone, etc. However, if you are a one-person business working in a home office, remember that you are the centre of your business and marketing efforts. Everyone you come in touch with is potentially a client or a referral to another client because they are either impressed with you as a person, or impressed with your skill at providing a certain service or product. Make sure that you are always presentable, professional in your ways and knowledgeable about your business.
Rule 5: Good reputation
Your business hinges on its reputation. It is imperative that you build a good reputation for the quality of your products and support services. Remember that two things guarantee success: high quality goods and superior service. Always aim for quality.
Rule 6: Constant Improvement
Entrepreneurs know that they should not be rigid in their ways of thinking in their quest to improve their best products and services. You risk being left behind by the fast-paced competition if you cling to the “this is how we’ve always done it” kind of thinking. The business environment today demands that you need to come up with new solutions ¬ fast!
Rule 7: Listen to your clients and customers
Be market driven: listen and react to your customer’s needs. Customers need to feel that they are important to you because they are! When you focus on your customers and gain their trust, they will not only recommend you but they will also remain loyal to you. Remember, personal recommendation and word-of-mouth are the least costly yet most effective marketing strategy for your business.
Rule 8: Plan for Success
A business owner should understand the power of planning. A good plan helps you increase your chances of succeeding and can help you define your business concepts, estimate costs, predict sales and control your risks. It tells you where you are going and how to get there.
Going into or running a business without a plan is like driving at night without your lights on. Many are lulled into a false sense of security because from time to time the darkness is broken by the glow of the reflected light around them, until one day they realise the road ahead is illuminated by the headlights of the oncoming truck just before its runs them off the road!
Rule 9: Be innovative
Improve and modernise your products or service constantly, keeping pace with technological changes. Use change as a springboard to improve your offerings, procedures or reputation. Innovation should also cover your operations ¬ from pricing, promotion, customer service, distribution, etc. Keep your eyes for new ways of doing things, and apply those that can improve the quality of your products and efficiency of your operations.
Rule 10: Work Smart
As an owner manager, you need to possess self-confidence, plus a never-ending sense of urgency to develop your ideas. Studies have shown that the individuals who succeed in entrepreneurship are far-sighted and can accept things as they are and deal with them accordingly. They know how to manage their time, realizing the importance of leisure as much as work. These people are often quick to change directions when they see their plans are not working. More importantly, they recognize their weak points and move on to nurture alliances and acquire the skills they need to put their business on the right track. Having a Business Mentor or Advisor can deliver significant advantages in this respect. They realize the importance of working smart, knowing that it is the quantity of work you do, but what you do and how well you do it.

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Business Roadmap provides practical business advice for small to medium sized businesses that are trying to overcome problems, or are trying to achieve their vision and full potential. Visit the Business Roadmap website for further information.

Disclaimer: While every effort has been made to provide valuable, useful information, Blue Mountains Web Pty Ltd. (trading as Stralia Web), Business Roadmap Pty Ltd. and any related suppliers or associated companies accept no responsibility or any form of liability from reliance upon or use of its contents. Any suggestions should be considered carefully within your own particular circumstances, as they are intended as general information only.

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