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Fifteen Steps For Business Success

1. Plan ahead. There is a popular business expression that says: Prior Planning Prevents Poor Performance. Make planning ahead a habit -- deviations can waste both time and money. Plan for the next day, the next month, the next year.

2. Set goals. Make budgets. This goes hand-in-hand with planning ahead. Have sales and profit targets to aim for. Know what you're willing to spend to reach those goals.

3. Be organized -- another variation on planning ahead. Know what people and resources you'll need.

4. Hire good people. That also means you have to take the time to train them properly! A love for customer service is a good start, but it won't get your employees very far if they don't know what they're selling.

5. Know when to delegate. You don't have to do everything yourself! Knowing what your people can do means knowing who you can trust with which tasks. Figure out the three things you do best, and delegate the rest of the work.

6. Be a good supervisor. Know what is going on in your business. Monitor the work in progress and have a way to measure the finished product.

7. Think about your ideal customers. Who is looking for your services? How can you focus your efforts on your ideal customers and avoid the ones who will make things difficult for you and your employees?

8. Think about value. Your price alone may not make a person choose your products or services. Quality, price, and level of service all come together to attract (and keep) customers.

9. Think about why a customer may not choose your product or services. Thinking like a customer instead of a business owner can help you figure out places where you may be willing to compromise. A customer may not make a purchase if they think prices are too high -- are you willing to offer a discount? A customer may not see the same value in your product that you see. Thinking like a customer can help you assess what you offer and what the other businesses in your market have to offer.

10. Know what you do best. Focus on what you do best -- this will help you attract customers who want exactly what you provide.

11. Know your limits. Offering too many products at too wide a price range can overwhelm you. Start with what you do best, and gradually add new products and services over time.

12. Know your competition. The better you know your competitors, the better you can function in your marketplace. Visit your competitors?stores and websites to see what they offer and what prices they ask. You can learn a lot from your competitors.

13. Be willing to share information with your competitors. Joining forces may be beneficial for you both; you may be able to share products or resell things in each other's stores. Be friendly, rather than hostile. Be open to the possibility of cooperation.

14. Communicate. Not only with your competitors, but with your employees. And your clients. And your potential clients. And your family. Share information regularly and accurately.

15. Be willing to change. Do what it takes to stay happy, motivated, and full of new ideas. If your old plan isn't working, it's time to make adjustments.

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