How to Run a Successful Business

by Krantcents · 36 comments

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Running a successful business does not just happen!  I have often said that if you do something you like, you will be good at it.  If you are really good at it, you should work for yourself.  Successful people have characteristics that separate them from the rest of us.  Do you need to have all these characteristics or traits to succeed?  No, but it helps if you do! 

Many people start businesses for a variety of reasons, the first being independence.  Successful business owners also have common characteristics; the most important is doing something you enjoy.  This is true for any career or profession.  Can you imagine doing something you do not like and be successful?  I can’t!  Can you learn some of the skills?  Of course, but successful business owners are still different from most of us.  Real difference has become rare in business!


Small business, career, or goals all require a plan.  Successful businesses commit to a plan; it may be a business plan, strategic or long range plan.  If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.  So many people fail to set goals or create a plan for success.  You know them; they are the happy go lucky people who think they are spontaneous.   Business needs planning; it is what anchors it in success.  Planning means you are not letting things happen, but anticipating problems.

Hire the Best

Surround yourself with people better than you.  You hire them or keep them as close advisors.  You are the decision maker; you get to hire the best people.  A successful business should sustain itself and live beyond the founder.  Doesn’t’ that mean it is a sellable asset?  Now that you hired the best, you need to keep them with incentives of authority, profit sharing, stock options or other rewards.

Local Connection 

Business is local!  Local is where your customers are!  When I owned a restaurant, the customers were employees of the local businesses or residents in the area.  Join the local chamber of commerce, community organizations and get involved with the schools in the area.  The more visible you are, the more likely you will generate loyalty.  It is far easier to say no to anonymous organizations than to someone you know.

Take the Pulse

When I owned my restaurant, I talked to my customers almost daily.  I made sure I got to know them by name and I let them know it.  I tried to make the experience personal and that made them feel important. It reminds me of the show Cheers, where everyone knows your name.  Talk to your customers to find out what they like or don’t like.  Respond to complaints as if your business lives or dies on it.  Very few people will complain or write a letter, each one represents many people and should be taken seriously.  Most people will just never come back.

Stay on Top

Businesses change daily/weekly/monthly!  A business changes because of poor procedures or management.  You want to change because something you do, not what you are not doing.  In the restaurant business, your customers are fickle.  You will lose them for poor service, a menu change, new trends, health issues or a new place opens nearby.  Competition or price reductions contribute to change too.  You must stay on top of these changes to navigate through it successfully.

Wrap Up

When you make that leap to start a business, you want to make it a success.  It takes a lot to make it successful such as drive, motivation, vision, being self starter and many other traits.  A great start is developing a business plan, hire good people, make connections and ask questions of your customers.  Being a business owner means you have to be proactive and a problem solver.  Owning a business requires a tremendous effort to make it successful and keep it successful.  I wish you all have a successful business or career.

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Meredith April 4, 2012 at 9:06 am

I love the thought “hire people smarter than you”. Wish more managers would take this advice. Great post!

Krantcents April 4, 2012 at 9:33 am

Some people are intimidated by smart people and some smart people are difficult to manage too. I grew up with smart and rich people so I was never intiidated. I want people who will do the task or job well, after all it reflects on the manager.

joe @ Retire By 40 April 4, 2012 at 12:58 pm

I love this post. Great advice from someone who went through it all. The restaurant business is tough. In Portland, restaurants keep going out of business. I think there are too much competition here. My parent had the only Thai restaurant in a small town and they did well for many years there.

Krantcents April 4, 2012 at 1:22 pm

Restaurants are a tough business, but it is a goldmine when successful! It is little like entertainment, fun and enjoyable.

Barbara Friedberg April 4, 2012 at 3:56 pm

Krant, I like the example of making sure to talk to your customers at the restaurant. As a fan of “Restaurant Impossible” I’m sure that at your establishment, the patrons kept coming back.

Krantcents April 4, 2012 at 3:59 pm

Customers are fickle, they leave or visit other places for a variety of reasons. My place was a destination, particularly late night and lunch. It was fun and profitable, but a lot of work.

Darwin's Money April 4, 2012 at 7:27 pm

I’d add persistence and risk-taking to the list. My partner just quit his full-time job to run our outsourcing firm full-time. Now that’s risky! But the payoff could be much larger than trying to squeek by part-time for years.

Krantcents April 5, 2012 at 7:48 am

If it was the right decision, all the positive adjectives will follow. If not, you know what follows! If yo never take a risk, it is a boring and very predictable life. For me, it would not be very rewarding. Go for it.

Miss T @ Prairie Eco-Thrfiter April 5, 2012 at 8:38 am

I definitely agree on hiring the best. Investing in quality human resources can make a huge impact on your success. to me it is about being proactive and looking forward.

Krantcents April 5, 2012 at 8:41 am

Some entrepreneurs do not want competition or is unwilling to pay for the best. It pays off multiple times in the quality of the work.

Kurt @ Money Counselor April 5, 2012 at 9:07 am

A great list. And yes, I agree, your biz is only as good as the people you hire.

I think it pays to think of customers as sources of referrals. A sales force even! And, depending on the business, cultivating relationships not just with customers but with people who may never be customers but are as important to success (or more so!) because they’re prolific referral sources.

Krantcents April 5, 2012 at 12:39 pm

Customers are just one of your sources of referrals. Friends, colleagues, other businesses and professionals (bankers, attorneys & CPAs) are other sources too.

Thad P April 5, 2012 at 9:01 pm

Hiring the best is sage advice. And then set them up to succeed at what they want to do. Win-win for all involved.

Krantcents April 6, 2012 at 7:56 am

Surround yourself with employees that will raise the bar. Smart people will have smart ideas and grow your business.

Agent Gee April 5, 2012 at 9:25 pm

“Surround yourself with people better than you.”

Hear hear! It’s one way to rid yourself of mediocrity and aim for better results.

Krantcents April 6, 2012 at 7:59 am

Mediocrity and average is just like everyone else. Why start a business if you are going to be like everyone else. Successful companies distinguish themselves from competition

My University Money April 7, 2012 at 6:25 am

This is one that jumped out at me as well Gee. Very well-written post KC. With the skills we’ve learned setting up our own blog and doing SEO for it, we’ve actually started designing webpages for others and building a small side business. I’ll keep your words of wisdom in mind.

Krantcents April 7, 2012 at 7:58 am

The internet has given us another way of doing business. With its very low entry costs, many people can start a business online and run it from home. It is no less a business.

Financial Advice for Young Professionals April 5, 2012 at 10:55 pm

Your first point about having a plan is what struck a chord with me. I just started my site a few months ago and I don’t really have a carefully thought out, written down plan. Gonna get on that ASAP!

Krantcents April 6, 2012 at 8:02 am

The more specific your plan the more likely you will achieve the goal. I always start with the outcome and work backwards. My plan has daily tasks to achieve milestones each week. Good luck.

WorkSaveLive April 6, 2012 at 4:37 am

Plans certainly don’t guarantee success but they certainly help! I enjoy developing business plans and figuring out how you’re going to grow it and obtain clients…doing that though, I believe, has added to my success over time.

The biggest key is the hiring employees. It’s REALLY difficult to hire great employees and may business owners/managers don’t want to take the time to really interview 10-15 people for a position.

I’ve seen many of my past bosses choose somebody that was “okay” just because they didn’t want to ‘waste’ anymore time. It always came back to bite them.

Krantcents April 6, 2012 at 8:09 am

Creating a plan and monitoring your performance will generally help you achieve success. The hiring process can be lengthy, but it should be! Employees are an important part of success. A good job description will lead to specific skill set and it makes the process a little more focused. A mistake in hiring will cost you considerably more in the long run. Maybe employees are not important in that organization?

Untemplater April 6, 2012 at 7:36 pm

You’re right about staying on top. It’s crazy how fast and how often things change today, and businesses that don’t or can’t adapt, quickly fall behind. And you’re right that to be successful you need to like what you’re doing! Without heart and passion, a business just can’t thrive. -Sydney

Krantcents April 7, 2012 at 7:51 am

Technology has changed business. You need a online presence and now social media is a given. Adapting to these changes is now a part of doing business. Adapting to change in general is just part of business.

101 Centavos April 6, 2012 at 10:53 pm

Talking to and interacting with customers is so important in really, *any* business. Introverts will have a hard time of it, unless they hire an outgoing and personable team to be the “face” of the business. Well said.

Krantcents April 7, 2012 at 7:54 am

Your reputation with customers and in the industry will affect your business more than anything. If you like what you are doing, your shyness goes away.

Financial Samurai April 8, 2012 at 12:54 pm

Having really good people really does make the world of difference. Just as hiring painful people will make so many things that much worse!

Krantcents April 8, 2012 at 1:07 pm

Most companies live and die based on the skills or weaknesses of their employees. Some of the best and most successful companies attract and keep the best. Companies like Apple, Google, Amazon and Nordstrom to name a few of the greats in their respective industries.

Invest It Wisely April 13, 2012 at 8:16 pm

Responding to customers is so important, and so is surrounding yourself with great people that can help you out. Gotta surround yourself with a forcefield of positive thinking and action!

Krantcents April 14, 2012 at 6:37 am

When you are running a business, you can easily isolate yourself. Talking to your customers can reveal a lot about what you are doing.

JAMES April 15, 2012 at 6:04 am

Talk to your customers. So many businesses forget to do that. There are so many companies that think they don’t need customer feedback to continue to thrive.

Krantcents April 15, 2012 at 8:00 am

Getting feedback is nt limited to business. It should be part of everything we do.

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